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Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Deportations worry illegal Caribbean nationals
Friday, 31 March 2006
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ROOP SHARMA
By Jasminee Sahoye Illegal Caribbean nationals here are now worried that they could be the next group to be deported following the move by the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration to send illegal Portuguese immigrants back to their homeland. Last weekend, a number of Portuguese immigrants were escorted by immigration officials on board an aircraft bound for Portugal, leaving most of their personal and household items behind. This newspaper understands that plans are afoot to have more groups of illegal or undocumented immigrants deported, as Canada's Citizenship and Immigration Minister, Monte Solberg has clearly stated that the undocumented immigrants issue is not a priority for his government. He had also said that deportation is not new and that the law must be upheld. Thousands of illegal Caribbean immigrants feel that they are more at risk after they were 'lured' into paying $50 to fill out an application form with personal data at an agency in Toronto, to register for a lobby to Ottawa for changes to the immigration policy. Immigration consultants and attorneys have described that as a scam. Efforts to obtain a comment from the agency proved futile but this newspaper was told that a press conference will be called at a date to be announced. And even as illegal Caribbean immigrants are wondering if they'll be next to face the wrath of the immigration department, a prominent immigration attorney, Roop Sharma, told The Camera that several persons have called his office saying that immigration officials have been calling them in without giving a reason. Reports are that there is a large number of illegal immigrants living and working underground in Ontario. Some have acquired assets such as a house and vehicle and in some case children were born here and attending schools. Sharma said once persons have been living here illegally and they are caught, then there is no recourse for them but deportation, unless they have filed for refugee or humanitarian status. Those who have already filed refugee claims are at risk, however, since Solberg recently said his government will remove bogus refugee claimants faster, noting that refugees who flee war, persecution and torture will be provided a "safe harbour." Sharma and immigration consultation, Clement Edwards said persons who applied for refugee status and had their application refused twice after an appeal was made could face deportation, they said. The Grenada-born Edwards said, however, that there is a chance for persons who have established themselves and who have abided with the laws to be granted legal immigrant status once their case is properly represented.

Among those showering praise on outgoing Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson, who spends his last day in office on March 30, is US President George W Bush, who called the Jamaican leader to wish him well. On Tuesday, Patterson received a call at his residence from Bush, who congratulated him on his outstanding service to Jamaica and expressed the hope that cordial relations will continue between his country and the island nation, a release from the Prime Minister's office said. Patterson told Bush he hoped that the US leader and his (Patterson's) successor, Portia Simpson-Miller, would work together to create peace and stability in the hemisphere. On Monday, Patterson had presided over his last scheduled cabinet meeting while Tuesday saw the country's MPs and Senators paying tribute to his fourteen years as Prime Minister. Among those paying tribute to the outgoing PM was former opposition leader Edward Seaga, former Governor General Sir Howard Cooke and members of both sides of the House. In response to their comments, Patterson said: "I expect that the years I have spent in the service of this nation will one day be dispassionately and objectively analyzed and whatever the final judgement upon my legacy … I will take comfort in the knowledge that in giving to my fellow citizens, I have done so with a clean hand and a pure heart." Patterson, meanwhile, has turned down job offers from the UN, Caricom and the OAS, saying he will now concentrate on writing his memoirs. Jamaica is now gearing up to swear in its first female Prime Minister. Some 6000 dignitaries from around the world are expected to attend the ceremony in Kingston on March 30.