(CMR) Twenty-nine Haitians who arrived in Jamaica illegally on 10 July will be deported back to their homeland after being charged with illegal entry and fined. The 29 were part of a group of 37; the other eight persons are children.
According to local reports, the 29 adults, 24 men and five women, appeared in the Portland Parish Court on Tuesday, 18 July, where they were fined $7,000 or three days of hard labor each.
The Government has since revealed that none of the migrants applied for asylum. The Jamaican authorities are now making arrangements for the group to be transported back to Haiti.
The decision to deport these citizens has created a divide among Jamaicans on social media, with some people agreeing that they should be deported while others are questioning the Government's compassion for their neighbors.
Some have argued that the Jamaican Government is not in a position financially to allow the Haitians to stay in Jamaica, adding that allowing them to stay would see crime and violence getting worse.
However, some Jamaicans believe that being a part of the Caribbean Community, the Haitians should be allowed to stay.
Some have called into question Prime Minister's Andrew Holness call for other countries to offer support to Haiti as it goes through turbulent times.
One person wrote, “So sorry for our Haitian relatives. Here we have an opportunity to treat them with kindness, yet our first action is to send them back while our PM is lobbying for help for them from the European countries. How about us lending a helping hand? We know what is happening in their country. Is it so hard to process them (making sure they are not involved in illicit activities)and keep them here for a period until order is restored in their country?”
“Jamaica needs to do (an) act of kindness. There was no need to charge them 'cause we have our own doing the same in other countries trying to seek a better life,” another wrote.
One person who agrees with the deportation of the Haitians said, “I don't agree with the fine; however, these persons could be persons of interest, rapists, murders, cartels, etc…you have to come into any country legally.”
Hundreds of Haitians have been fleeing their homeland as gang violence continues to spiral out of control, with hundreds murdered since the start of the year. Just last month, Jamaica had to cancel consular services in Haiti, after the location where it operated from was attacked.