December 9, 2009

Panday wants answers on US visas

Carolyn Kissoon South Bureau

Wednesday, December 9th 2009 Trinidad Express

Leader of the Opposition, Basdeo Panday, yesterday called upon Foreign Affairs Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon to find out why legitimate non-immigrant visa applicants continue to be blanked at the United States Embassy without explanation.

He said the US Embassy in Port of Spain should clearly state its criteria for rejection or acceptance of applicants for visas.

Panday said it was time the Minister meet officials at the US Embassy to have the matter resolved.

Panday was responding to an exclusive report in the Express detailing the findings of a report done by the US State Department on the operations at the local embassy.

The report found that non-immigrant visa workers at the embassy were being trained up to February this year, to refuse visas to certain groups of applicants.

Among those who were being refused-pregnant women, women who already had a child in the US, and locals working with multinational corporation and going to America for job training.

Panday said: ’While it is recognised that a sovereign country has a right to determine who should enter its territory, such a right should be exercised with empathy in this global village, that is today’s world. Many of our citizens have families in the United States given the long history of our movement between the two countries.’

He said although it was their right to do so, the US Embassy was discriminating against those with families in the United States who were sick, dead or dying.

’This amounts to an act of cruelty,’ he said.

’One understands that US clamping down in the post-9/11 period and the calamities that have faced not only in America, but worldwide. However, it is insulting that dignified people in our society are being treated as if they were drug mules and criminals at the US Embassy here or when they arrive on American soil,’ Panday said.

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