~ Minister getting rid of foreigners thru backdoor says attorneys.~
PHILIPSBURG:--- In response to queries regarding the residency permit policy that is being executed by the IND at the Ministry of Justice, Minister of Justice Anna Richardson said on Wednesday at the Council of Ministers press briefing that the policy that was established in 2012 has not changed or amended.
Minister Richardson said the policy was not properly enforced in the past and that it is her responsibility as the current Minister of Justice to ensure that the policies in place are fully enforced.
Asked for further clarity as to who exactly was not fully enforcing the policy, the Minister said that she did not take the time to look-into who was not enforcing the policy but in fact has decided the letter of the law must be followed under her watch.
As for the policy, the Minister said that applicants who applied for residency whether it is a renewal or first-time applicant must be able to prove that they are self-sufficient by earning NAF2.000.00 monthly.
Research conducted by SMN News shows that there is no written policy in place but in fact, the former Ministers have a list of guidelines that were put in place by former Minister of Justice Roland Duncan in 2012. So far, there is no published policy that would allow the Minister or IND to deny permits for the lack of sufficient income from a spouse or even if the application was submitted while the applicant was residing on the island illegally.
Several persons including attorneys on the island have reported that the Ministry of Justice namely IND has been requesting additional documents and information from applicants and then these requests are being denied. One such document is a bank account showing the exact amount of funds the applicant or his or her spouse has saved. An attorney said that persons who applied for their wife or husband are being denied because the Minister feels they do not have enough money to support each other. “This was never the case in the past, these applicants did not have to have a specific amount of money saved to be qualified. The additional questions and or demands were never requested when St. Maarten was part of the Netherlands Antilles neither since the island became a country.”
According to information provided states that the Minister recently established a compliance committee that has been calling in applicants despite the COVID 19 and has been interrogating them about their financial status after which their requests are being denied. There are a number of court cases that have been filed and there are a number of decisions against the Minister simply because there is no written policy in place that was published.
Persons that applied for directors’ license or permanent residency are the ones that are being victimized after being interrogated by the committee. The attorneys said that the Minister made certain comments when she first took office about “getting rid” of foreigners and she received a backlash from the community. They said the Minister is using IND to get rid of these foreigners through the back door and this they said is illegal and against human rights.
Several business owners obtained loans to open their business and despite the terrible economic activity these entrepreneurs are doing their best to survive in St. Maarten, to repay their loans but the Minister of Justice has chosen to jeopardize the country because without the directors’ license or residency permits these persons would have to file for bankruptcy. They have since issued a call on parliament and the coalition government to look into the “illegal activities taking place at the Ministry of Justice especially at immigration.