Friday 30 October, 2020

Young clarifies proposed policy for registering Venezuelans

National Security Minister Stuart Young speaks at the Post Cabinet Media Briefing on February 28, 2019.

National Security Minister Stuart Young speaks at the Post Cabinet Media Briefing on February 28, 2019.

Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago whether legally or illegally may soon be able to register with the National Security Ministry through the Immigration Division and work for a period of one year.

The proposal is to be brought before Cabinet for consideration at its next sitting.

Speaking at the Post Cabinet media briefing on Thursday, National Security Minister Stuart Young sought to clarify the proposed registration process.

Subject to Cabinet approval, Young is proposing an amnesty be offered to Venezuelan nationals in T&T to be registered through the Immigration Division.

Each individual registered will be issued an identification card.  

The registration process will allow these nationals to work for a period of a year, but more importantly, it will provide the Government with accurate data on the number of Venezuelans in the country.

Young said it would put to rest the loose figures in the tens of thousands being bandied about.

“If you consider that the population of Tobago is around 60,000 - a maximum of around 80,000 - you begin to understand that the figures being bandied around are very unlikely to be true.

But, rather than speculate, I am going to be asking my Cabinet colleagues and the Government to take a decision to allow us to register all legal and illegal Venezuelans who are here in Trinidad, provide them with an identification card as part of the policy I intend to propose to Cabinet to allow them to work here, those who have registered during this period of time to work here for a year in the first instance.”

He said Venezuelans who are working legally (issued work or ministerial permits) in T&T for that period will be entitled to benefits such as Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE).

The Minister said Government is hopeful that Venezuela’s political crisis would be resolved within that period and nationals will return to their home as the country’s affairs are stabilised.

He said if this does not happen Government will “deal with it closer to the time”.

Young assured that a verification exercise will be carried out to ensure that only Venezuelan nationals are registered.

“As part of this process…we will not be seeking to detain anyone coming to register in that process if they are here illegally.

It is an opportunity to come and register legally and get your registration card and work for a year, provided all of this is subject to Cabinet approval.”

But, Young was adamant that anyone found in breach of the policy having provided false information will be deported.

He explained that once the amnesty period and the registration period is closed off Venezuelans found to have entered T&T illegally will be detained in accordance with the “normal law”.

Young added that the registration process would be separate from those seeking asylum or refugee status.

“This is a pure registration of who is here on the ground by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.”

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