Prime Minister Kenny Anthony of St Lucia was upfront in welcoming the commendable new United States immigration policy promulgated last month by President Barack Obama.
Done by executive order, the new Obama-decreed Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy will have the immediate effect of preventing impending deportations of many thousands of young Caribbean and Latin American citizens who are under the age of 30 and are either students or working.
They would have entered the United States as juveniles and even though with crime-free records, their status is that of “illegal immigrants” and they live in constant fear of deportation.
Further, as a consequence of the “illegal” status, these young immigrants, who have grown up in America, are being frustrated in securing employment with the skills acquired, through education and training, in the “land of the free and home of the brave.”
President Obama, conscious of the political value in wooing the support of the huge Latin American and Caribbean diasporas, had committed himself to correcting what is widely viewed as an immoral and discriminatory policy by superpower United States.
Therefore, when he participated in the Sixth Summit Of The Americas last April in Colombia, Mr Obama had indicated to hemispheric leaders his preparedness to change this unfair immigration policy, though aware of likely political fallouts with Republicans in this presidential election year.
Well, now that Prime Minister Anthony has openly praised President Obama for the benefits to flow to Caribbean nationals from his new immigration policy, he has the responsibility, as new chairman of the 15-member Caribbean Community (Caricom), to ensure that this week’s 33rd Annual Heads Of Government Conference in Castries, formally expresses appreciation to Mr Obama.
Such a decision, expected to be unanimous, should also serve as a reminder to those Caricom governments whose own immigration policy continues to affect Caricom nationals: arbitrary deportations and students whose parents/guardians are without legal status – for varying reasons – but who have violated no domestic laws.
Mr Obama’s quest for justice for foreign nationals who have grown up in America and are anxious to end their status as “illegal immigrants” should be emulated in the context of a new people-oriented, justice-driven Caricom policy by our heads of Government. (Barbados Nation News)