BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS – All but one country – St. Kitts and Nevis – have expressed concern that US President Donald Trump’s immigration policies could lead to a slowdown in travel to a region dependent on tourism.
As Caribbean leaders, except St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris – ended their mid-term summit in Guyana’s capital city Georgetown, incoming CARICOM Chairman Dr. the Right Hon. Keith Mitchell — Prime Minister of Grenada — said the trade bloc has adopted a “wait-and-see attitude” with respect to America’s evolving migration policy and how it affects the region’s vital tourism industry.
No representative from the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis attended the Inter-Sessional – and there has been no official statement from the Office of Prime Minister Harris on his absence or that of the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign affairs or the Ambassador to CARICOM.
The Grenada Prime Minister Mitchell told a news conference: “We must obviously be concerned with the recent issue related to immigration, and the impact it will have on our citizens and… on tourism.”
Millions of Caribbean nationals including citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis live in the United State as permanent residents, naturalized citizens or illegal aliens.
Many travel regularly to their home countries, while others send remittances totalling hundreds of millions of dollars each year to relatives who remain in the Caribbean.
Prime Minister Mitchell said he understands the reluctance of some Caribbean residents in the US not to leave the country.
Trump’s attempted crackdown on refugees and immigrants from some majority Muslim countries has raised concerns that he may try to impose harsher travel restrictions on them as well.
“The uncertainty is there so clearly that has to be settled,” said the Grenadian leader, who once lived in the US for 14 years.
Dr. Mitchell said he hoped that the US Congress would temper Trump’s executive actions on immigration.
“You can’t ignore the voices of the people of the United States, so I expect that this thing has to settle — the uncertainty cannot continue,” Mitchell said.
“I believe when the dust is settled, things must improve, because our borders are too close to the United States for them to risk uncertainty or problems in our direction,” he said.
Trump said on Thursday he will announce a new executive order on immigration next week, after his original, much-criticized travel ban was blocked by US courts.
The January 27 order was widely criticized as amounting to a ban on Muslims, and also for being rolled out sloppily — with virtually no warning to the public or preparation of the agencies tasked with enforcing it.
The Twenty-Eighth Inter-Sessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was held at Georgetown, Guyana, on 16-17 February 2017.
The President of Guyana, His Excellency Brigadier (Ret’d) David Granger, chaired the proceedings. Other members of the Conference in attendance were Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Honourable Gaston Browne; Prime Minister of Barbados, Rt. Honourable Freundel Stuart; Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr. the Honourable Roosevelt Skerrit; Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. the Rt. Honourable Keith Mitchell; President of Haiti, His Excellency Jovenel Moise; Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr. the Honourable Ralph Gonsalves; and Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley.
The Bahamas was represented by Honourable Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration; Belize was represented by Honourable Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs; Jamaica was represented by Senator, Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade; Saint Lucia was represented by Honourable Sarah Flood Beaubrun, Minister in charge of External Affairs; Suriname was represented by Honourable Yldiz Pollack-Beighle, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The Associate Member in attendance was Turks and Caicos Islands, represented by Deputy Premier, Honourable Sean Astwood, Minister of Border Control and Labour.