Immigration statistics do not support the allegation that Barbados is discriminating against Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals seeking entry into this country.
Government Senator Darcy Boyce sought to make that clear in the Senate today as he led off debate on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill, 2014.
Boyce, who has responsibility for immigration in the Freundel Stuart administration told his colleagues: “We hear very often about the number of people we deport from this country because they have overstayed their time. The numbers may sound high when you look at them by themselves. In 2013, Barbados deported 176 people. However, we had 1.4 million arrivals that year. So that the number that we deported was actually a very, very small percentage, less than one per cent.”
He also noted that in 2013, 133 CARICOM nationals were not allowed to enter the country. That was a fraction of the 125,000 who arrived in the island that year.
“[That is] one person in every thousand persons not being allowed to land,” Boyce pointed out.
“I have to say that because people have this impression that the Immigration Department is there looking to round up CARICOM people and sending them back out. We do not have the resources or the inclination to carry out such an operation. We benefit from the interaction of CARICOM nationals in Barbados. Some of them fill very key jobs in our country; they enrich our culture.”
The Government Senator went on to give specifics about Guyanese and Jamaicans denied entry.
“If you speak about the Guyanese, 55 of them were stopped in 2013 out of 16,600, once again less than half of one per cent. When you look at the case of the Jamaicans, 50 were not allowed to land out of 10,800 persons, once again less than half of one per cent,” he explained.
Boyce said he had to release those statistics because people had been attacking personnel of the Immigration Department who were doing their job.
Stressing that the officers should not be seen as anti-CARICOM nationals, Boyce added: “When I am asked to review some of these matters, 99 out of 100 times I find no cause to reverse the decision made by the Immigration Department . . . In every case of deportation there is good reason for such action.”