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Immigration, Custom officials to get powers to fine illegal migrants

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Immigration and Customs officials in the British Virgin Islands will soon have powers to fine illegal immigrants without having to go through the territory’s court systems.

This was revealed by Governor August Jaspert while delivering the Speech from the Throne in the House of Assembly on Thursday.

He said: “Our government will seek to amend the Immigration & Passport Act to ensure that the Immigration department, as a front-line border agency, has the requisite power to charge compound fees on persons who enter the country illegally without having to take them to court.”

“This frees up the court system from dealing with smaller cases and allows the Immigration department to expedite issues while sending a strong message for those attempting to enter illegally,” he added.

Revision of Immigration and Passport Act needed

Governor Jaspert also said a general revision of the Immigration & Passport Act (Cap 130) will be conducted to bring the legislation in line with the international best practices.

This measure is expected to also assist with ensuring that the Act is in keeping with the transformation plan in store for the Immigration department.

Longer stays for investors

Governor Jaspert further said that amendments to the Act will be coming to facilitate the necessary adjustments to the Immigration policy to allow for a longer stay for investors.

This amendment is to allow the territory to attract more business opportunities from these potential investors.

$6.4M border management system to be enforced

In addition, the governor also revealed that the new Immigration border management system, which was approved by Cabinet to be purchased for $6.4 million in 2019, will be enforced shortly.

While not giving a specific date for the enforcement, the governor said a number of the existing systems within the department will be transformed into online systems to make the department more efficient and effective.

During a sitting in the House of Assembly in March this year, Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley revealed a few key features of the system.

He said the border management system will see the introduction and reintroduction, in some cases, of passport-scanning upon entry at all ports, e-visas, and proper people tracking.

 

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12 Comments

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  1. Police says:

    Customs, Naaaa…Don’t see the logic.. Immigration, yes,, makes sense…All those people who are presently working with no work permit or who permits expired,, It will be nice if you give immigration a unit to go around checking work places.. These people are working with no authorization and BVI Landers who need work is at home….Not right.

    Like 15
    Dislike 4
    • @police says:

      As an expat I agree with you !
      We are all supposed to carry our work permit cards and we should be regularly checked by officers.

      Like 3
      Dislike 1
    • Doh says:

      Immigration already does that. Spot inspections of businesses is regularly performed to ensure all workers have permits.

    • Tammy says:

      @Police. The immigration already have a unit that does the checks you are talking about. You should know that. Yuh too f malicious.

    • @Police says:

      I agree, they also need to check that persons are working for the employer and in the position that’s stated on their work permit card. They also need to fine employers who hire persons without a work permit or persons holding a work permit for another employer.

  2. really says:

    $6.4 million

    I hope that includes radar system…

  3. Resident says:

    Is that consistent with the Constitution?

    Like 1
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  4. E. Leonard says:

    The Governor says, “ This frees up the court system from dealing with smaller cases and allows the Immigration Department to expedite issues while sending a strong message to those attempting to enter illegally,” Governor Jaspert explained.“ This change may indeed free up the court to deal with bigger cases, expediting the adjudicating of cases. Justice delayed is justice denied. Justice should be perceived as being fair, just and reasonable. Undoubtedly, the Immigration Department may be fair and reasonable in equally and impartially imposing fines. However, how will the alleged violators, as well as others, view the process?

    In my view, there should be an independent third party reviewing the cases and administering fines as deemed necessary. Assume that this proposal is consistent with the spirit and intent of the constitution. The VI celebrates having the rule of law. Does this proposed action chip away at this image? The Immigration Department apprehend violators and will also impose the fines.

    Is this a case of judge, jury and executioner? Is illegal entry a misdemeanor or felony? Will the alleged offenders be allowed to have legal representation? If they don’t have the resources to afford an attorney, will government provide one free of charge to them? Will they be able to appeal? Can they request public trial by a judge/magistrate/jury? Is a special court about to adjudicate Immigration, labour and other related issues needed? Moreover, surveillance of the borders should be enhanced and sustained to deter illegal entry. Currently, the borders are porous, inviting attempts to encroach on the territorial sea limit. How is encroaching on exclusive economic zone handle?

  5. NEXUS says:

    THIS DIES DIES NOR HAVE ANY TGING DIRECTLT WITH THE CONSTUIRUIN IT IS THE LAW PEOPLE THE BVI IS WAKING UP SO EXPATS DO THE RIGHT THING OR ELSE YOU ALL WILL BE TURNED BACK

  6. Doh says:

    So a department which has previously be known to include officials who have shown tendencies towards corruption are now allowed to assess fines? Yikes.

    Imagine the scenario, hey illegal entry person, I’m going to fine you on the spot $1000. But you can pay me $500 now and still get in. Sound incredible? Not really. I’ve personally watched an immigration demand a bribe to allow a dog to enter without vet certification.

    This only gives them more opportunity to commit acts like this.

    But hey it’s the BVI

    Carry on

    Like 6
    Dislike 1
  7. Norris Turnbull says:

    @Doh.. Bring your proof of the immigration taking a bribe. I challenge you today.

  8. Norris Turnbull says:

    There should still be an option to prosecute.

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