Opinion: DeportationPOSTED: 06/28/11 12:24 PM
That the Court in First Instance ruled in favor of Justice Minister Duncan in the case of a man who was deported to the Dominican Republic comes as no surprise. After all, the 21-year-old had filed a first-time application for a Brooks Tower Accord permit almost a year after the deadline had passed. End of story? Not quite.
According to attorney Mr. Denicio Brison, his client Pascal Beltran Perez is not the only one who filed a first-time application way after the deadline. Money changed hands, too. All this happened at the BTA intake bureau, and all this happened while there was no policy to accept these applications.
And what’s more, many of these Johnny-come-lately first-time applicants were then sent on their way to the Labor Department for their work permit. Again, money changed hands.
According to Brison there are now quite some immigrants on the island with a worthless BTA-application, and a valid work permit.
The Justice Ministry knows who these people are, where they live and what their passport number is. Like Perez, they are all in a position that screams deportation.
How did this mess come about? Justice Minister Duncan has always been clear about the way he wished to handle the Brooks Tower procedure. Everybody knew that until December 30 of last year, only applications for an extension of the temporary permit would be accepted.
It is clear that employees at the intake bureau devised their own policy, behind the Minister’s back. This does not mean that the Minister is not responsible for what happened, but if this is the situation, then his staff put Duncan in a truly awkward position.
This makes us wonder about the outcome of the BTA-investigation. When that case goes to trial we will probably learn more about how immigrants were fleeced by civil servants, making them believe that, deadline or no deadline, they could still file a first-time application. Just bring in the money, no questions asked.
An unknown number of immigrants has been conned this way, though one has to realize that these people already had overstayed their welcome by almost a year. And it is not unreasonable to assume that some of these applicants came to the island especially for a shot at a residence permit.
So what are the consequences of the court ruling against Mr. Beltran Perez? In theory, the Justice Ministry could gear up for a massive deportation action, but we suspect that, given the fact that quite some of these BTA-applicants obtained a legal work permit, there is a legal mess to untangle before the next deportation becomes a reality.