Trinidadian Dwight Yorke.
Associated Press / John Marshall JME

The Caribbean Community nation responsible for crime and security in the bloc has ironically been in global news for all the wrong reasons this week with issues from President Trump’s telephone conversation with Prime Minister Keith Rowley to fears about locals becoming ISIS fighters making international headlines.

Some of its citizens have also run into problems with Mr. Trump’s immigration crackdown spawning calls from locals even with valid green cards not to venture overseas at this time.

But even as the month-old administration in Washington rolls out an amended anti-immigration package, local media is reporting that Trump did in fact raise fears about Trinidadian Muslims heading to the Middle East to fight alongside ISIS groups.

The call pushed major American news outlets to focus both on Trinidad and on the contents of the conversation between the two leaders.

The New York Times, for example, chimed in on current focus on Trinidad as a place of interest to the US stating that Washington is indeed worried that the oil and gas-rich nation could become a “breeding ground for extremists.”

The fears are exaggerated by the close geographic proximity of the island and the Caribbean in general to mainland America and the fact that there are major American oil and gas installations on the twin-island nation with Tobago.

Trump and Rowley spoke briefly on Sunday and the call made Rowley the first leader in the bloc to directly engage Mr. Trump since he was sworn in in late January. Rowley has since reaffirmed the island’ commitment to the global effort to eliminate international crime including terrorism.

But even as regional academics were analyzing events of the past week, former Trinidadian and global soccer star Dwight Yorke ran into trouble with federal border control officials while trying to pass through Miami because he has an Iranian stamp in his passport. His entry refusal has only served to increase anxieties even among green card holders as immigration experts have urged caution relating to travel plans.

Yorke is known globally as a retired start from Manchester United and his problems encouraged Rowley to chime in on the issue.

“What has happened there is that Mr. Yorke is a dual citizen and travels on a British passport. In using that British passport, presenting himself as a British citizen, he would not require a visa because he would have fallen under the visa waiver which applies to citizens from a number of countries. There is not so much anything to look into as much as there is proper information needs to be had by persons engaging in international travel,” Rowley said.

Even as the prime minister was returning from the regional leaders conference in Guyana, Trinidadian and Guyanese nationals living in Queens, New York in particular, were feeling the brunt of illegal immigration raids in various ethnic enclaves.

Residents said that agents in the past week raided stores, restaurants and other business places in Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill and arrested several undocumented Caribbean nationals, many of them Indo Caribbeans.

The result is that many are not reporting for work and are remaining under cover, hoping that agents will focus on other areas.

Commenting on the issue, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of Grenada suggested that the regional economy will eventually suffer from a slow down in travel.

“We must obviously be concerned with the recent issue related to immigration and the impact it will have on our citizens and the impact it will have on tourism. The uncertainty is there so clearly that has to be settled.”

Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago Keith Rowley.
Government of Trinidad and Tobago

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