A Grenadian deportee wants Grenada to forcefully lobby the U.S Government of President Barack Obama to put facilities in place to better prepare deportees with criminal records for integration with natives before sending back to the Caribbean.
Mark Anthony of St David visited the office of THE NEW TODAY last week Wednesday to voice his concerns about the U.S policy of just sending back to the Caribbean some of its nationals after serving time in American jails for engaging in criminal activities.
The 45-year old man complained that in most cases, the deportees have lived almost all their lives in the U.S and have great difficulties integrating in an unknown society.
According to Anthony, he was born in Grenada but migrated at the age of two
with his parents to live in the United States.
He said that having lived almost his entire life in the US, he ran afoul of the law for engaging in Illegal drugs, served four-and-a-half years imprisonment until his release in 2000 and his subsequent deportation.
The St David’s resident told The New Today that he was deported back to Grenada with very little and had to beg for accommodation from family members whom he only knew through long-distant contact.
In addition to both his parents remaining in the US, the deportee was separated from his two teenage daughters who were also temporarily displaced from their home with their mother, as the bills were not paid following his arrest and jail sentence.
Anthony said that since his return to Grenada, he has been forced to beg for accommodation at family members who are ashamed of him due to his past and no longer want to be affiliated with him due to the stigma attached with being a deportee.
He also pointed out that his attempts to seek gainful employment resulted in him being taken advantage of by some employers.
He spoke of at times being subjected to receiving little and sometime no pay after completing a job and sometime being forced by some big business owners to do their dirty work.
“I already did my time, but I would have preferred to remain imprisoned in the US rather than be deported here,” Anthony told this newspaper.
He charged that being in Grenada makes him feel that he is serving another prison sentence as the stigma attached to being labeled a deportee makes it impossible for him to be gainfully employed and with very little contact with his children.
The St. David’s man stated that as a result of the hardships faced due to his plight, he was forced to return to selling drugs, which resulted in him being arrested and charged by the local police.
He said that he was found guilty by a law court which imposed fine on him but to date he has not been able to do so.
Anthony is hopeful that Grenadians would become more educated on the issue of deportation from the U.S after running afoul of the law.
He expressed a willingness to be part of an organisation in Grenada that would seek to deal with issues facing deportees and helping to change the mentality of locals on the issue.
The deportee stressed that he wants to do the right thing and refrain from engaging in illegal activities to survive but is now mentally drained without getting the necessary family or government support.
Grenada Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell raised the issue of deportees earlier this month when the US Vice-President, Joe Biden, visited Trinidad and Tobago for discussions with Caribbean Heads of Government.
Dr. Mitchell, a former U.S citizen himself, informed Biden that the region “cannot continue to have more lip service” from Washington on the critical issue of just deporting these people without preparing them for a life in their new environment.
One of the requests made of the US Government is for the medical, and criminal records of deported criminals to be supplied to the country to which they are being returned.
The regional leaders explained to Biden that many of the deportees had left their places of birth as infants and therefore had spent most of their lives in the U.S. and hardly know anything about the countries to which they were being returned.
The leaders are concerned that with little or no family connections, some deportees can once again easily become involved in criminal activity.