U.S. adds more deportees to list By Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
October 26, 2001

UNITED States authorities have supplied the Guyana Government with some 150 more names of would-be deportees to the original list of 141, Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon has reported.

He Wednesday said the U.S. has provided the Guyana Government with a "considerably larger number of names of would-be deportees".

He said these new names will be under the same verification process local authorities are using for the initial 141 provided.

Luncheon told a news conference at the Office of the President that a fairly large number of Guyanese, maybe as many as more than 100, will be deported here from the U.S. "very soon".

As the intense verification process continues, the Government is issuing instructions for travel documents to be prepared for those would-be deportees identified as Guyanese.

This newspaper understands there may be as many as 327 the U.S. wants to deport here. Luncheon said this figure is not improbable.

But Foreign Minister, Mr. Rudy Insanally told the Chronicle Wednesday it is very likely that the new list of names will contain duplications from the first list and would have to be reconciled with that lot.

Guyana's Ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Odeen Ishmael, said Wednesday that the embassy had issued more than 80 certificates for the deportees to the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.

With the Office of the President monitoring the operations, the Government has made some headway in verifying the identities of the initial 141 persons the U.S. wants to deport.

Luncheon noted that the issue of deportees has always been dealt with by the Office of the President which has played a sort of coordinating role in overseeing the responses of the Ministry of Legal Affairs, aided by inputs from the Police and the Immigration services.

The Office of the President took full control of the matter following the reported failure of a number of Government agencies to act expeditiously in transmitting to the Guyana mission in the U.S., information that 33 persons had been cleared for the issue of travel documents. This resulted in the U.S. State Department banning the issue of non-immigrant visas to government officials, government employees and their immediate family.

President Bharrat Jagdeo has blamed some agencies for compounding the deportees controversy with the U.S. saying they "messed up" in getting required information by the deadline set by the U.S.

On September 7, the U.S. Justice Department had warned this action would have been taken if Guyana did not arrange to accept the return of the 141 persons it wanted to deport within 30 days.

This move was prompted by a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting persons convicted of a deportable offence being subjected to prolonged detention after the completion of their sentence.

According to Luncheon, the Guyana Government is seeking to perfect a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. Government to resolve the deportees issue.

He said the Office of the President is confident that mutual interests are being respected in providing travel documents to bona fide Guyanese and in working to ensure that they are not, in any way, disadvantaged by their forced removal from the U.S.

"And in that regard, to perfect a memorandum of understanding between the Government of Guyana and the United States that recognises our mutual concerns in this issue of the deportation," he said.

He pointed out that the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security will be providing some additional inputs into the maintenance of living standards and such like for some of the deportees who seem not to be as fortunate as others in having family structures within which they can fall upon their return.

Luncheon also commented that the impact of the visa ban was intended to target Government officials and Government functionaries in terms of having some stimulus for the administration to act by frustrating its business in North America.

Many Guyanese are worried about the impact the deportees may have on the crime situation here.

Luncheon said these people have committed no crimes in Guyana but have been deported on the basis of the public law in North America.

"Our monitoring is voluntary and there is nothing criminal about what we are going to do and it is not intended to label, highlight or inject any unacceptable stigma to these Guyanese," he said.

"I believe that the U.S. will do everything possible to ensure that these deportees are here before the end of the year," he said.

At the same time, the Government was doing everything possible to get the visa ban lifted, he added.