NY consular pushes for roundtable on deportation

ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Deputy Consul at Antigua & Barbuda’s New York office Omyma David believes Antiguans and Barbudans need to re-examine their attitudes to nationals deported here from the United States.

She deals with a large amount of Antigua & Barbuda’s deportation cases and said that while the conversations usually surround the fear of a criminal element, many of those who are deported are not hardened criminals.

Some she said have been rehabilitated, some are first time offenders, some are held for minor offences, such as an accumulation of parking tickets, and some are innocent marks with bad legal representation. Besides, she said, the idea that the exploding crime rate can be linked directly to the deportees is not supported by the statistics.

“I have been calling for us to have a deportation roundtable so nationals can understand the different faces of deportation, as well as the way it tears families apart,” David said.

A deportation roundtable, she feels, could result in “greater sensitivity on this issue.”

David’s office has been doing exit interviews with deportees since 2005. The unrushed three-to-four hour interview, she said, has helped.

In addition to debriefing them, getting a sense of their history, she said, they prepare them for the realities of home, making sure that they have some kind of structure or support system.

(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)