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TCI leading; seeking British approval for border security modernization through CARICOM

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#Providenciales, November 20, 2018 – Turks and Caicos – Two significant signing sessions signal two giant steps for the Turks and Caicos Islands in activating the newest security measure in border control.  Advanced Passenger Information System, better known as APIS is cutting edge and already over 87 million passengers worldwide have been processed using the system which aims to thwart travel by terrorists.

Now, the Turks and Caicos Islands with legislation enacted in 2017 and consultation and training started in 2018 is well positioned to embrace one of the most advanced border control security systems in the world, according to the country’s Deputy Premier, Hon Sean Astwood.

“The training workshop included the Police, Immigration Department, Airports Authority, Computer Department, Customs, Maritime and Ports Authority.  External partners that have been consulted or participated in training included marine operators, cruise lines, airlines, shipping companies and freight forwarders.”

The workshops were facilitated by the Joint Regional Communication Center (JRCC) based in Barbados; the regional manager supports developing the right environment for APIS and it charts the roadmap to instituting the best international practices and engendering stakeholder synergy.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s fact sheet on APIS says it is “A new pre-departure Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) requirement allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to review passenger information prior to boarding for commercial flights arriving into or departing from the United States and for commercial vessels destined for or departing the United States.”

On Monday, Turks and Caicos Border Control Minister, Deputy Premier Sean Astwood announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the TCI and the United Kingdom which will permit information exchange with CARICOM, which as a group is agreed to sign onto APIS.

“With the signing of this MOU, the United Kingdom Government formally grants consent to the TCI for the sharing of intelligence among Member States of the Caribbean Community.  This morning, I am proud again to state that the signing of this memorandum is a significant and important step to achieving and realizing the full implementation in the APIS in the Turks and Caicos Islands and by extension, improved security for our region.”

The DP explained that APIS, essentially allows Border Control to focus on more high risk passengers and will actually speed up border security processing for low risk travellers.

It was in May 2017 that Deputy Premier Astwood signed the first commitment of the Turks and Caicos to APIS; it was a pioneering step for Caribbean region OTs.

“…making the Turks and Caicos Islands the first CARICOM Associate Member country amongst the six British Overseas Territories to sign onto the Advanced Passenger Information System, the signing marked an historic occasion as the Turks and Caicos embarked upon a path of modernizing our boarder security regime through the cooperation between the United States of America and Caribbean counterparts.”

DP Sean Astwood flanked by the Governor, Premier and officials representing the Royal Turks and Caicos Police, Customs and Immigration Departments expects APIS to add to increased hospitality at the airports in particular.

“This would add value to the processing of our tourists and allow us to maximize our staff at the airport in particular and improve guest experience,” said the Deputy Premier who also explained that APIS would build an invisible but tangible information bridge between border control agencies namely: Immigration, Customs, Police, Agriculture and Health and Safety making processing smarter and faster.

“Different agencies frequently operate their own automated systems for passenger processing without any sharing of information.  This strict division of responsibility between the agencies means that passenger processing is often unnecessarily prolonged.  APIS will bridge and consolidate critical information that can be shared between agencies.”

At the Office of the Premier in Providenciales, the MOU was signed by His Excellency, Dr. John Freeman who is the UK appointed Governor and Premier of the islands, Hon Sharlene Robinson.

 

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Multi-Agency Immigration Operations Across Providenciales

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#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – Law enforcement officers from across the Turks and Caicos Islands have been active together across Providenciales again this week, targeting unlawful migrants. Joint teams of Officers from Immigration Enforcement Unit and Intelligence and Forgery Units and the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have undertaken intelligence-led road checks and operations to businesses across the island.

Marines from the Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment have also been deployed to coastlines across Providenciales as part of multi-agency effort to tackle illegal migration to the Turks and Caicos Islands.       

The Marines, who were supported by Officers from Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, conducted surveillance and checking of persons and vehicles in the area.

