Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.
GAIL ALEXANDER

Prime Minister Keith Rowley has pointed out that TT’s borders have been closed even to TT citizens during the COVID pandemic, and TT would resist all efforts by others who are “hell bent on forcing open this country’s borders through illegal immigration”.

In a statement at 7:14 this morning, he added:

“Under the rubric of ‘humanitarian’ this interpretation, if accepted, will effectively prise open our borders to every economic migrant, gun runner, drug dealer, human trafficker and South American gang leader/members. All they will be required to do is make the 7 mile boat trip and claim to be “refugees”.

Rowley spoke early, following the challenge facing TT—and criticism from some Venezuelan Opposition politicians—after a boatload of illegal Venezuelans including babies and children entered TT.  After being deported, they returned this week.

Rowley said:

“Why should we be surprised? The Organisation of American States (OAS) under its misguided President Almagro has been almost singlehandedly responsible for triggering and fuelling the current Venezuelan situation and these public officials have virtually declared war on Trinidad and Tobago for having the temerity to have not joined Elliot Abrams and President Trump in forcing violent regime change in Venezuela. “

“Trinidad and Tobago is currently under the latest assault, using nameless, faceless people armed with innocent children, to try and force us to accept their understanding of ‘refugee status and international treaty’ where a little island nation of 1.3 million people must be expected to maintain open borders to a next door neighbour of 34 million people even during a pandemic. “

Rowley added, “This is a matter, not for the OAS, but for the people of Trinidad and Tobago.”

“Currently we have closed our borders even to our own citizens in this pandemic and would resist all efforts by others who are hell bent on forcing open our borders through illegal immigration.

Under the rubric of “humanitarian” this interpretation, if accepted, will effectively prise open our borders to every economic migrant, gun runner, drug dealer, human trafficker and South American gang leader/members. All they will be required to do is make the 7 mile boat trip and claim to be “refugees”.

We staunchly support the work of the United Nations but this threat and the persistent disregard for the outstanding humanitarian efforts extended by the people of Trinidad and Tobago, do not conform with the spirit and purpose of the UNHCR.

It is our little island nation which facilitated the registration of 16,000 Venezuelan migrants and even as we ourselves are struggling to cope with our own difficulties we have afforded them comfort, aid and opportunity.

If after all that, our nation’s image is to be tarnished through the facilitation of illegal penetration of our borders then certainly, that will be the unkindest cut of all.

I call on all the people of Trinidad and Tobago to continue to be the humane and caring people that we have demonstrated that we are, as we do not demonize our migrant neighbours but we all continue to be protected by the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.”