"Gov’t should merge work/residence permit and Permanent Residency for those born here."
PHILIPSBURG:--- Leader of the United People's Party, MP Rolando Brison, expressed satisfaction over the Government of St. Maarten's announcement that it has instituted a "grace period" during which undocumented persons living on the island can apply for residence and work permits.
"I am quite pleased with the announcement of a grace period for the application of work permits by those who have "fallen through the cracks" of the legal system," stated Brison on Thursday evening.
He said many persons residing on the island without the necessary residence and work permits have proven to be of good conduct in the country and are willing to contribute positively by being socially, financially, and economically responsible as we advance.
"It is great to see our Ministers of Labour Omar Ottley and Minister of Justice Anna Richardson coming together to make this a reality. The grace period is in line with the UP/NA governing program but is also in line with the core principle of the UP Party, which advocates inclusiveness."
Brison said, "During discussions within the Coalition Members, the UP Faction expressed its wishes to have the government provide more means for businesses to legalize their employees more expediently."
"The healthy dialogue between Coalition partners has resulted in positive action from both Ministers, showing the ability of this government to work in the interest of the people."
The policy was announced several months ago and is scheduled to be launched in November. It will allow undocumented non-nationals to become legal, tax-paying, and socially contributing citizens based on a work and residence permit. Two of the conditions
are that the applicants must have a certificate of good conduct, and an employer willing to regulate and pay all costs related to the person’s legal status submits the application.
Quelling naysayers' claims, Brison said the new policy is "not a reckless opening of the border to any and everyone." The policy gives businesses a fair chance to secure the necessary labor while ensuring everyone in our community is a law-abiding and tax-paying citizen.
"These people can contribute positively and complement our population with their sense of belonging," noted Brison. Brison said fees collected from the outstanding work and residence permits should support more training programs that can help develop the local labor force. "Putting some of this money to institutions such as the National Institute for Professional Advancement NIPA is something I intend to address in the upcoming budget handling in Parliament," said Brison.
"The UP Party is a firm believer in the principle of inclusiveness. We believe people want to contribute positively to the country and the community they have made their home. Like them, I am the child of an immigrant who was born to be here," stated Brison. The MP said the policies being implemented help St. Maarten's Government meet its requirement to comply with various international laws, including the European Human Rights Charter and other treaties to which St. Maarten is a party.
Brison states, "Future steps should include merging the work and residence permit process. The United People's Party has already drafted and is reviewing the proposed legislation with the Ministry of Justice and Labour to make this a reality."
He said the UP Party looks forward to also establishing the vision of the Party Founder, Theodore Heyliger, who always believed that everyone born here should rightfully receive permanent residence status.
"This is in line with International Law, including the 1961 convention on Statelessness. We believe persons born in St. Maarten should have automatic permanent residence. We are conducting studies to aid in our future presentation of the "belonger" legislation, which would entail a simple change to an article of the Admittance Ordinance, declaring born St. Maarteners permanent residents," said Brison.