Young to Venezuelans: 'Don't allow anyone to talk you out of registering'

Friday, May 24, 2019 - 09:30

National Security Minister Stuart Young is sending a message to Venezuelan nationals in Trinidad and Tobago, "do not to listen" to those telling them to stay away from the registration process.

At a news conference in Port-of-Spain on Friday, Minister Young said that it is in their own interest, because when the registration process is done, the state will revert to enforcing the law of deporting persons who are here illegally.

He has made a fresh call for all Venezuelans, whether here legally or not, to come forward and register during the time-period May 31 to June 14.

"I want to tell you of the consequence of not registering. Come June 15, persons who have not taken part in the registration process, we revert back to the enforcement of the law as it currently stands. Do not listen to anyone trying to convince you not to participate in the exercise," he said.

The Ministry of National Security, which is spearheading the process, has reduced the number of registration centres from five to three.

They will be at the Queen's Park Oval in Port-of-Spain, the Achievers Banquet Hall in San Fernando and the Caroline Building on Wilson Street, Scarborough, Tobago.

He said that there has been an over-subscription of persons responding to the call for interpreters, translators and assistants for the process.

The process will involve an online segment, in which persons will be asked to fill out forms, following which they will acquire identification numbers. 

The forms will be both in English and Spanish.

At each registration point, there will be computer terminals for those wishing to fill out their forms and there will be assistants there to help.

He said there will only be a certain number of persons registered daily but that no one will be turned away.

The registration form will also allow for the registration of children.

Persons will then be taken to a desk for verification, fingerprinting and photographing.

"Everyone, including children, will be registered that way," Young said.

He added that the representatives of the Minister of Health will also be available and that quick health scans will be conducted to ensure there are no issues regarding the health of those being registered.

In the end, everyone will be given a receipt which will entitle them to a registration card.

Registration cards will only be given to Venezuelans above the age of 16, and will allow them the opportunity to stay and work in Trinidad and Tobago for a year.

Young said the cards will have special security features and can also be used by Immigration officials for verifications.

He has reiterated that the cards will not prevent those involved in illegal activities, from being deported, adding that national security operatives have been getting information from Interpol with regards to those involved in criminal activity.

"So we have a red flag list of anyone who comes up as a criminal," he said.

He said he has signed around 10 deportation orders in the last few weeks. 

Minister Young insists that the government's policy on Venezuelans has not changed and that the decision by Immigration officials to grant supervision orders to 93 Venezuelans held in Palo Seco this week, is not a new thing.

According to the minister, Immigration officials must take into consideration the space at the Immigration Detention Centre and also the care needed for women and children.

He said in that case, it would be more humane to release them on supervision orders, with requirements for them to appear every two weeks so that their whereabouts can be tracked.

"There is no softening of our policy," he said.

On the other end, he said that the authorities have discussed with Venezuela's 'Guardia National', efforts to also stop shiploads of Venezuelans from travelling from Venezuela to Trinidad and Tobago.

The cost of the registration process is $5 million but the minister said the figure is fluid as they may come across contingencies that they have not catered for before.

- Sampson Nanton