Persons engaging in illegal migration are exposing themselves to dangerous situations such as kidnapping, human trafficking and death, warns Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator the Hon. Kamina Johnson Smith.
The Minister was speaking during Wednesday’s (March 12) post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, where she continued to implore Jamaicans to not attempt to enter a country illegally.
She noted that there are a “relatively small number” of Jamaicans who are pursuing unlawful migration by travelling through Mexico, Panama and Belize.
The Minister said that data received from Mexico and Panama and validated by the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) show that 143 Jamaicans were refused entry in Mexico between 2018 and March 31 this year.
“In the case of Panama, for the same period, 2,167 Jamaicans were refused entry and 81 Jamaicans were deported,” she reported.
Minister Johnson Smith said it is unclear whether the data from Panama included persons who attempted to travel to Mexico through the country, since there are no direct flights to Mexico from Jamaica.
Statistics from Belize are still pending validation from PICA.
Minister Johnson Smith said that illegal entry affects the reputation of the Jamaican passport, despite the Government’s efforts to increase its security to better facilitate citizens who want to exercise their right of freedom of movement.
“Decisions like this, they really do fight against the efforts of the Government, and they do affect the reputation of the passport, and the immigration experience of our lawful travellers,” she said.
She noted that the Government continues to consult at different levels with its partners in Belize, Mexico and Panama on the matter.
“We do not want the immigration experience of our lawful travellers to get worse. We want our athletes, entrepreneurs, family members, ordinary Jamaicans exercising their right to travel, to do so without difficulty, in comfort and with dignity, and part of that [requires] our fellow citizens taking sound decisions about travelling lawfully,” Senator Johnson Smith emphasised.