La Casita director: ‘Anti-social cells’ a threat to migrants too

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Andreina Brinceno Ventura-Brown – File photo/Ayanna Kinsale

Director of the La Casita Hispanic Cultural Centre, Andreina Brinceno Ventura-Brown, has voiced concern over National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds’s remarks about the “antisocial” behaviour of Venezuelan migrants, noting the community is also impacted by crime.

Ventura-Brown said the minister’s comments about crime in TT and the conduct of migrants are an indication of a problem within the community that must be addressed with effective solutions.

Hinds speaking at a Rotary Club luncheon last week on crime and immigration issues said there are more than 70,000 Venezuelan migrants in TT. This figure is much higher than estimates of a little over 16,000 migrants given by Government since the 2019 amnesty.

“They (Venezuelans) come with their usual cultures, so we at national security are seeing elements of antisocial and other behaviours inside of that, so that is the issue to deal with as well,” Hinds said.

Ventura-Brown told Newsday on Friday that crime does not discriminate and “unfortunately the noise and actions of criminals have touched the homes of not only locals but also migrants living on the island. It has even touched my house.”

“Minister Hinds knows the true richness of Venezuelan culture by affiliation and his mention of these ‘antisocial cells’, which today represent a threat, exists in all nationalities and communities and we must fight them together,” she said.

She said Hinds’ comments about that there are 70,000 Venezuelans in the country showed a need to expand the registry of migrants, which would allow the TT government to know who they are and what skills they bring to the country.

“I believe an expansion of the migrant registration framework, which took place in 2019, will allow Minister Hinds to have a clear vision of who is in the country, what areas they work in, identification and origin, a real number and new strategies to implement solutions to the problems we all face,” she said.

In the 2019 registration of Venezuelans, 16,523 migrants were granted amnesty and were given permits to work.

In the latest data provided in mid-January by Hinds, 13,000 Venezuelans participated in the last re-registration of 2021, but only 9,000 had received extensions of their work permits. The other 4,000 were under evaluation.

At that time, Hinds announced a new extension of work permits for this year, but to date, the official decree has not yet been issued.

Ventura-Brown said La Casita, based in Arima, is willing to help find solutions to immigration issues affecting migrants. “We want to offer our support to work within the community to help ensure the safety of everyone who lives here.”