The families of Venezuelan migrants who are now being detained at the Chaguaramas Heliport are hoping they will be granted the opportunity to visit their relatives.
This was the word from one of the attorneys representing some of the migrants, Nefessa Mohammed.
The migrants, whose whirlwind week saw them moved to the Heliport after spending the last couple days in a cell at the Erin Police Station days, returned to Trinidad and Tobago in the very boat used to deport them after they originally arrived here last Tuesday.
“I myself was disappointed, I thought since yesterday (Thursday) they were taken to the heliport. But this morning I was able to confirm that they were actually taken from the Erin Police Station finally and would have been by now, I suppose, in the heliport in Chaguaramas,” Mohammed said in a phone interview yesterday.
“As it relates to the court proceedings, last night (Thursday) there was a hearing and I know that steps are being taken because the application that had been made was in respect of just one family in particular. Now with the additional families, further matters are going to be commenced in their names as well.
“The court has given some directions for the timelines with respect to the court applications and both counsels, from our side and from the state, will be in dialogue with respect to working out an appropriate timetable to put forward to the court to dealing with the issues.”
While the migrants await their day in court, their relatives are hoping they get the opportunity to at least visit their loved ones while they await the court’s decision.
“All they want is that they want to see them. So far, they know that they have moved them from Erin Police Station to Chaguaramas but they have not seen them, they want to see them,” said pastor Elizer Torres, a mediator for the group.
Kaizer Caraballo, who has a 17-year-old son at the Heliport, told Guardian Media via Torres that it was good to know his son had been moved to the heliport. However, he had concerns that the police did not give his son the clothing and food he took for him at the Erin station.
It is, however, unlikely that family members will be allowed access now as the detained migrant group is currently under COVID-19 quarantine.
In an unrelated matter but one with interest to the migrants, three Venezuelan nationals, aged 85, 53 and 21, were ordered released under supervision by High Court Judge Joan Charles.
Earlier this week, Charles had ordered 10 Venezuelan minors and four women, who were mothers of the children, released after she ruled this country’s immigration laws and policies did not provide for the deportation and detention of children.
Attorney in the latest matter, Jerome Riley, confirmed that the application reviewed yesterday was initially to be filed alongside those heard by Charles on Tuesday.
Yesterday’s ruling, however, was unique in that it saw the release, albeit under supervision, of adults as opposed to minors.
Mohammed said she felt sorry for the immigration officers, as they are currently tied to archaic law that needs revamping.
“I feel sorry for our law enforcement officers actually, because, especially our immigration officers, because they are bound by an archaic Immigration Act and I think this is an area that our Government needs to look at. That Immigration Act needs to be repealed and replaced and in order to do that we have to focus on developing a proper immigration policy for our country,” said Mohammed, who added she would be willing to assist in this change.
“I would like to make myself available to assist whomever it is that might be working in respect of developing that national refugee policy that is so long overdue because if you develop a good policy you can have a good law in place.
“And whilst we do not have a specific refugee law in the statute books, we do have other laws that we have to recognise and respect and we are also duty bound by our international obligations under several conventions that have been signed from time to time.”