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Trinidad, Venezuela to ‘meet’ on migration issue

Trinidad, Venezuela to ‘meet’ on migration issue

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PORT OF SPAIN – The Trinidad and Tobago government on Friday dismissed suggestions that it had been “summoned” to a meeting with Venezuela to discuss the ongoing migration issue as several Venezuelan nationals, including 16 children, continue their quest for refugee status here.

National Security Minister, Stuart Young, responding to an opposition question in the Parliament, said that no date had yet been set for the meeting with his counterpart and refrained from making statements on the latest controversy surrounding the Venezuelans because the matter is now sub judice.

“Madam Speaker I smiled at the use of the word summoned. I assume this question derives from social media tweet that is attributed to the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Venezuela. A proper conversion of the particular word is not summoned,” Young told Parliament.

“The Venezuelan authorities have asked for the convening of a meeting with the government of Trinidad and Tobago and I take the opportunity to repeat, as I have said on many occasions…months ago I held a meeting, I led a delegation on behalf of National Security with the equivalent Minister of Internal Security Affairs in Venezuela …and his team and we continue those discussions. So this meeting is yet another one of those meetings.”

Young said as on the last occasion, this would be a virtual meeting because of COVID.

He said the date of the meeting “is to be determined” and informed legislators also that the Keith Rowley government might be considering an extension of the legal status granted to Venezuelans almost a year ago allowing them to live and work here.

He said that the size of the country is something that the government is “very conscience of” and that its first duty is to protect and secure its citizens.

“In 2019, we carried out an exercise, we invited all Venezuelans that are here legally or illegally to come forward and register with us. We now know that out of that registration process, 16 523 Venezuelans were registered regardless of their prior status.

“We also made it very clear, abundantly clear and I repeated it at that time those who did not register how we will be dealing with it. At this stage I cannot state what is the intention of the government with respect to the future…and at this stage there is no plan for us to carry out another registration exercise”.

Young told legislators that he would be seeking Cabinet approval “to extend the period for those who are currently registered and to extend that courtesy that is being offered to them under the Immigration Act”. (CMC)