Government committee to review concerns of Hispanic community in St. Kitts-Nevis
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is launching a new committee to review and improve the lives and livelihoods of the Hispanic community residing in the twin-island federation, while encouraging multiculturalism.
The announcement was made by Prime Minister the Honourable Dr. Timothy Harris during his monthly press conference April 25. The formation of the committee is a direct follow-up action to a meeting held March 21 at the Newtown Community Centre, where close to 500 people packed the main hall room to dialogue with the prime minister and other members of his Cabinet.
The committee will fall under the aegis of the Office of the Prime Minister and, according to Harris, “will devise policies to improve” the status of the Hispanic residents. Its membership will be drawn from the Hispanic community, the Department of Immigration in the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force, the Office of the Prime Minister, and the Ministries of National Security, Education, Culture, Foreign Affairs, and Legal as well as Social and Community Development.
“There are multiple issues in terms of their integration,” Harris stated. “There are issues with respect [to] how do you educate the [Hispanic] students in an English setting being their first option in the formal education system. What resources will be required to make that learning exercise easier for them?”
Access to social services and other critical government programmes were also mentioned as concerns of the community that will be reviewed, as well as a pathway to Hispanics regularizing their status, and reforms to the immigration rules in order to better protect the borders.
Heriberto Torres, a barber based in St. Kitts, was one of the main organizers for the March 21 meeting. He said that he was thankful for the support given to the Spanish community by the government. The young man noted that he was honoured by the confidence that has been placed in him as a representative of the immigrant community and was looking forward to deepening the engagement with the government and people of St. Kitts and Nevis.