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Immigration minister insists amnesty is not political manoeuvring

The nation’s immigration and foreign affairs minister is maintaining that the government’s decision to introduce an immigration amnesty is not a political gimmick.

Speaking in Parliament, Minister E. P. Chet Greene underscored the importance of the positive contributions of non-nationals. He reiterated that the amnesty, which was carefully considered, is being introduced to provide relief to those who have been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced difficulties updating their status.

Greene asked the House of Representatives whether the Gaston Browne administration, in good conscience, should deport entire families instead of devising solutions on behalf of struggling immigrants.

“What do you do with a young Jamaican male who has four children in Antigua with an Antiguan mother, has no criminal record, fights everyday in terms of his work, he goes out to work every day to feed his children?”

“Is it reasonable that we uproot him and his children and send them packing to Kingston?” Greene asked rhetorically. “Is it fair that we not recognise he has no criminal record and is making a contribution to our national development?”

Minister Greene stressed the need for adequate labour to meet the development plans outlined in Budget 2022. Therefore, an amnesty is justified to ensure there is no void in skills and labour.

“Mr. Speaker, it makes sense, therefore, for us to grant amnesty to persons so that they can not only fulfill part of the labour needs, but that they can do so without having to import new workers into the country. In other words, I’m positing that we have amongst us, within our shores the requisite numbers, but we need to make intervention with respect to regularising their status for national good and national development,” he outlined.

The immigration amnesty will begin on 1st March, 2022 and conclude on 30th April, 2022.

Applicants who have resided here continuously over four years, but who have not completed seven years, will be granted residency. Additionally, those who have resided here for more than seven years will be placed on a path to citizenship.

Minister Greene informed prospective applicants that all fees will be waived during the amnesty period.

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