The State has agreed not to deport a Venezuelan woman and her four-year-old daughter pending the determination of a lawsuit brought by her Trinidadian companion on their behalf.
State attorneys gave the undertaking in a consent order that was entered as an appeal against a judge’s decision not to grant a stay of their deportations, came up for virtual hearing before Appellate Judges Charmaine Pemberton and Peter Rajkumar, yesterday.
As part of the order, which resulted in the withdrawal of the appeal, the State agreed to release them from the immigration detention centre at the Chaguaramas Heliport after they pay a $3,200 security bond.
Permission was also granted by the Ministry of National Security for the woman to work pending the eventual outcome of the case.
According to the evidence in the case, the woman, who cannot be named to protect her daughter’s identity, entered the country illegally in April 2019 and participated in the Government’s registration scheme.
Last year, she returned to Venezuela for her daughter and they were arrested with a group of illegal immigrants in Barrackpore, shortly after arriving.
The woman’s ministerial permit was cancelled for the infraction and they were issued with deportation orders.
While being detained at the facility, the woman contracted COVID-19 but has since recovered.
In the substantive lawsuit, the woman’s companion, who she has been in a relationship with for over a year, claimed that State officials did not follow the proper procedure before issuing her with the deportation order.
He claimed that their constitutional rights were infringed as they were not given a fair hearing before the decision was made.
The trio sought an injunction preventing the deportation, which was denied by Justice Robin Mohammed on December 23, last year.
Mohammed stated that they would not suffer any prejudice if they were deported and the woman’s companion continued their case in their absence.
He also stated that their case did not have a realistic prospect of success based on the fact that they admitted to entering the country, while the borders are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In the case at bar, this public interest element is the second defendant’s ability to protect our borders and by extension the citizenry of this republic from harm or threat of harm, which is now further compounded by the pandemic,” Mohammed said.
“Based on facts put forward in this matter, the second claimant tested positive for Covid19 – which is the very reason why our own nationals cannot return home without exemptions and why the entire world is in its current state of crisis,” he added.
In the appeal, the trio’s lawyers claimed that Mohammed’s ruling bore striking similarities with the decision of Justice Frank Seepersad’s ruling in the recent case of an 11-year-old Venezuelan migrant, who was among a group that returned to T&T after being sent back, late last year.
Seepersad had refused to grant an injunction barring her deportation pending her lawsuit against the State. His decision was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeal.
As part of the appeal, the trio’s lawyers was seeking to have the case transferred from Mohammed to another judge.
They and their counterparts for the State had initially agreed to have the case transferred as part of the consent order between them, but both Pemberton and Rajkumar expressed disquiet over the proposal and it was removed.
The trio was represented by Elton Prescott, SC, Farai Hove-Masaisai, Antonya Pierre, and Jennifer Farah-Tull.
Reginald Armour, SC, Linda Khan and Ryanka Ragbir represented the State.