The arrival of the IRMs is one of the monthly returns originally scheduled to arrive in the country on March 26, 2020. However, the Government negotiated a further date to prepare for the IRMs’ arrival under measures imposed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
In keeping with the Jamaican Constitution and the Jamaica Nationality Act, Jamaica is duty-bound to accept IRMs. The Government acknowledges the long-standing arrangement with the United States Department of Homeland Security for the repatriation of Jamaicans who do not have the legal right to remain in the United States.
Minister of National Security, Dr. Horace Chang says the Government is committed to ensuring respect for human rights and the elimination of discrimination under all circumstances. He added that “there will be controlled re-entry while observing COVID-19 prevention protocols.”
Upon arrival, Deportees will be quarantined for two weeks in a secure Government facility, where they will be processed by the relevant authorities. The Ministry of Health and Wellness (MOHW) recently conducted sensitization sessions with staff at the facility; detailing potential health risks of COVID-19 and how to detect and report signs of the virus.
While under quarantine, IRMs will be screened twice daily by medical officers assigned by the MOHW. At the end of the quarantine period, deportees who are cleared by health officials will be released to family members.
The Government understands the public’s concern regarding the repatriation of fellow Jamaicans to the country during this time. However, we continue to be guided by our health officials and security forces to uphold best practices during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The People’s National Party had urged the Government of Jamaica to re-engage the United States authorities to postpone the deportation of Jamaicans until our health authorities have confirmed that it is safe and prudent to reopen the island’s borders.
The party asked the government explain to the US that the closure of our borders is to protect our citizens against the spread of this deadly virus, and that it is only after the borders are re-opened that there can be a restoration of the normal process of responsible deportation.
The party further said that 60 or more Jamaicans are slated to be deported without any checks to ascertain their health status from the United States, which has been ravaged by COVID-19 and with some 70 per cent of victims being persons of African descent. This would pose a real and present danger, to our country.
“Even if pressure has been exerted upon our Government to give in, it is the Government’s sacred duty to make a compelling case that protects our country, because of the threat COVID-19 poses to the lives of the Jamaican people. Anyone traveling abroad who has not been screened and cleared of the infection poses a direct threat to the public health of the Jamaican people at this time,” the PNP Shadow Minister of Information Julian Robinson said.
“Our health system is already in danger of being stretched beyond its capacity, and our quarantine arrangements are not sufficiently robust and efficient. In these circumstances, Jamaica cannot open our borders to deportees, as if these were normal times,” Mr. Robinson said.
Mr. Robinson said the Opposition has been cooperative and constructive in its dealings with the Government to help Jamaica overcome this crisis, but we strongly disagree with making this dangerous exception to the agreed national policy of border closure.
He concluded – “While the Opposition will continue to support the measures now in place in the national effort against COVID-19, we are firm and unequivocal that in this instance the Government must uphold Jamaica’s sovereignty and decline to allow deportations. We demand that they stand up for our national health imperatives to protect the society from this critical risk.”
- Countries: Jamaica
- DIASPORA | Julius Garvey to spotlight Caribbean diaspora contribution to US
- JAMAICA | Opposition legislator Anthony Hylton condemns US blockade against Cuba
- CHINA takes parting shot at ‘lying and cheating’ Pompeo
- UNITED STATES | Kamala Harris sworn in as US vice president, breaking gender and racial barriers.
- CHINA imposes fresh sanctions on US officials over Hong Kong and Taiwan