Opinion: Position statement on immigration

POSTED: 06/10/14 11:09 PM

Dear Editor,

Legal immigration and illegal immigration result in a number of challenges which need to be addressed structurally and through clear and transparent policy and legislation. These topics are very current and difficult to address due to the fact that proper structure has been absent for far too long.

There are people who have been on Sint Maarten illegally for a longtime (over 10 years) who could by reason of the amount of time spent on the island actually qualify for naturalization. There are young adults here who because they have come of age are all of a sudden stateless.

There are many complex aspects to this subject matter, as such, Citizen’s for Positive Change advocates the following:

The compilation and implementation of a policy aimed at addressing immigration from here onward. A policy that is fair and reasonable takes family relations into account and provides reference for those applying as to what can be expected. This policy will prescribe which requirements an applicant would have to meet in order to qualify for a (resident, work) permit. Such requirements will include, proof of employment prospects, prearranged housing, minimum income requirements as well as the requirement to have proper health care insurance. Before the application is approved, it will have to be determined who the applicant’s proposed employer is and what guarantee they will provide. The policy will also provide guidelines as to the requirements applicants would have to meet to qualify for possible “naturalization” in the long-term.

This type of system is complex and will need constant control, which is an essential component of implementing any new policy. No immigration system in the world is perfect, however a new policy must be open and transparent; a clear improvement compared to the current system. CPC believes admittance must be regulated by laws and policies rather than by arbitrary decisions by government entities.

Loopholes and abuse of the system must be dealt with quickly, effectively and humanely. Proper and regular controls will be needed to enforce the new policy. This is a job for the relevant authorities; police, immigration, customs, Coast Guard etc. The community in general must also heed its responsibilities. In order for Sint Maarten to successfully reduce illegal immigration, the hiring of undocumented immigrants must be discouraged and penalized. Naturally, illegal immigration concerns cannot be resolved without cooperation between the Dutch and French side authorities.

As for dealing with the “old” issues, Citizen’s for Positive Change recommends the setting up of a committee of experts to deal with these on a case by case basis. This committee can then take special circumstances into account and decide whether a particular case validates residency or expulsion.

From a business point of view: once a clear and transparent policy is implemented, businesses should be able to get work and residence permits processed in a quicker turnaround time and with much less hassle. Part of the process, especially for permit extensions, should be done on-line to avoid wasting time standing in long lines and unnecessary bureaucracy.

Authorities, relevant Government entities need to gain insight into who is coming into St Maarten and where they are staying, how they are arriving etc. The situation can only be effectively brought under control through the implementation of measures to halt the further increase of undocumented residents.

The key to a solution is to separate past and future policy.  When elected to Parliament CPC will implement immigration policies which complement each other rather than to compile one extensive policy aimed at addressing every possible contingency or rectifying every past error.

On our website (positivechangesxm.com) we have outlined our thoughts on a number of issues and how we intend to address them if given the mandate by the electorate.

CPC encourages citizens to contribute to the process by submitting their ideas so that those can be incorporated in a National Plan on a road towards creating Positive Change on St. Maarten. Like us on Facebook, inbox or email us, we would love to hear from you.


Citizens for Positive Change (CPC)


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