By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-Hundreds of individuals from the Dominican community in St. Kitts and Nevis found themselves in Police custody on Saturday evening as law enforcement officers raided a number of bars in Newtown on Saturday evening Oct. 22.
The Observer understands that members of Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force rounded up over 100 hundred migrants from the Dominican Republic who they suspected to not have met the legal standards to be residents in St. Kitts.
It is reported that the individuals were held at a room at the police training school on Pond Road as they were questioned about their status.
This newspaper also understands that some of the individuals were released while others remained in custody.
In speaking with one of the Dominican nationals who witnessed one of the raids, she said she was not happy with how the police handled her colleagues.
“We were just enjoying a dance when police came in and started making noise,” she said.
She further stated that many of the individuals were left shocked at the treatment of the police and felt that they were a targeted demographic in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Our people always get trouble from people and this shows how some Spanish are treated like dogs and it’s not good,” the Dominican added.
Another Dominican said the raid on the Spanish community was unfair and that he does not think he has to walk with his passport whenever he leaves his home. He added that he grew up in St. Kitts and ever since he got to the island he was scorned for being Spanish.
The Dominican native stated that though he agrees some of his colleagues have not regularized their citizenship, all of the community should not be accused of such.
According to a police press release about the incident, “the objective of the operation was to identify and engage known persons who have over-stayed their granted time upon arrival, and persons who may have entered the Federation illegally. Both categories of persons would be in violation of the immigration laws of St. Kitts and Nevis”
The press release disclosed that 100 individuals were interrogated during the process, and over 60 persons provided relevant documents to prove their legal status in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The others including some who were unable to contact persons who could bring their documents to the Police were detained pending further investigation as to their residency status,” according to the release which quoted Inspector Jacqueline Browne, head of the Immigration Department.
“This operation, “Operation Legal Stay” was one of the many ways the department ensures compliance. Visits to jobsites and other such engagements are routinely done,” the inspector noted. “This operation was a more blanketed approach, and it yielded results.”
The Dominican community had been looking forward to the seventh Latin Fiesta that was slated to take place over the weekend.
The Observer found that some Jamaicans were also detained as part of the operation. At press time, it was unknown what will happen to those who failed to provide the required documents to police and immigration officials.