Speaking from North West Point, the Regiment’s Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. Ennis Grant, said, “The Turks and Caicos Islands Regiment has deployed to lead coastal patrols where intelligence tells us illegal migrants are likely to try to enter the Turks and Caicos Islands.  Working in partnership with agencies, including the Marine Branch and operational units of Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, and Immigration Taskforce, means unlawful migrants are far less likely to be able to enter our Islands undetected.”

The multi-agency activity has been coordinated and overseen by Immigration Compliance and Enforcement Unit Manager Tito Forbes, who said, “This is not a one-off exercise. Tackling illegal migration is a key priority across all agencies and joint operations are repeated regularly.  The public will see Officers out in their communities frequently and we are grateful for their cooperation”.

The Minister of Immigration and Border Services, Hon. Arlington Musgrove, said, “We know the community is concerned about the threat of illegal migration, so this should reassure residents that this is something we take extremely seriously.  Unlawful migrants should take note – agencies across TCI are out patrolling our communities. I repeat that If you should not be in TCI you should leave, or risk being detained and repatriated”.

The Acting Governor, H.E. Anya Williams added, “As we continue to focus on National Security as one of our strategic priorities, we are implementing a joined up approach across government between our Joint Law Enforcement Agencies:  the Police, Immigration and the TCI Regiment to ensure that our borders are protected and that illegal migration is addressed both off and onshore by carrying out various enforcement activities at businesses and in the community.  I commend our officers on the work that they are doing and wish them much success as we strive to improve and further expand our law enforcement activities.”

Businesses are reminded that employing an illegal worker is a criminal offence, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 or to a term of imprisonment of two years, or both.  Members of the public with information about illegal migration or illegal working are encouraged to contact CrimeStoppers, which can be done completely anonymously, on 1-800-8477.

Press Release

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Development Agreement with Carnival Cruise Line Signed

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#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – After twenty-one months, the Grand Turk Cruise Center will receive cruise ships at its facility starting in early December 2021, which is welcomed news to the inhabitants of the island of Grand Turk who have experienced prolonged economic inactivity in the cruise sector, which employs some 30% of the resident population and supports small businesses and entrepreneurs.

Additionally, the Government of the Turks and Caicos, under the leadership of the Honourable Premier C. Washington Misick, on Wednesday, 13th October 2021 signed an agreement with Carnival Corporation, highlighted by a $25 million new investment in the Grand Turk Cruise Center. This investment will include the extension of the dock facility to accommodate larger ships and improvements to the reception facilities.

The Government – being acutely aware of the plight of taxi and ground transportation operators, shore excursions,  restaurants and bars, local craft and souvenir shops, jewelers and many more businesses, all of whom benefit from the cruise sector either directly or indirectly – expressed its commitment to prepare the sector for an imminent reopening. This agreement, including the investment in the cruise center, follows the Government’s efforts to accelerate negotiations that began when Hon. Premier Misick came into office in February 2021, at a time that marked approximately one year since the pause of cruise tourism arrivals to Grand Turk.

Since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, many economies of the world have been thrown into a state of flux as forced lockdowns saw economies dwindle.  Among the many sectors, the travel industry worldwide and the cruise tourism industry more specifically were disproportionately affected.  However, with wider acceptance of a vaccine, the cruise industry foresees a rebound of the sector.

The cruise sector is the private sector’s lifeblood of Grand Turk. It is estimated that in March 2020 when the cruise port closed, over 1,450 persons were employed in cruise tourism with employee wage income totaling over $26.8 million per annum. The sector was on a growth trajectory with direct cruise tourism expenditure expected to surpass $86.5 million and estimated passenger and crew arrivals to Grand Turk expecting to exceed 1.2 million annually.

