According to Harris, the initiative was part of larger efforts to boost law and order in the twin island federation.
“The law is the law,” said Harris at his monthly press conference on Wednesday “violations of our laws will not be tolerated.”
On October 22, approximately 100 illegal immigrants were detained by police and immigration officials in response to concerns about violations to the Noise Abatement Act, lewd behavior, traffic congestion, suspected illegal operations at bars, fighting, and allegations of human trafficking.
Twenty-nine of the immigrants that were detained are reportedly still in custody.
The minister of national security said that the individuals in question “have overstayed”, some as far back as 2010. Some of the detainees were only granted provisional entry to attend funerals, weddings, or to visit sick relatives, but used the opportunity to overstay.
“That is what they came purportedly to do and they refused to voluntarily leave the country or seek extensions from the appropriate authorities,” Harris stated.
In 2014, and again in 2015, amnesty was granted for non-nationals, who were here illegally, to regularize their status.
The prime minister reported that 96 persons took advantage of both amnesty periods.
Thirteen were from the Dominican Republic and the remaining 83 were from CARICOM (Caribbean Community) member states.
“This means that the majority of the illegal immigrants who were detained by the police and immigration had ample time and opportunity during the last two amnesty periods to have their status legitimized,” Harris said.
“In St. Kitts and Nevis, as in the Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Columbia, USA, Canada, Jamaica, name any country … there are consequences for noncompliance with the law. Throughout the world every responsible state pursues an appropriate immigration policy and our state is no different in that regard.”
Harris added that the authorities were upholding the law and protecting the citizenry and thanked the individuals who contacted law enforcement to report the various breaches of law that were taking place.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister reassured the public that the country remains open to receive legitimate visitors and migrants.
“We are not an unfriendly country. We are a welcoming destination and people are free to come and to stay but it must be done legally and properly,” he said. “There is no other way to maintain civility, to maintain law and order than to ensure that people come and people are staying and behaving properly in accordance with the law.”
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