[Trinidad Express] – Trinidad is no bed of roses. This, according to a Guyanese vendor, who has been operating a stall in Port of Spain for the last eight years.
Guyanese nationals make up the largest number of illegal immigrants in this country, the Ministry of National Security said on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Sunday Express under condition of anonymity, the woman, who sells soft drinks and snacks, said she came to Trinidad in pursuit of a better life.
“Things are hard,” the 47-year-old woman said. “People come here looking for better; people leave their homes and their families to come and try to make a better life. We don’t come to make trouble.”
Asked if she was in the country legally, the woman said: “I have children born here.”
Asked why she chose to leave her homeland to come to Trinidad to sell soft drinks, the woman said she had a relative who was already in Trinidad who would regularly tell her how many opportunities there were here.
She said she believed she would have an easier life in Trinidad, but she was confronted with the harsh reality when she arrived eight years ago.
“I thought it was a bed of roses, you know? But Trinidad is no bed of roses. It is not much different from Guyana,” she said. “It was hard there and it is hard here.”
To deport illegal immigrants, however, would cause a negative chain effect, as people who are unable to find employment in their home countries would be unable to support their families, she said.
This could lead to increased crime in their countries, she said. It would also be unfair to deport illegal immigrants who have young children who were born in Trinidad, she added.
The outspoken woman said she agreed illegals causing trouble should be deported, as they reflected badly on those seeking an honest living. But she said it would be difficult to determine who were the ones causing problems.
The woman pointed out several other Guyanese nationals who operate businesses nearby, but when the Sunday Express visited most of them refused to speak.
However, one Guyanese national who operates a clothing store on Charlotte Street, Port of Spain, with her son, said she has been here legally for the past 14 years.
Though legal, she sympathised with the plight of her illegal comrades, saying their situation was not unique. “People leave here and go looking for work abroad, too. There are Trinidadians living illegally all over the world, too.”
Responding to criticisms that illegal immigrants take away employment and other opportunities from locals, she said that was nonsense.
“Times are hard (everywhere),” she said. “It is hard for everybody. I didn’t sell $200 worth of clothes for the day, so outsiders are not taking away anything from anybody. They say we taking business away from them, but I’m not seeing it.”
Questioned about her reasons for leaving Guyana, the woman said she had no reason in particular. “I was neither rich nor poor in Guyana. I just felt to migrate,” she said. “I already had a sister living here.”
There are some 25,884 Guyanese nationals living illegally in Trinidad and Tobago, according to statistics from the Ministry of National Security.