Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister EP Chet Greene, has urged residents who may be living in the country illegally, to regularize their status urgently, amid the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Greene’s advice came as the Health Ministry is now preparing to allow members of the public to register for vaccinations, following the inoculation of frontline workers in the past week.
As part of the registration process, residents will be asked to volunteer certain personal information – and that could prove a hindrance to ‘illegal’ residents, who may not have up-to-date documentation or any documentation at all.
Responding to a query from our newsroom on Wednesday, Greene explained just how important it is for the relevant departments to have access to accurate, up-to-date information.
“Interesting question, and this brings us face to face with the call I have been making on persons who are not legally residing in the country to regularize their immigration status. I make the point, ad nauseam, that in order to plan and develop a country, the data must be spot on so that you know you are planning for X number of persons or in the case of a pandemic, we know it is a costly arrangement to manage and we’ve come to the point of vaccination.”
“How many shots do we need to secure? It is important to know how many persons are living in the country if you are going to effectively deal with the issue of inoculation which speaks to the issue of safety and protection”, Greene said.
Greene acknowledged that many persons are living in the country unlawfully, and said they could pose a threat to the rest of the population, without being vaccinated.
Bearing these issues in mind, Greene assured that the Immigration Department is not looking to target anyone for their irregular status, but made it clear that their compliance was vital in steering the country safely out of the pandemic.