Illegal immigrants are currently being kept at police stations as there continue to be insufficient space at the Immigration Detention Centre in Aripo.
This was revealed by Minister of National Security Stuart Young in the Senate on Tuesday. Young was asked by Opposition Senator Wade Mark in light of statements made by the Chief Immigration Officer that exercises to detain illegal immigrants are on halt because there is no more room at the facility.
Young said this was inaccurate as just on Monday, 20 illegal immigrants were held. He said he could not say why the Chief Immigration Officer made that statement but did admit that the Immigration Detention Centre is very close to capacity.
He said Government is dealing with that situation by using temporary holding areas like the police stations to keep illegal immigrants.
In the long term, he said Government is looking at using a compound which was purchased by the People’s Partnership Government for the purpose of a prison but never put to use. The minister was referring to the Eastern Correctional and Rehabilitation Centre at Santa Rosa.
“That warehouse that was purchased by the former administration for hundreds of millions of dollars that wasn’t sufficient to be a full-scale prison, we are looking at utilising that now for the detention of illegal immigrants,” he said.
Young could not give a definite time frame for this but did say work to make the site suitable has already begun.
On Sunday, the MP for Tabaquite Dr Suruj Rambachan said it seemed as if law enforcement had given up in protecting the country’s borders.
He said there was a clear immigration crisis that the Government cannot handle. Young said that was far from the truth and accused the Opposition MP of attempting to create a crisis where there was none.