Visitors are free to enter Barbados, but the Immigration Department will not be relaxing its efforts to secure the island’s borders from “persons who wish to harm the country”.
That’s the stance of Chief Immigration Officer, Erine Griffith, who urged her officers to remain resolute in performing their gatekeeper role.
The official was speaking at the end this morning’s “important and happy” induction of 200 new Barbadian citizens during a ceremony attended by Governor General Sir Elliott Belgrave, Chief Justice Marston Gibson and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
She told them and others present at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre that contrary to what some might think, her department’s dual role of facilitator and gatekeeper had become more difficult.
“We must be facilitator and gate keeper. At the same time we are welcoming people to Barbados we are the gate keepers and that is something that must not be forgotten,” she noted.
“I think that the officers are to be praised for performing two such disparate roles in conjunction with each other. I take this opportunity to remind the country of the absolute seriousness of our roles in protecting this wonderful country.
“I remind the staff that we are special because we are entrusted with the task of protecting our ports of entry, our borders, no one else can do it it’s our job.
“It might have been expected that the task would have grown easier with the passage of time since we now have increased access to technology. That is not the case because persons who wish to harm the country are keeping abreast with the same technology that we are keeping abreast of and we ask Barbadians generally … to understand our special position and to place your support firmly behind us, we cannot do it without you,” she added.
Griffith also praised immigration officers for their commitment and support “and showing that no task was too big or too small”.
“Without your work the department would not be where it is, with your work it has grown and will continue to grow and we will achieve more as the years go by. I recognise as you must that ours is by its very nature a very difficult job to perform,” she said.
Griffith thanked the new citizens for showing their love for Barbados by seeking to become citizens.
“I pray that you will continue to love this country and assist in its development. You are special because you chose to be Barbadians, it didn’t just happen,” she told them. (SC)