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National Security Minister in Jamaica, Dr Horace Chang. (Photo via CMC)

Jamaica defends deporting Haitian ‘caregivers’

June 27, 2024

KINGSTON, Jamaica, CMC –  The Andrew Holness led administration has defended its decision to send home 12 of the 16 Haitians who arrived on the island as caregivers to 59 disabled orphans who were allowed to enter Jamaica in March as part of a humanitarian effort led by the international charity organisation Mustard Seed Communities.

The Haitians were returned at midnight on Tuesday.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer,  National Security Minister  Dr Horace Chang on Wednesday said they were sent home based on security concerns and indications that there was no truth to the claim that they were caregivers for the orphans.

According to Chang, while the Government had no hesitation to allow the orphans and the caregivers into the island based on the crisis in Haiti.

He said the authorities soon found out that only two were really caregiver.

“When we realised that 14 of the so-called caregivers were here staying in breach of their conditions, they were absconding, and in fact one… who seems to be a troublemaker, had gotten a car from somebody…and was driving around making mischief and taking the people out — he is the one believed to have taken the 14-year-old child out of Kingston Public Hospital with a friend of his — the police are looking for him,” said Chang in reference to one of the orphans who has not been seen since he was released from the Corporate Area health facility where he had been taken for treatment.

“They [the Haitian caregivers] then became abusive to the people at Jacob’s Ladder [where the orphans are being housed], misbehaving, and when the police went there they were hostile to the police. So we decided, through immigration, that they were in breach of their conditions, they came under false pretence and we were going to deport them, so we deported them,” Chang said.

The National Security Minister told the Jamaica Observer that the “troublemaker”, and another of the so-called caregivers, have not yet been found. 

However, two other Haitians, who had been previously ordered deported and were in detention, were included in the group shipped out at midnight Tuesday.

“The people who came here were illegal migrants in our country and I have the law behind me to send them back where they came from, and they were all of questionable character,” said Chang who added that he is now considering putting a prohibition order on Susie Krabacher, the founder of HaitiChildren, who organised the mission to take the Haitian orphans here. 

“We have refused her landing here three times and we are considering putting a prohibition order. The entire scheme was a dishonest scheme, and if it was not for the integrity, strength and character of the Mustard Seed Communities, as a respected international Catholic charity, they would have drawn the country through the mud. The private sector and the Government will help Mustard Seed to manage, but we have sent home these people who are troublemakers,” said Chang.

He said the police are tracking an address in the Corporate Are, and a school in Ocho Rios, in the northern parish of St Ann, as the search for the two missing so-called caregivers continues.

He was responding to reports  that the situation involving the 10 deported caregivers escalated drastically on Tuesday as they were confined to a room “all weekend” into Tuesday night. 

The Jamaica Observer article says a bus drove up onto the Jacob’s Ladder compound along with the police, which signalled the end of the road for the so-called caregivers.

“They ordered the caregivers to get on the bus to go to ( the eastern parish of) Portland. The lawyer called the police and they would not disclose the location to her, only that they would be brought to a facility in Portland,” a source told the Jamaica Observer .

According to the source, even after submitting asylum claims on behalf of the 12 caregivers, human rights lawyer Malene Alleyne failed in a bid to prevent local authorities from sending them back to Haiti.

Alleyne, who is representing the group that brought the children in from Haiti, described the situation as an unprecedented scale of cruelty to humanity in Jamaica.

Meanwhile -Operators of HaitiChildren have insisted that the caregivers were given permission to leave the compound each time and were never missing. They claim that the caregivers worked on a shift system and would seek permission each time to leave the compound and would always return.

On Wednesday, Krabacher rejected the allegation that Haitian gangsters were among the caregivers who came to Jamaica.

Krabacher told the Jamaica Observer that it was the Jamaican authorities who have made them look like criminals.

“Most of them worked with us for more than 10 years. One of the deportees was a nurse who has worked with us for 17 years. They thought they were welcome. They were only doing their jobs,” said Krabacher.

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