PHILIPSBURG–Justice Minister Anna Richardson said during the live virtual Council of Ministers press briefing on Wednesday morning that she will not back down from “strictly enforcing” the country’s immigration regulations.
Richardson announced the hard-line enforcement policy on Wednesday, June 10, and urged all illegal migrants to voluntarily leave the country or face deportation. The announcement was met with mixed feelings on social media, with some criticising the approach for being tough and inhumane.
“This is not the Anna policy; this is our immigration structure … right is right and wrong is wrong … and this minister is only seeking to structure things properly for St. Maarten,” said Richardson on Wednesday.
To her critics, she said the initiative’s objective is justice.
“Justice for those who have migrated to St. Maarten and have done nothing but been upstanding residents and citizens of this country. Justice for nationals of St. Maarten who deserve a proper chance in the only place they have to call home,” said Richardson.
She thanked those migrants who have “respected the laws of St. Maarten”, but “those who are taking a negative stance on this, you are the ones who we are asking to leave.”
Richardson did not field questions from reporters during the press briefing because she had to leave to attend to what she described as “pressing matters.” She apologised for her absence.
“I will have some future updates to come but this minister is not backing down,” said Richardson before leaving.