BTA-committee discovers bogus employers

POSTED: 08/25/11 12:49 PM

Minister Duncan: Last chance for the real employers”

St. Maarten – Justice Minister Roland Duncan gives employers who have illegals on their payroll another two to three weeks to come forward and settle their affairs. After that deadline is gone, Duncan said at yesterday’s Council of Ministers press briefing, “we’ll deal with the illegals.”
The committee that evaluated 2,588 application for a residence permit under the Brooks Tower Accord found that a large majority of 1,610 applicants had entered the name of a bogus employer on their application form. “That leaves around 900 applications in the positive area,” Duncan said, adding that among those 900 there are still some fraudulent cases that will be dealt with by the prosecutor’s office.
The minister said that of the category 1 applicants (immigrants who arrived before 2002), 207 applications were clean and ready, while some others are still incomplete.
“But we found a major problem in category 1 and 2 (immigrants who arrived between 2002 and 2005),” Duncan said. “Many of them turned out to have bogus employers. Their real employer refused, so these applicants found people or companies to give guarantees for a fee.”
The committee that examined the applications found some “employers” with a remarkably high number of employees. On further examination these employers turned out to be no more than small offices with hardly any economic activity, let alone a large work force.
Duncan addressed the concern the St. Maarten Hospitality and trade association expressed earlier this week. “The problem with the BTA is that the real employers did not show up, they did not take their responsibility. It is very nice to say, oh, those poor illegals have to be given legal status, but employers have to step up to the plate, and live up to their responsibilities. It is totally incomprehensible and unacceptable for any employer, and that includes government, to employ illegals. The SHTA knows through its membership which companies are employing illegals. Well here is your chance to deal with it.”
Duncan said that 325 application in category 1, and 94 in category 2 were problematic. The 894 of category 3 (those who arrived after 2005) do not come into consideration anyway, though there were plenty of applications.
Duncan said that he will get in touch with Labor Minister Cornelius de Weever to propose “one very last solution.”
“We recognize that we have at least 1,610 illegals on the island. We’re almost back to the same situation we were in before we started the BTA. We will give the real employers of these people the chance to come forward and deal with the government. They will have to settle work permits, taxes and social premiums. They will either live by the law, or they will be prosecuted by the law.”
Duncan announced that his ministry knows the identity of the bogus employers that surfaces through the work of the BTA-committee. “They will be dealt with,” he said. I guarantee that action will be taken in terms of getting illegals off the island and in terms of legal action against employers. The maximum fine is 100,000 guilders (around $55,000 – ed.).”
The Minister said that he is preparing a change to the ordinance for admission and expulsion that will make violations of the ordinance punishable by an administrative fee.”This way we don’t have to go to court and the fines will be immediately collectible. That will speed up actions against people who break the law.”

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