The halt of the sector was a major negative economic impact for Turks and Caicos, and news of the reopening is a significant positive development to aid the recovery of tourism and the larger economy.  As the cruise industry resumes operations in Grand Turk, the Government of Turks and Caicos is focused on working with the community to deliver an exceptional overall experience for cruise guests, and ensure the safety and security of both visitors and residents in Grand Turk.

“As part of our overall restart efforts, we are very excited to be returning to Turks and Caicos later this year, and to once again be able to treat our guests to the beauty and wonder surrounding our home in Grand Turk,” said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We continue to be grateful for our long-standing partnership with Turks and Caicos, and look forward to working together on the expansion of the Grand Turk Cruise Center, which will bring more guests to one of our most popular destinations while providing ongoing positive economic impact to the people of Turks and Caicos and the communities in which they live.”

Hon. Premier Misick added: “As a community, we welcome the long-awaited resumption of cruising in Turks and Caicos, and we are delighted to be working closely with Carnival Corporation to continue to invest in the future of the Grand Turk Cruise Center. We look forward to long-lasting strategic alliances and joint initiatives with partners that will foster the economic growth of the Turks and Caicos Islands, creating opportunities for households across the country, making it possible for individual workers and entrepreneurs to earn more, and to achieve a higher standard of living and where businesses thrive and grow.”

 

Release: Office of the Premier

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Turks and Caicos Delegation visits Puerto Rico Haino Port in DR

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#TurksandCaicos, October 22, 2021 – The Minister of Immigration and Border Services Hon. Arlington Musgrove and Minister of Home Affairs Hon. Otis Morris, along with Ports Authority Chairman, Urban Francis and officials from their ministries, including the Acting Deputy Permanent Secretary Chawa Williams, Head of Secretariat Jenika Laporte, Director of Ports Delton Jones, and Director of EMS, Garvin Thomas returned from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on the 17th of October 2021, following meetings with management and staff of Puerto Rio Haino (HIT) focusing on trade and ports development opportunities and prospects.

Puerto Rio Haino is a very successful twenty (20) years old port concession that facilitates global trade with the Dominican Republic. HIT is very keen to share its experience with ports in the Caribbean through port operations, collaboration and trade development, capitalizing on its comparative advantage and scale.

HIT’s strategic objectives are consistent with the government’s desire to transform the TCI’s ports and diversify trade to reduce the cost of living and doing business in the TCI.

Reflecting on the outcomes of the meetings with HIT, Hon. Musgrove said “I am pleased with the outcome of the various meetings with the team from the HIT. The information received will undoubtedly add value to the TCI’s position in the wake of our Ports redevelopment project, and plans by my Government to diversify our Trade Sector. We are grateful to have been accommodated and anticipate fostering of an ongoing relationship of mutual exchange of information, best practices and assistance.”

Hon Morris added, “I am grateful for the opportunity to have accompanied the Minister to these meetings and particularly realizing the relevance of the Ports redevelopment and its importance in cross Border Trade, and I am eager to be a part of the decisions to positively impact the lives of our people.”

Ports Authority Chairman Francis elaborated “I am thankful to both Hon. Musgrove and Hon. Morris for the opportunity to participate in these meetings. The knowledge will be helpful not only in our redevelopment project but also in our Port Security and Safety enhancement plans, and our capacity building initiatives among staff.”

Areas discussed during the visit to HIT included: staff development in areas such as port security and safety, port container scanner, port digitalization and customs single window, port certification and adoption of global standards, port dredging and environmental issues and trade development opportunities focusing on developing new source markets for the TCI to take advantage of the manufacturing sector in the Dominican Republic and its global trade volumes and links which could drive down freight rates.

Hon. Musgrove observed that the discussions during the visit highlighted a number of areas for possible collaboration between the HIT and the TCI. He proposed the formation of a Joint Working Group of officials from the TCI and HIT to prioritize areas for collaboration and develop a work plan to appraise these opportunities.

The visit also afforded the TCI delegation the opportunity to observe the operations of Puerto Rio Haino.

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