Gordon renews call for Venezuelans to work

Ro­man Catholic Arch­bish­op Fa­ther Ja­son Gor­don is re­it­er­at­ing his call for Venezue­lans to be giv­en the chance to have a bet­ter life in T&T.

Speak­ing dur­ing an in­ter­view on I95FM over the week­end, the Arch­bish­op said he has had dis­cus­sions with Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley and has sug­gest­ed that Venezue­lans are al­lowed to work in this coun­try and be giv­en bio­met­ric cards so that their ac­tiv­i­ties can be le­galised and they can al­so be mon­i­tored. He said with­out this op­por­tu­ni­ty, these im­mi­grants could be sus­cep­ti­ble to a life of crime.

“The temp­ta­tion is to go in­to the il­le­gal sec­tor be­cause they have to sup­port their fam­i­lies. The best way in terms of the de­vel­op­ment of Trinidad and To­ba­go is to give them a card with lim­it­ed rights so that they will know they can work, ed­u­cate their chil­dren and they will know they can get emer­gency med­ical help. When­ev­er the cri­sis in Venezuela ends then they will go back to Venezuela,” Gor­don said.

Gor­don’s com­ment comes in the wake of a po­lice ex­er­cise last week in which 19 South Amer­i­can girls be­lieved to have been used as sex slaves were res­cued by po­lice from var­i­ous lo­ca­tions in East and West Trinidad. Sev­er­al Venezue­lans have al­so been ar­rest­ed in re­cent weeks for il­le­gal en­try in­to T&T.

Gor­don added that the pro­posed bio­met­ric cards could be re­viewed every year.

“The card can­not just be hand­ed from per­son to per­son. If they break the law for in­stance, then part of the con­di­tion is au­to­mat­ic de­por­ta­tion. But as long as you are here and con­tribut­ing to the so­ci­ety and its de­vel­op­ment you have that sta­tus and every year it’s re­viewed,” the Arch­bish­op ex­plained.

He added that jobs which lo­cals of­ten re­ject can be per­formed by Venezue­lans.

Gor­don said the re­al ques­tion was not about the refugees but about what kind of Trinidad and To­ba­go cit­i­zens want it to be.

“While we must do what is right to meet the needs of our own cit­i­zens, we must al­so show com­pas­sion and hos­pi­tal­i­ty and en­sure that refugees in need of pro­tec­tion and sup­port are treat­ed ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tion­al stan­dards,” Gor­don urged.

He agreed that Trinidad and To­ba­go was no refugee camp but not­ed that every coun­try in the world had been ac­cept­ing them.

“Refugees have been wel­come through­out the whole of his­to­ry. We can­not be the first peo­ple to de­cide that we do not want to wel­come them,” he said.

Gor­don sug­gest­ed that church­es and oth­er agen­cies come to­geth­er to for­mu­late a plan on how the refugees would be in­te­grat­ed in­to so­ci­ety.

- by Geisha Kowlessar-Alonzo

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