March 10, 2010

Ministry moves to stem illegal migration

Miranda La Rose

Wednesday, March 10th 2010

The Ministry of National Security does not view the ’growing trend’ in the number of illegal immigrants detained in the country over the past five years ’as an uncontrollable influx,’ Minister of National Security said.

Of 2,992 illegal immigrants detained 2,742 were deported as of December 31, 2009.

In response to a question Senator Mark Wade asked in the Senate yesterday, Minister of National Security Martin Joseph said that the ministry noted the trend recorded by the Immigration Department and has implemented a number of initiatives to stem illegal migration. These include the restructuring and strengthening of the Immigration Department’s investigation unit, enhanced training programmes, and strengthening the country’s border management systems.

The investigations unit, he said, has nine officers-three immigration officers and six police officers from the Criminal Investigations Department. There is no investigations unit in Tobago. The immigration officer in charge of passports spearheads all investigations relating to illegal immigrants there.

Joseph said it is proposed that the Immigration Department investigative arm be substantially increased to include an investigation unit of 47 officers, enforcement unit, intelligence unit, documents lab, and the recently established detention centre at Aripo, Arima.

It is also proposed that the Tobago Immigration Department be given a dedicated investigations unit. Implementation of the proposals being pursued, he said, are dependent on available human resource.

Training of immigration officers has been strengthened to better equip them to deal with illegal immigrants.

The Ministry of National Security is also moving to strengthen its border management by strengthening the maritime fleet of the Coast Guard, which recently acquired six fast patrol craft. It is also due to acquire the first of three offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) by the end of July. In the interim, two vessels were acquired by the Coast Guard to bolster its fleet while the OPVs are under construction.

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