Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stage set for tense 'Immigration' debate!

Rickey Singh: The stage seems set for a lively debate and, hopefully, matured CARICOM approach in seeking a practical resolution to the current public emotional sparrings involving Barbados' "removal" of illegal nationals of the Community - the majority of whom happens to be Guyanese - under a new immigration policy.

To judge from a recent response from President Bharrat Jagdeo, host and chairman of the four-day 30th Summit of the 15-member Community, Heads of Government could begin the "debate" tomorrow in a special caucus that is also to approve a crowded agenda of critical matters, including finance, trade and economic development, and the approval of five new 'Declarations' designed to deepen regional commitment.

The summit could prove the occasion to bite the bullet on an increasingly controversial issue.

Amid a virtual 'shouting match' from various capitals, but primarily involving Bridgetown, Georgetown and Kingstown, Barbados Prime Minister David Thompson has felt compelled to stress his government's "sovereign right" to shape and implement its own domestic immigration policy.

In the process, some conflicting statistics have emerged on the numbers of those "forcibly sent out" of Barbados or "deported".

For example, to Prime Minister Thompson's statement at the weekend that of eight CARICOM nationals "deported" last month four were Guyanese, the Foreign Minister of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, said that information so far received by her revealed that 53 Guyanese nationals were deported during that period.

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