PHILIPSBURG–By law, St. Maarten does not regulate granting of Dutch citizenship, and this has left hundreds of children and young people born here to foreign parents without a regulated status, or are forced to leave the only home they know upon turning 18 for their parents’ country or live here in limbo. This discriminatory system will be ended by the United People’s (UP) party once given the mandate in today’s election to govern the country.
Party leader Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger told supporters at the green party’s final rally in Philipsburg on Saturday, “I am tired of young men telling me they don’t have a passport. I ask them where they were born and they tell me right here … we will bring an end to this. When you’re born in St. Maarten, you will get permanent residency.”
The granting of permanent residency to those born here paves the way for them to apply unhindered for their Dutch nationality in the future, he said. “It is ridiculous to have people without a nationality.”
The immigration status of children born here is tagged to that of their parents. If the parents are undocumented, so are the children. Those whose parents have a regulated status are covered by their parents until age 18. They have to find a way to regulate their status, to leave the country or stay here illegally.
Granting the permanent residency will give every person born here a chance, as well as the granting of 100 per cent full scholarships for crucially-needed jobs. Unlike the current study financing system where awardees have to pay back the tuition fees, Heyliger said there will be no paying back, the only requirements will be studies must be in a needed field and the scholarship recipient must return home to work.
UP is “about inclusion,” Heyliger said after zip-lining to the stage on the ring road. “My grandfather [the late Dr. Claude Wathey -Ed.] said, ‘Never take the people for granted.’ … I am a born St. Maartener and I love every child and all the people on St. Maarten. If you live on St. Maarten, you will be represented by this party.”
Heyliger, the highest vote-getter in the last election, did not make a bold declaration this time about taking the prime minister’s post. He did say, however, that the National Alliance rushed to open the Government Administration Building for Prime Minister William Marlin to sit in the prime minister’s chair. Marlin should prepare to leave after the elections results are in, because, “I have been packing my bag to move into that seat,” said Heyliger.
Voters were urged to go to the poll en masse or “the National Alliance and its blue youth wing party [United St. Maarten Party], will put us back in opposition” said Heyliger.
Party deputy leader MP Franklin Meyers, who has come under fire for what some described as xenophobic comments on the radio, took to the stage with India-born fellow candidate Sidharth “Cookie” Bijlani. Meyers said many have sought to twist his words. “I did not mean to offend and if I offended anyone, please accept my apologies. I am here for St. Maarten always.”
Source: Daily Herald
Theo: Immediate residence permits for children born here to foreign parents