#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos – March 17, 2018 – The hunt for illegal migrants in the Turks and Caicos continued into Friday night and Saturday in a multi-agency effort named, #OperationGuardian.
“Operation Guardian, as was mentioned by the Deputy (Police) Commissioner, has yielded tremendous success… it has really began to shift the tide in how we go about our enforcement activities, how we pool our resources and yield the best results. For further mention, it is not only focused on the landing of sloops, but operation Guardian also deals with the visits to job sites and inspections in the communities as well and our ability to detect and apprehend and eventually repatriate illegal persons living and working in the Turks and Caicos Islands,” explained Deputy Premier and Minister of Border Control, #SeanAstwood.
The re-booted operation is led by the Immigration Department of the Ministry of Border Control and invites support from its Labour Department arm, from the Physical Planning Department and as was explained in an emergency Friday afternoon press conference held at the Office of the Premier, has enjoyed US Coast Guard and private citizens help.
“Sometime last year in response to the spate of violent crimes that was going on last year, there was a group of local businessmen that reached out to the Government and offered assistance in a financial way. My Ministry along with the Police Department along with the Governor has been actively engaging in those discussions over the past number of months… the Police Department are benefitting from their efforts as well as my ministry, the first thing we are receiving out of that fund is a van for the Task Force use that will be day to day operation of things. We want to thank them publically as well. That is going to be an ongoing and continuous support… “
Border Control Minister and Deputy Premier, Astwood explained that 113 Haitians had been rounded up in the past month; 84 of the individuals have been repatriated and 56 others are held at the detention center on South Dock road, awaiting deportation.
“There has been additional staff hired already and we will be increasing the number of staff for the Task Force, just yesterday there was a release from the Deputy Governor’s Office about the availability of new job vacancies for new immigration officers and that is mainly focused on directing to the Task Force.”
The Government’s announcement of recruitment to bolster the Task Force on the local level intimates that the patrols and manhunts are demanding on the current team; the Minister cautioned the public about making sketchy reports which waste valuable time and energy.
“The public should be mindful about making unconfirmed statements about sloop landings because what it does then is it re-directs our resources into areas and then obviously hinders our operations process as well. While we appreciate and welcome the information that we are getting and that we are acting on is credible.
Overnight, more illegal migrants were taken into custody, however the count is unknown. It is believed some of the migrants rounded-up are not among the new illegal Haitians who are believed to have entered Providenciales on five different boats which made land fall between March 9-16; a mere seven day span.