THE Jamaican Government yesterday advised Jamaicans at home and overseas not to panic over the recent immigration orders issued by United States President Donald Trump.
“We just need to be calm. We will be having discussions with our international partners to have all the concerns addressed. We don’t want any panic because there have been no definitive actions taken of which Jamaica is directly impacted,” Education and Information Minister Senator Ruel Reid said yesterday.
The Government, Reid told the Jamaica Observer, “will be acting on behalf of all its citizens to protect our interest. Just give us some time to speak to all our partners to sort through the issues”.
He was reacting to a release issued by Opposition spokesperson on youth and culture Lisa Hanna, who called on the Government to clarify whether Trump’s executive orders on immigration issued on Friday could affect Jamaican students seeking employment in the United States.
Foreign Minsiter Senator Kamina Johnson Smith also encouraged Jamaicans to remain calm in light of recent events in the United States.
“It is very important in these matters that we remain calm and responsible. It is extremely unhelpful that people are inciting panic on matters that are very complex and very technical and subject to a lot of uncertainty, even in the issuing State,” Johnson Smith said in a release last evening.
“The ministry is making every effort to ascertain the scope of these orders, and it is important that we not conflate them, because there is more than one order and they deal with entirely different things. I would ask the Jamaican community overseas and public to remain calm and to be assured that the ministry is examining these issues.
“We are in contact with the US embassy here, and we are in contact with the State Department overseas through our missions there. As soon as we are clear on the advice we can give to the public on any impact on the Jamaican community, we will do so. Please be assured that we are monitoring these issues closely with your interest at heart,” said the Jamaican foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Hanna, in her release, said: “The president of the United States has signed a raft of executive orders directing the operations of federal agencies on a range of issues. Mr Trump’s order on immigration has attracted significant international attention as it purports to significantly restrict access to visas and other benefits traditionally afforded by the US Government. One such benefit is the J1 visa programme.”
She said that, in the face of the uncertainty created by the executive order, the Government of Jamaica should provide clarity for students who may be planning to travel for employment this summer.
“Because the language of Mr Trump’s executive order is particularly broad… it could potentially affect Jamaican students. Many of our students rely on the work and travel programme for its employment opportunities to pay their way through university or college and to gain much-needed work experience. Should the executive order actually restrict access for our students to the US job market, how does the Jamaican Government intend to absorb the demand that will be created for employment. Many of these students start preparation as early as January each year, which for many is a very costly,” Hanna argued..
The Opposition spokesperson said she found it “surprising that the Jamaican Government has not sought to give this matter as many of the young people were unaware of the possible impact the immigration order could have on their plans to travel and work overseas.
The executive order, ‘Protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States’, which has been the centre of global outcry since Friday, restricts immigration from seven Muslim countries and suspends all refugee admission to the United States for 120 days. It led to major protests at a number of airports across the US, where people with valid documentation were detained, forcing legal challenges.
Green card holders, or permanent residents of the US, have been urged to seek legal advice before travelling out of the country.