Above: Turks and Caicos
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The arrival of “illegal” Haitian sloops in Turks and Caicos and their subsequent cost to the government is of “grave concern” to Turks and Caicos Premier Dr Rufus Ewing, he said this week.
Ewing was speaking after it was announced that 71 Haitian nationals would return home after arriving in the territory on illegal sloops.
Earlier this month, a sloop carrying 127 nationals from Haiti was intercepted by the Royal Turks and Caicos Police Force.
“The arrival of illegal Haitian sloops and subsequent cost of illegal immigrants in the communities, cost of detention and repatriation is of grave concern to my government,” he said. “In this regard, I have discussed with the Governor about seeking UK funding for intervention in this area of the Governor’s constitutional responsibility, including collaborative action with Haiti, the Bahamas and the United States, to avert arrival of illegal sloops.”
In the interim, Ewing said the government would strengthen security measures at the TCI’s detention centre and also “stepping up efforts to capture, detain and repatriate illegal immigrants, regardless of the mode of entry or method by which one’s status became illegal.”
“We will adapt a zero tolerance policy for the facilitation and harbouring of illegal immigrants and the imposition of maximum penalties for employers who continue to employ persons without work permit or failed to notify immigration authority about the expiration of their employees work permits and to facilitate their repatriation,” he said.
In September, Turks and Caicos lifted a moratorium on deportations to Haiti that had been suspended for Haitians who were already living in the country (as opposed to those who arrived subsequently).
The territory is about 200 miles north of Haiti.