The issue of border security was in the spotlight this morning, as National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds hosted a media briefing to discuss a video which has been circulating online, purporting to be dozens of Venezuelan nationals, entering TT shores illegally.
However, it turned out that the incident did not occur in TT and did not involve Venezuelans. Instead, it was a shipload of nationals from the Dominican Republic, illegally entering Puerto Rico.
Hinds said the video caused members of his security team, inclusive of the Commissioner of Police and the Chief of Defence Staff to receive numerous calls of trauma from citizens who saw the video.
This he said posed a problem. But he said “there is a lot of ignorance, misunderstanding, misinformation and malicious intervention, sometimes its political agenda that all contributes to the state of affairs.”
Hinds said within the last few days, “the police supported by international arrangements in terms of intelligence, would have also unearthed serious arms and ammunition and other implements at our legal ports of entry and that too ties in to our border security… This is another major problem, one he said that is not new to us, as TT has been grappling with this for decades.
He said the issue of border security is not an easy one, as he pointed out that even the United States – a superpower, has 600,000 illegal immigrants in the Florida state alone.
The US are also having an ongoing challenge by people coming in from the Mexican border by creative means.
He said for TT, “it is a question of our geographic circumstances and a question of our resources, a question of our intellect and our professionals, our planning and our constant reassessing of what we have and what we need to do, to stay on top of these burdensome challenges that eventually lead to the pain and trauma that you the citizens would feel when the guns come into your neighbourhood…or when women are taken out of Trinidad for human trafficking…”
Hinds said TT had an OPV program which was scrapped by a previous government, for reasons best known to themselves.
However, he revealed that the Prime Minister has been able to negotiate with the Australian government and to order with their help, two cape class vessels, which are expected some time soon.
These will add to the fleet of vessels already acquired by the Coast Guard, to beef up the security on the borders.
Hinds said their are also plans to launch maritime patrols by the TTPS via its recently re-instituted police maritime branch, along with the use of drones.