Consul says “sizeable” number of legal Guyanese remain
There are no exact figures on the number of Guyanese who have been asked to leave Barbados under a Bajan government policy to regularise immigrant workers.
Today is the last day for Guyanese and other nationals of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to leave the island if they are not legal.
Last May, Prime Minster David Thompson announced an amnesty for thousands of undocumented CARICOM nationals in Barbados. He said, however, that they must meet certain qualifying standards to regularise their immigration status, among them proof of employment, passing of background security checks, and substantiating a claim that they had lived in Barbados for at least eight years prior to December 31, 2005.
Three months ago, Thompson said there was a backlog of up to 6,000 Caribbean nationals seeking immigrant status in Barbados. He explained that Barbados had no choice but to regulate its immigration policy since the social services simply could not cope with a flood of immigrants.
Contacted yesterday, Norman Faria, Guyana’s Consul in Bridgetown, said that he could not comment on any questions about the amnesty.
“This is a Barbadian government initiative. I am restricted by protocol considerations. What I can say is that those undocumented Guyanese nationals in the island would have taken note of what the Barbados government has announced. They would have considered their options. They would have made their decision on what to do before the deadline arrives at year end (31 December 2009),” said Faria.
As with other CARICOM nationals, Guyanese were up to yesterday applying to the Barbados Immigration Department to regularise their status. The Consulate, as with other Guyana government missions, is there to provide advice and practical assistance such as filling out the application forms and renew passports and help in obtaining Police Certificates of Character and other documents from Guyana, Faria stated.
He said that the Consul has also provided some amount of counselling “because some Guyanese, as with other nationals, such as Barbadians in North America in the same situation, would be suffering from a certain amount of anxiety and, even stress at this time.”
“This is understandable as everyone wants to know about their (residential) security both in the short and long terms,” Faria stated.
Since Thompson made his statement on immigration, the Consulate has seen an increase in inquiries.
Faria said that the Consulate is in regular touch with the Prime Minister’s office so as to be properly informed to better inform Guyanese nationals.
The Consulate, had received assurances that the Guyanese may take in their application forms themselves rather than going through lawyers.
“Disappointingly, intelligence reaching the Consulate is that some unscrupulous parasitical intermediaries, including some lawyers, have, following the PM’s Statement, upped their ante. They are charging exorbitant fees for unnecessary so-called services.
“One lawyer is charging B$2500 (US$1,250) for filling out an application form and writing a covering letter…,” Faria stated. He said that that lawyer will soon be struck off the Consulate’s list of approved lawyers.
“While the Guyana government recognizes the right of a sovereign country like Barbados to enact and implement its laws and regulations, Guyana will be looking…to ensure that the fundamental rights of Guyanese in Barbados are not infringed upon,” Faria stated.
“While the Guyana government, and the Consulate, encourages Guyanese to stay in Guyana and continue to contribute to the ongoing progress and development there, we recognise their right and freedom to travel overseas to work and live while respecting the laws and regulations,” he added.
He said that a sizeable number of legal Guyanese nationals remain in Barbados, mainly those on work permits and who have attained residency and citizenship.
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