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Immigration laws in Jamaica to be modernized

KINGSTON, Jamaica – (JIS) Jamaica’s State Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Senator Arthur Williams, has informed that modernisation of the country’s Immigration laws is to be undertaken by the Ministry.

He pointed out that there are two separate statutes relating to immigration control in Jamaica – the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act and the Alien Act – each with widely varying requirements.

Addressing immigration officers at a graduation ceremony last Friday (May 9), at the Medallion Hall Hotel in Kingston, Senator Williams explained that the country needed to review and modernize the legislative provisions.

“We need now, as has been done in Barbados for example, to review and modernize the legislative provisions and to put them into one statute,” he emphasized.

Policy decisions are also required in respect of the modernization of existing legislation dealing with matters such as: the issue of visas; carriers’ liability; obligations of port and airport managers; power to enforce compliance with entry requirements; and refugee and asylum seekers.

Senator Williams pointed out that there has been no major review of the Immigration Restriction (Commonwealth Citizens) Act, which was promulgated on December 27, 1945 and the Aliens Act, which was promulgated on February 28, 1946.

He also noted that other mechanisms to enhance immigration control, such as the development of Standards Operating Procedures, would have to be undertaken.

The State Minister said that in relation to the enforcement of the terms and conditions of stay, which are granted upon entry, that required attention would be dealt with urgently. “Persons are going to be made to understand that they cannot treat our immigration laws with impunity,” he stressed.

Senator Williams also commended the graduates on having successfully completed their programme and urged them to be vigilant in performing their duties.

He explained that their role as immigration officers was critical to the security needs of the country, particularly against terrorist threats.

The immigration officers will be assigned to the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA).

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