Prime ministers Chastanet and Gonsalves have recently proffered their respective opinions and concerns about the deportation of persons convicted of crimes in the United States and the impact of this repatriation on crime throughout the Caribbean.
Over the years criminologists across the region have weighed in on this issue and it is clear that the Caribbean continues to struggle with this new paradigm.
I think that most of us would agree that the skills and knowledge that may have been acquired by persons convicted of criminal activity in a first world country are likely to be far more advanced than persons living in our neck of the woods. To this end, the prime ministerial assertions can be viewed as plausible if not realistic. Notwithstanding that perspective though, perhaps it is also important for us to view this issue from other vantage points. If we were living in the US, would it be considered unreasonable for us in a country that appears to be struggling with crime to look for ways to reduce the incidences of crime? Would we consider deportation of foreign nationals as an option if it was perceived to be easier and more cost effective in reducing our crime statistics? And should we decide to go that route would we be making the moral or ethical choice? Maybe, maybe not, but it appears to be the avenue that the Americans have chosen at this time.
In my opinion and while I can certainly appreciate the gravity of criminal repatriation, it is clear that whether we choose to agree with the practice or not, any country, including Barbados, has a sovereign right to deport a non-national from its shores as guided by its laws. As such, I would therefore like to propose that as a Caribbean we need to stand united and resolute in our agitations to the US for more assistance, advance training, technical expertise, infrastructure and equipment to help us manage the impact of criminal deportation. I am confident that our call in this regard will bear more fruit than pointing fingers alone.
–– Sean St. Clair Fields