Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn has called out some immigration officers for what he describes as xenophobia, abuse, deception and discrimination, particularly against other citizens of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
He declared: “When I see the things that some of my fellow Immigration Officers did or are continuing to people who come to Barbados, especially Caricom nationals, it hurts me.
“They deceive them. They don’t tell them the truth. It is a kind of xenophobia.
“They don’t want them here.”
Senator Franklyn reminded immigration officers that they must be guided by the law and not their personal preferences.
He said: “[Non-nationals] are all being abused by officialdom people who don’t want them bout here. I caution officers to tell them it is not their decision.
“They are functionaries and they must carry out Government policy.
“Whether you like it or not, if the Government says this is what we must do this is what you do.
“If you don’t like it leave find another job. They might tell me I am a trade unionist and you can’t tell them so. I am a man with a conscience first.
“I am saying to you if you have a difficulty with the policy and the law then you are in the wrong job. Find something else to do.
“Immigrate, do whatever you want but follow the law.”
The senator, a trade unionist by profession, said that while he knows some people lie to Immigration officers and that made them even more suspicious it was no excuse not to follow the set guidelines.
He said: “I understand where Immigration Officers come from.
“People come to you and they lie and after a while you believe everybody is telling you a lie.
“You build up that kind of mentality. You may need to change out do something else and come back because you think that every person that is coming to you is telling a lie so you doubt them first.
“Even when they produce the documentation that is needed you still reject them.”
Franklyn said he knew of cases where the law was not being upheld. He cited a case where he had to intervene.
“Nurses at the QEH came from Guyana worked 10 years and they want to move on they want to do something else but they [Immigration] told them no.
“Mind you, Section 4 of the Citizenship Act says that if you have seven years living or working for the Government or a combination of both for seven years you can become a citizen. But they wouldn’t tell them anything.
“A nurse came to me one day I explained it to her I showed a copy of the Act she said: ‘But no one at Immigration told me so.'”
He praised and supported the changes to the legislation saying it is “specific” as it tells the Immigration officers what they must do.
The senator: “This piece of legislation says the dependents can come.
“So I commend this legislation.
“The immigration can’t stop them now.”