Parents of Venezuelan migrant children staged a silent protest outside the Red House in Port-of-Spain yesterday, calling on local authorities to release their children into their care.
The parents, who are also migrants, noted the Immigration Division’s lack of sensitivity in the issue after a court ruling last week that the minors should be released.
The children, who were among the 16 who were detained by police after they returned to Trinidad via boat at a beach in south Trinidad earlier this month, have been held at the Chaguaramas Heliport for over five weeks.
Speaking about the issue at Woodford Square, mother of one of the children, Bertina Hernandez, told the Trinidad Guardian, through an interpreter, “Our children, they spend about two weeks in quarantine, they extend the quarantine for a second time and after that, they have to be released but so far we don’t know anything about that.”
Hernandez said they have not been getting information from the authorities, leading them to fear they want to deport the children back to Venezuela.
Another parent, Felix Marcano, added, “We are here today because we need to know finally what is going to happen with our children. The days has passed and we don’t know anything about the future of our children.
“I have not spoken to my two children, I don’t know if they are okay, no one is telling us anything. Immigration is not saying anything to our many requests. We have seek legal advice but we are still uncertain as to if they will be released into our care or they will be deported.”
He added, “We find it very unfair, it is the holidays and the children are away from us and this is very hurtful for us and we just want an answer as to when, or even someone to tell us what is the procedure so we can anticipate what to expect from the authorities.”
Last month, High Court Judge Joan Charles ordered the immediate release of 10 minors and four of their mothers from the migrant detention centre at the T&T Coast Guard’s Heliport in Chaguaramas. Charles ordered their release as she noted this country’s immigration laws and policies do not provide for the detention and deportation of children. As the minors had to be released into the custody of relatives, Charles also had to order the release of some of their mothers, who were also detained awaiting deportation.
Efforts to contact the Immigration Division on the issue were unsuccessful yesterday.