Minister Wheatley gave that warning on Sunday, September 13, 2020, via a social media forum.
“We have been very, very lenient with persons being in the country, but there are a number of persons who are still in this country illegally. There are a lot of persons who are here without the proper status, without proper time; their times have expired, or they are here as visitors, and they are working. We are asking persons not to do that,” he said.
The Minister added, “Also there are persons who came in for Mary Jane who are working for John Doe and so forth, all those things are illegal, and we are asking persons to desist from those kinds of behaviour,” he added.
Hon. Wheatley said in one week’s time, the aforementioned task force will come into force that will be “set up to flush these people out”.
He continued, “I don’t want to see anybody being affected by this, so I am asking persons, please abide by the current laws that we have. We have been very, very lenient, but we cannot continue to be lenient. We are a country of laws; because of COVID-19 we have been very, very lenient, but we still cannot condone illegal activities in the country."
He pleaded with persons who are smuggling persons to desist from doing so.
"Persons if you know you are here illegally, make your way to Immigration so we can know when you plan to leave. So that’s a fair warning,” Hon. Wheatley stated.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Ian Penn who was also present on the live Zoom forum urged members of the public to not take advantage of the situation and come into the department to straighten out their status.
He mentioned that there are persons who feel like they can do what they please because flights to their home countries are not available at this time because of the pandemic.
“It is your duty to come into Immigration to let us know what your situation is so we could deal with it according to the law. If you are found out there working illegally, or you are here in the country overstaying, there is a penalty. We are putting things afoot to deal with this and stamp it out altogether. It is better that you come in and we deal with you than we have to come out and find you doing these things,” he pointed out.
It always seems impossible until it is done.