Latin American Juan Abrahan Ramirez Rijo is overjoyed to return to his homeland.
“I am happy because I know that I am now . . . going to be able to see my family,” the 35-year-old Dominican Republic man told Bridgetown Magistrate Douglas Frederick today.
His happiness came after Immigration officer Terry Simmons through an interpreter informed him that a one-way ticket back to Santo Domingo in his name had already been purchased to facilitate his trip on Saturday, June 1.
Slapping his handcuffed hands to his face, his eyes filled with tears, Ramirez expressed his appreciation to Magistrate Frederick and Simmons for their help in getting him back home.
However, Ramirez is not the only one happy with the development.
Simmons told the District ‘A’ Magistrates’ Court that the Immigration Department was “ very relieved” that the matter was now settled and thanked all who were instrumental in getting the non-national back home.
Ramirez was one of 13 people rescued from a small vessel by the crew of a cruise ship en route to Barbados on December 20. The boat was adrift 47 nautical miles from Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico.
The 13, including a pregnant woman, were medically examined and were housed here “in a secured location” until they were identified. They were also allowed to contact family and friends in an effort to return home. After being held here for two weeks, all but Ramirez were sent home.
Immigration officials both here and overseas had been working feverishly to ascertain his identity and obtain travel documents in order to have him sent home. A copy of that document was only obtained recently.
“It was a long and difficult process, one that I personally would never like to encounter again but we thank you [Magistrate Frederick] and we think the Ramirez Rijo will be quite happy with this,” Simmons stated.
“I am happy . . . to return to my country Santo Domingo. Thank you,” Ramirez responded.
The magistrate then convicted, reprimanded and discharged Ramirez on the criminal damage charge which landed him at HMP Dodds for almost two months.
He had pleaded guilty to damaging an external door, two door locks and hardware, a washroom doorframe and drywall at the Grantley Adams International Airport detention centre where he was initially held.
Frederick ordered that he be released to immigration on Saturday June 1 for deportation.