Venezuelan immigrants

Derek Achong

Ninety three Venezuelan illegal immigrants were deported this afternoon, even as some had last ditch legal challenges pending.

Guardian Media understands that this afternoon, the Venezuelans, who were being housed at the Chaguaramas Heliport and the Immigration Detention Centre in Aripo, were put on two Coast Guard vessels and taken to Soldado Rock, a small island off the coast of Icacos near the T&T/Venezuela maritime boarder.

They were then handed over to officers of Venezuela’s Guardia Nacional, who took them on the remainder of their journey back to their country.

Guardian Media also understands that on Thursday, one of the immigrants filed a lawsuit challenging his deportation and was granted a stay pending the determination of the case.

A group of attorneys, led by Senior Counsel Elton Prescott, filed similar cases in an attempt to prevent the planned deportation for 28 of the immigrants.

The deportation took place before the case came up for hearing before Justice Jacqueline Wilson yesterday afternoon.

The cases are expected to come up for hearing, next week, to determine whether any of the immigrants, who brought the cases, were not included in yesterday’s deportees.

The same group of attorneys yesterday brought two sets of cases for Venezuelan immigrants that are being quarantined at the Heliport.

The habeas corpus cases sought to secure the condition release of a group of three adults and a pregnant woman and her children ages four and 16.

Presenting submissions before Justice Joan Charles, Senior Counsel Reginald Armour, who led the State’s legal team, noted that the group of adults were lawfully detained as one had tested positive for the coronavirus, while other two were primary contacts.

In terms of the pregnant woman and her children, Armour said that they were being detained for entering the country illegally and were being quarantined as contacts of a positive case.

Prescott maintained that his clients denied being tested for the virus or showed symptoms.

Charles eventually agreed with Armour and ruled in favour of the State.

While the groups lost their cases, they are not due to be deported as they have active cases challenging their proposed deportation.

The Venezuelans were also represented by Criston J Williams, Kerrina Samdeo, Jerome Riley and Kashif Gibson.