Today 15 deportees, some on gun trafficking, drug trafficking and kidnapping charges, are expected to enter the country. However limited access to computer systems is hampering security tracking of the entrants.
Because of the COVID-19 restrictions, immigration officers are unable to properly interview the deportees and record their entrance.
To compound the issue, due to limited access to the computer system, immigration officials will also be unable to enter any detailed information on the individuals to ensure they are traceable by the local security arms after entering the country.
Usually, when deportees arrive they are interviewed by immigration officers and members of the Traffic Index, which is a part of the TTPS’ Special Branch and that information is entered into a national security database.
Contacted on the issue, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith directed all questions to Minister of National Security Stuart Young.
Also contacted, Young confirmed the deportees are expected in today.
“The USA has continued to deport Trinidad and Tobago nationals and this is the third batch of deportees we will receive since the COVID-19 pandemic,” Young said.
“We will always be in communication with the US authorities on these exercises and as before, we are prepared to receive the deportees.”
Young said there are “potentially serious consequences should T&T not receive these deportees”.
Guardian Media asked about the tracking of the individuals but Young said it was “completely untrue” that immigration officials are unaware of the arrival.
Immigration sources said their concern is the tracking of the individuals once they return to T&T. One source said since December, officials have had problems accessing the computer system and have not been properly registering people entering or leaving the country.
Young did not respond to subsequent questions for clarification about the tracking of the deportees.
Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews also did not respond to calls or texts on the matter. Guardian Media also contacted Deputy CIO Dereck Craigwell but he directed all calls back to Gandhi-Andrews.
Last week, Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar asked about the limited access to the computer systems at the Immigration Division and questioned who was coming into the country that the Government did not want the country to know about. Young was asked about that as well but did not respond.