‘Border control’ to now be separate from police on St. Maarten

MONDAY, 09 JULY 2012

PHILIPSBURG--The Border Patrol/Immigration Department will now by separate from the Police Department, Justice Minister Roland Duncan said at an information session on the far-reaching changes to the country's admittance and expulsion regulations LTU on Friday. He noted that the only thing the immigration department has in common with the police is that the Police Chief heads both sections.

The minister told the gathering of immigration and other justice personnel at Belair Community Centre that this was the administration structure he met when taking office in October 10, 2010. It's based on an organisational decree. "I met it so."

Immigration and border patrol will now fall under the Immigration and Naturalisation Department (IND) headquartered on A.Th. Illidge Road, where the justice minister's office is also located.

The immigration and border patrol stationed at Princess Juliana International Airport and Dr. A.C. Wathey Cruise and Cargo Facilities will also be equipped with specialised vehicles for patrols. These vehicles will all be marked with "Immigration" to make them easily identifiable.

The task of the immigration and border patrol officers will be to check people's immigration status and to detain undocumented people for deportation pending the completion of the necessary legal steps.

Immigrants will soon be easily identified with the planned introduction of a foreigner ID card. That card will replace the need for immigrants to have their residence permit document on them. Funds are already in place to start production of the card. Also to come is the implementation of an annual fee for holders of temporary and permanent residence permits.
Listing the duties of the IND and by extension the immigration and border patrol, Duncan said the department is responsible for visa execution (vetting visa applications for the country prior to issuance by the Dutch embassies), supervision and control of undocumented people, overseeing the naturalisation policy which has to be regulated together with the Governor's Cabinet, combat human trafficking and render legal assistance to the justice minister in court cases.

The expansion of service by the Justice Minister and additional responsibilities of IND, such as the patrols, will be covered by the introduction of several fees for services by the ministry; many services such as provision of police records are subject to stamp duty fees.

Duncan told personnel that charging fees goes hand in hand with providing good and efficient service for the public. He added that the service at IND has greatly improved, but there is still a way to go. He said he has received positive comments about the improvement of service by IND.