Chastanet had asserted recently, among other things, that 800 criminal deportees were sent back to this country by the United States in one year.
However he now says that figure was in respect of criminals returned to the nine-nation organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
The assertion brought a response from the US Embassy in Barbados, which pointed out that United States government statistics indicate that the total number of deportees returned to St Lucia in the last five years was less than 100. In 2015, there were only eight such cases.
In apologizing for the error the Prime Minister said he did not want that to be the issue at hand, when there is a bigger issue at play relating to the security of the country.
The St Lucia leader observed that there is a deportee problem, which predated his assuming leadership of this country and is an issue for not this country alone.
Chastanet explained that the point of his original deportee statement was not to condemn the US.
“We are strong allies of the United States,” he declared, adding that because there is a difference of opinion with Washington does not put this country at odds with the Americans.
“It does not mean that if something is not working to our benefit or hurting us we do not have freedom to say so,” Chastanet observed.
He said that governments in the Caribbean need to change their strategy and approach to the United States.
“Right now I believe we have become irrelevant and part of that is because we are not speaking with one voice from Caricom,” the St Lucia Prime Minister asserted.
He said there was need to understand US politics, have a stronger relationship with political parties in the US and mount a lobbying effort in the US.
The US government said it only deports convicted criminals back to their country of origin in consultation with that country’s government.
In the case of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, the U.S. Embassy in Bridgetown sends letters to local police or other relevant authorities informing them of the crime for which the individual is being deported, all pertinent information about the logistics of their return, and how local law enforcement can receive more detailed information regarding the criminal history of the individual.
The lead U.S. government agency conducting deportations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is focused on smart, effective immigration enforcement that prioritizes threats to national security, public safety, and border security.
It is the view of the United States that each country has an international obligation to accept the return of its nationals who are not eligible to remain in the United States or any other country.
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