The recent mission to Haiti by Governor Ric Todd, who was accompanied by immigration and border control minister Don-Hue Gardiner and permanent secretary of immigration and border Clara Gardiner, seems to have raised more questions than answers.
This is the latest in a series of trips to Haiti by TCI officials. The primary concern between Haiti and the TCI stems from the ongoing flow of illegal immigrants trying to join the already substantial Haitian population of the TCI. Year to date in 2013 over 800 illegal immigrants have been repatriated to Haiti at a cost that exceeds $1,300 per person.
This is the cost reported by Todd and it has raised one of the questions. Since the average length of stay in the TCI for an illegal immigrant is less than one week and the one-way air fare to Haiti is currently $200, up from almost half that amount, it is unclear where the additional costs per migrant are being expended.
While the TCI mission was in Haiti, another illegal sloop landed but was quickly detected after landing. Most of the illegals escaped but some were apprehended. This landing has raised the question of the effectiveness of the TCI radar unit and marine interceptors.
A temporary lull in illegal migration was experienced when a British warship was based near the eastern shores of Haiti around midyear.
Todd has said that a memorandum of understanding (MOU) will be published on the subject of illegal immigration. However, it appears that Haitian authorities will not take any direct action as President Michel Martelly has said he believes the number of Haitians leaving their country will slow only as the Haitian economy improves.
It also appears that a previously unannounced trade mission was in Haiti in recent days with members of the Tourist Board and led it seems by Akierra Missick who is the current minister of education not trade. It appears Missick and others were attempting to negotiate yet another MOU that could result in a free trade agreement under which goods would move duty free between the two countries.
Chamber of Commerce president EJ Saunders was also part of the trade mission. Saunders heads the Digicel phone operation in the TCI.
It is not clear what the TCI will export to Haiti and what Haiti will send to the TCI.