ILLEGAL VESSELS INTERCEPTION AND LANDINGS DURING THE PERIOD OF MONDAY, 30TH MARCH – FRIDAY, 3RD APRIL 2020
The Ministry of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services continues the battle of illegal migrants breaching the borders of the Turks and Caicos Islands. This week, thus far, shows multiple landings and interceptions of illegal migrant vessels mostly within the Northwest area of Providenciales.
During the past week, we had the US Coast Guard assistance in turning back a vessel with approximately 300 hundred persons onboard; the Haiti Coast Guard reporting of another vessel with large amounts being returned to Haiti and plus we have had a few illegal drop-offs by speedboats in the vicinity of Northwest Point. However, on the night of April 03rd, 2020, the Marine Branch of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force intercepted a vessel and brought it to shore with a total of 152 individuals on board. Shortly after this landing, Officers of the Enforcement Unit, Immigration Department, responded to reports received from 911 and the public of another illegal vessel with an undetermined amount of persons landing in the Northwest section of Providenciales. From this landing, so far, Officers apprehended 18 persons so far and are continuing to work diligently with 911 and Police to capture many more. Those captured and other detainees are being held at the Gustavus Lightbourne Auditorium which are presently being used as a temporary Detention Centre as of 30th March 2020. At this site the illegals processed by the Medical Team and the Immigration Department. Arrangements are being advanced for their repatriation to their homeland. The total so far at the Gustavus Lightbourne Building is 170 persons.
The Hon. Vaden Williams, Minister of Immigration, Citizenship, Labour and Employment Services states: “I wish to thank all of the various agencies, especially the Immigration Department, for their prompt and active responses to this very challenging period. I also want to ensure the public, that my Government is doing all within our powers to stem this flow of illegal migration especially as we are going through this COVID-19 pandemic. Hon. Williams, also thanked the public and encouraged them to remain alert and to report any suspicious activities to authorities. He went on to say that he will be introducing measures shortly for persons involved in this illegal behaviour.
The Enforcement Agencies of the Turks and Caicos Islands are again asking anyone with information concerning planned and landed arrivals of other vessels, poachers and any suspicious movements of persons to contact the Police anonymously on 911 or Crime Stoppers anonymously on 1-800-8477 TIPS. Information or tips can be submitted anonymously in English, French or Spanish on either www.crimestoppers.tc or on Facebook as a fan of Crime Stoppers Turks & Caicos. Crime Stoppers tips are received in the USA.
In addition, the public is also reminded that it is an offence to harbour or assist illegal persons and that persons found guilty engaging in such activities are liable to a fine of US$20,000 or a term of imprisonment of four years, or both in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance 2018 Revised.