National Security Minister Dr Horace Chang is calling for the establishment of common legislation and a regional migration policy to address the flow of people travelling across the CARICOM region.
It is anticipated that the measures will help to create the uniformity needed to exert better control.
Chang, who was speaking earlier this week at the 26th Meeting of CARICOM Standing Committees of Chiefs of Immigration and Comptrollers of Customs, in Montego Bay, said illegal immigration practices have skyrocketed in the Americas as people have sought to flee difficult economic conditions brought on by the suspension of international travel and the partial shutdown of the global economy during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“CARICOM countries were similarly affected by the increased illegal migration trends,” said Chang, in speaking to the agenda behind the three-day event.
The meet offered regional border security officials the scope to analyse immigration processes, assess the status of regional security institutions, and determine the need for change considering new and emerging trends.
While not providing supporting statistics, Chang stated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, unlawful human trafficking increased significantly across the region.
“In 2022, the Joint Regional Communications Centre (JRCC) reported that there were human smuggling rings operating within the region, and those activities often resulted in multiple deaths at sea or while traversing smuggling routes in Central America,” said Chang.
“Given the clear and present threat of these illegal migration practices to our people, we must undertake as a matter of priority, the development of model legislation and a regional migration policy to assist in bringing greater structure to the governance framework for the movement of people across the region,” added Chang.
Chang said Jamaica is already taking action to address the situation by developing a national visa policy that was created out of a broad-based consultative process and is now in its final phases of development. He further noted that extra work is being done to change Jamaica’s immigration legislation to suit this expanded visa regime.
“Consistent with the thrust to have greater security and safety standards among CARICOM nations, there is the need for a universal approach to treat the readmission and reintegration of involuntary return migrants (IRMs),” argued Chang.
Chang also noted that the involuntary return of migrants from third-party states is still being debated at the CARICOM level.
“Receiving updates from the deportation sub-committee is therefore critical to improving our processes for the readmission and reintegration of these nationals,” said Chang.
View the discussion thread.