Immigration lawyer says gov’ts should do more for US residents who get into trouble

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The government of Antigua & Barbuda and other members states within the Caricom community have been accused of not doing enough to provide for and advise nationals who have violated United States laws.
A US-based Immigration lawyer, Fitzmore Harris, who is also an Antiguan national said, “One of the main functions of the overseas consulates is to protect the rights of their citizens in that particular country, and to that extent I just do not believe that enough is being done to protect the rights of the citizens.
“For example, if you are arrested, you can call this number and they can advise you of what to do. Even prior to your being convicted, monitor what is going on after conviction and something along those lines,” he added.
Harris also called for a common policy with respect to the issuance of travel documents for deportees, and for the region to employ people who have a common understanding of US immigration laws and how the process works.
The attorney was speaking amidst rising tensions in the US, as President Donald Trump prepares to implement orders that will make every illegal immigrant in America subject to deportation.
Since the announcement last week, several influential people, including Antigua & Barbuda’s Ambassador to the United States, Sir Ronald Sanders has asked the government to prepare for a possible influx of deportees and implement re-integration programmes.
Minister of Social Transformation Samantha Marshall also said the prospect of a mass deportation of Antiguan & Barbudan immigrants was indeed a concern for the government.
Harris alleged that in 2004 he and another gentleman presented a comprehensive plan to the administration, outlining how deportation to the island could be handled. However, he said, this was ignored.
“We presented the plan, to the government at the time and we never got a phone call back to indicate whether or not it was successful. So preparing for this thing is not a new issue. It has been put on the table, and the gentleman is still living in Antigua,” the immigration lawyer said.
Harris said regional governments were forewarned and if actions were taken, then there would be no need for “mass hysteria”.

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