Further details of the Government’s amnesty programme have been revealed; and while Minister of Immigration Paul “Chet” Greene is assuring non-nationals that it is not a trap, residents are calling it a wholesale buy-out.
The initiative – which many residents have concluded is a bribe and a scheme by the Gaston Browne Administration to capture the non-national vote – runs from March 1 to April 30.
Greene says that immigrants who have resided here for a period of four continuous years – but who have not yet completed seven years – will be granted residency under the amnesty. Additionally, persons with seven years or more of residency will be cleared for citizenship.
Therefore, the Minister calls all eligible immigrants to come forward and “settle their status without fear.”
Meanwhile, according to today’s Notes from the Cabinet, its discussions on Wednesday, February 16, focused “on the fees which would have been incurred and may yet remain unpaid by members in the immigrant community.”
Therefore, it says, the Cabinet has determined that quite a number of people would not be able to access the amnesty if all outstanding fees are to be paid in full.
Accordingly, “Consideration is being given to waive the fees that are in arrears, and to provide a rebate on the $1,800 that would normally be required to meet the administrative cost of citizenship,” this week’s Cabinet Notes indicate.
The initiative will be administered by the Department of Immigration.
Some residents tell REAL News that this is “proof positive” that the Browne Cabinet is “prepared to use and lose government resources to win the next elections,” while a civil servant refers to it as a “wholesale buyout” of the illegal immigrant community.
On the other hand, a naturalized citizen, a native of Guyana, is furious about this turn of events.
“I came here and lived by the rules. I paid up my time and my children’s time for years until we got our citizenship. And now you’re telling me that I could have stayed illegal and get the same thing?” she asks.
“It’s not fair to us! It’s not fair!” she declares.