The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is being invaded by Haiti, said leader of the opposition Progressive National Party (PNP), Washington Misick, singling out the local Haitian consulate as “potentially in collusion with the perpetrators of these vicious crime of human trafficking.”
Misick was addressing the people of the TCI via a Facebook video on April 1, in response to the recent capsize of a migrant vessel off West Caicos, a tragedy that claimed at least 14 lives.
In the video which was also shared on the PNP’s Facebook page on April 2, Misick said, “I must also condemn those mercenaries who would exploit the vulnerabilities of persons who are essentially persons who have very little hope, and so they decide to do desperate things and to hand over whatever resources they could put their hands on to escape the poverty of Haiti.”
The opposition leader went on to question if there is a purpose for a Haitian consulate in the TCI and asked if the Haitian consulate is in the TCI to help be a part of the solution to the illegal entry by boats from Haiti or if it is part of the problem:
“…one has to ask the question what purpose does the Haitian consulate serve in these islands? Whether they are a beacon of hope of light that says to the persons who want to escape that this is a safe haven to come to or whether they potentially are in collusion with the perpetrators of these vicious crime of human trafficking.”
He also questioned the effectiveness of the TCI government’s efforts to deal with the situation:
“I decry the fact that the government has not provided the financial resources that are necessary to make sure that our borders are protected. We’re spending huge amounts of money repatriating people when we all know the popular adage that prevention is better than cure.
“So, what we ought to have been spending the money on, is making sure that our borders are protected. Instead, what the government has done, they have defanged ‘Operation Guardian.’ One would notice that there is no provision in the 2018/2019 budget for ‘Operation Guardian’ and therefore ‘Operation Guardian’ has been disbanded. Listening to the minister of immigration, [Sean R Astwood] one would think otherwise but the fact is they have been disbanded and disbanded for the last year or so.”
The illegal migrant situation has long been a heavy financial burden on the TCI government. Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson, speaking at a news conference on April 20, 2018, said the excessive expenditure of repatriation costs are draining the TCI’s finances that could be used to further develop the country. According to Cartwright-Robinson, the TCI government spent a total of US$4.3 million in the last four years on repatriation of illegal migrants.