SHTA wants structural solution for remaining illegal workers

POSTED: 08/22/11 12:31 PM

GREAT BAY – The St. Maarten Hospitality and trade association SHTA is disappointed about the fact that “several thousand Brooks Tower Accord applications have been denied” while there are no further efforts planned to ensure that these applicants become legalized. The association wants a tripartite meeting to examine the possibilities for a structural solution for this group.
SHTA’s executive director Valya Pantophlet said in a press statement issued this weekend that she agrees that the BTA-process “may not have run as smoothly as it could have, the strenuous circumstances which these undocumented residents chose to undergo to become part of the formal economy, pay taxes and contribute to the development of this country should not be overlooked.”
Pantophlet stated that the BTA-process was a way for undocumented residents to become legal “on an island they have called home for years.” More importantly, Pantophlet added, the BTA was designed to minimize the large illegal sector on the island “and to stem the abuse with regard to labor and taxation. If several thousand people are going to be rejected, then clearly the primary goal of legalizing long term residents was not achieved.”
The SHTA-director also expressed concerns about the fees the island territory has collected. “As we understood, persons were not supposed to have to pay those fees unless there was acceptance and validity by the immigration department. Will those fees be refunded now that there is no validity?”

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