The Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) is urging the government to immediately re-engage United States authorities to postpone the deportation of Jamaicans until the island’s health authorities have confirmed that it is safe and prudent to reopen the country’s borders.
The call was made in the form of a press release under the signature of PNP shadow spokesman on information Julian Robinson.
The release said that Prime Minister Andrew Holness must explain to the US that the closure of the country’s borders is to protect citizens against the spread of this deadly coronavirus and that it is only after the borders are re-opened that there can be a restoration of the normal process of responsible deportation.
Robinson said further that the 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.
“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 travelling 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,” Robinson said.
‘Jamaica cannot open our borders to deportees, as if these were normal times.’—Julian Robinson
“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,” Robinson said.
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.”