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CARICOM nationals immigration woes

CARICOM nationals immigration woes

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Caribbean nationals are still complaining about second-class treatment meted out to them compared to visitors from other parts of the world, at some airports in the region.{{more}}

Steven Mac Andrew, who is the specialist in the area of the free movement of skill and labour at the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) Unit, told SEARCHLIGHT earlier this week that work still needs to be done in this area as the CSME is fully implemented in CARICOM member countries.

Mac Andrew was part of the team of CSME officials who visited this country to take part in a one day seminar with various stake holders regarding the CSME.

He said that CARICOM nationals complain about over-zealous immigration officers at various airports, who are not as zealous with international travelers.

Mac Andrew said that the CARICOM nationals complain that while international travelers “are ushered through” at immigration and custom checkpoints, persons from within the region undergo more rigorous scrutiny.

“The lines of the foreigners move faster than the lines of the CARICOM nationals or citizens,” Mac Andrew said Caribbean travelers claim.

Mac Andrew told SEARCHLIGHT that the security of a country’s borders, including the need to arrest of the drug trade, is important.

He, however, suggested that the majority of the drugs being smuggled in the region aren’t done through “the formal borders,” so security concerns cannot be used as an excuse for unfair treatment of CARICOM nationals at Caribbean ports of entry.

Guyana’s President Bharrat Jagdeo has often lashed out at this situation, which in 2008 he said was posing a direct threat to CSME.

When he addressed the 29th meeting of the Conference of CARICOM Heads of Government in Antigua in July last year, Jagdeo said that CSME will fail if this situation persists.

“What I find most disturbing is not the issue of the denial of entry of CARICOM citizens at the various ports of entry of the Community, but the humiliation suffered at the hands of some immigration officers at these ports,” he said back then.

“One of the tragic truths is that we treat foreigners better than we treat our own people,” Jagdeo said.(KJ)

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