Elections in Antigua and Barbuda are definitely imminent, as Prime Minister Gaston Browne has announced that another amnesty for non-nationals is being contemplated, but locals say the move is not to be trusted.
At the time, Browne was speaking to the economic recovery he expects in 2022 and saying that all hands will be needed to ensure a full rebound.
Persons residing here illegally have to contribute, he says, and extending an amnesty would allow them to do so within the law.
The Prime Minister says the issue will be discussed this week with his Cabinet colleagues.
Over the years, the tendency of some immigrants to allow their legal “time” in the country to lapse has been an issue.
Browne says some persons have been residing here for more than 20 years; are well integrated into the society; and have had children, but are not up to date with their time.
He says, as well, that many immigrants own homes here and have jobs.
However, he says, he is not encouraging immigrants against keeping their status current, since the practice is illegal.
Several residents tell REAL News they are extremely distrustful of this possible offer by Browne’s Administration, and they cite recent rumours of immigrants being imported from a Windward Island – for the purpose of padding certain constituencies for the next elections.
Specifically, the locals point to four urban communities – St. John’s Rural East, Rural South, City South and Rural West, which all have significant immigrant populations – as the constituencies targeted for padding.
Accordingly, pundits say the Electoral Commission Registration Units in these areas need to be kept under close scrutiny.