Guyana has taken steps to facilitate Venezuelans and other immigrants who enter Guyana illegally and are intercepted by law enforcement officers.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Carl Greenidge told Kaieteur News yesterday that illegal immigrants will be provided an opportunity to register at a port of entry.
“What we have agreed to do in the last two months is to implement the law perhaps with a little more flexibility, and that flexibility has arisen from a requirement that if persons are intercepted having entered illegally, they will be required to immediately register at a port of entry,” Greenidge stated.
He made it clear that at this point in time that is the only flexibility that the Government is prepared to offer, where ‘Venezuelans and Haitians’ will be considered favourably to enter for a period of three to six months in the first instance.
According to Greenidge, after the six months, Government will then consider what else will follow.
“Once they do that which is meeting the requirement of the law then the sanctions associated with illegal entry will not be enforced and that is something that at this point in time we have indicated, we will do in relation to Venezuelans or anyone else who enters in the current circumstances,” Greenidge stated.
Neighbouring Venezuela is in the midst of economic and social problems, with food shortages and supplies low, and unemployment as well as inflation at unsustainable levels.
A MAJOR PROBLEM
Greenidge outlined that there are a number of places where people are moving in significant numbers, but it is not abandonment by Guyana authorities.
He stated that Guyana is obligated to enforce the law.
“A number of persons, and I don’t think actually its mostly Venezuelans, but a number of persons, would have entered Guyana and failed to register at a port of entry,” Greenidge stated.
He noted that this is a major problem in other countries, and even in those countries that are prepared to grant permission to enter, one will have to formally indicate that they are entering so that the immigration authorities have a record.
“What has happened is that a number of persons of various nationalities have fallen afoul of that,” Greenidge stated.
The Foreign Affairs Minister stated that every country in the world has legislation which must be respected and immigration laws are amongst the strictest.
“It is not rocket science, and this is also the case when one wants to enter Venezuela… one must go through the proper immigration procedures. It is not something directed against Venezuela. Wherever you come from in the region you must register,” Greenidge stated.
Venezuelans fleeing the conflict have sought refuge in Guyana, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago and Brazil. Trinidadian authorities faced United Nations condemnation when they sent back 82 Venezuelans on a special flight.
In Guyana, five non-governmental organisations in March called on the Government to implement humanitarian procedures which will assist Venezuelans.
Among other things, the organizations are called on the Judiciary and Director of Public Prosecutions to cease, with immediate effect, the practice of fining and jailing illegal Venezuelan immigrants.
In January, authorities raided an adult entertainment bar and arrested 41 foreign nationals, mostly Venezuelan girls who were charged with illegal entry.
It is estimated that some 30 of Venezuelan nationals are arriving in Guyana every day without visas, many of them of Guyanese origin whose family migrated during the 1980s.
The organizations have proposed that immigration authorities devise a form of temporary ID card which can be provided to Venezuelans desirous of remaining in Guyana, but not claiming refugee status.
There is also a recommendation for liaison with immigration authorities that Toshaos in remote border communities be authorized and empowered to implement a registration process of Venezuelans crossing the border.
The organizations also called for the urgent revision and publication of any procedures applicable to Venezuelan-Guyanese citizens which would facilitate their remaining in Guyana.
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