Opposition MP and Member of Parliament for Naparima, Rodney Charles MP. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)

Member of Parliament for Naparima, Rodney Charles MP—the UNC’s shadow minister for national security issues—is renewing the party’s call for a comprehensive refugee policy, in light of recent developments involving Venezuelan refugees.

And in an official statement released today, MP Charles also argues that the newly appointed Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Foreign Affairs should put the migration issue and Venezuelan refugees at the top of its agenda.

According to the Opposition MP, “a clear and well communicated refugee policy” is needed urgently, to ensure there is clear guidance on how to handle situations such as that recently involving the deportation of a group of Venezuelans that included several children and a baby.

The full text of MP Charles’ statement, follows…

The UNC renews five year old call for a comprehensive refugee policy — First order of business for foreign affairs JSC

The UNC is once again renewing its five year old call for a comprehensive refugee policy that is humane, consensually developed, acknowledges our international treaty obligations and the skills gaps in our country, is consistent with our laws and global best practices, and most importantly recognizes the limits of our absorptive capacity.

This must be the first order of business for the recently appointed JSC on Foreign Affairs.

We cannot continue to operate by “vaps” on this important matter.

If we have a clear and well communicated refugee policy, then there will be no ambiguity regarding our country’s position on a number of situations likely to arise with our Venezuelan migrants/refugees.

Only then will all local and foreign parties be fully apprised of our policy and the reasoning behind it.

Local NGOs and stakeholders like the TTCG, the TTPS, our Immigration Department, our Parliament and our citizenry will be in no doubt as to what is required of them in a variety of situations, such as arose recently with the deportation of Venezuelans including children and a 4 month old baby.

As it stands our refugee policy is developed on the fly, seemingly by the PM taking his own counsel, without full ventilation of the issues, and in reaction to ongoing events.

The UNC is also calling for the government to have at hand critical hard data to inform this policy and a serious policy to lock down our borders. Those deported returned almost immediately.

As it stands we do not know the number of Venezuelans in TT. We are not aware of how many Venezuelan children are born here and therefore entitled to all rights of citizenship. Will we keep their children born here but deport their parents? We have not given thought to what will happen after the registration process runs its course nor have we prepared our schools for teaching bi-lingual pupils.

The Naparima MP is calling on Dr. Rowley to emulate Barbados’ Mia Mottley in the quality, depth, tone, reasonableness and maturity of her utterances.  PM Mottley speaks, articulates and deliberates in measured, well-constructed phrases — befitting a world class diplomat.