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STREET VIBE: Stop selling fear over US deportations; local crime is the real issue

“Armchair criminologists and political pundits, who are evidently clueless as is demonstrated with crime plan after crime plan, seem hell-bent on creating panic where none is warranted over the deportation of criminals, which is another example of selling fear to the masses to benefit a few.”

The following Letter to the Editor on concerns over the supposed mass deportation of criminals from the United States to Trinidad and Tobago was sent to Wired868 by Rudy Chato Paul, Sr:

It is extremely frustrating listening to adults, who for all intent and purposes, might be otherwise considered intelligent, regurgitate some idiotic line fed to them by of all persons, the elected president of the US.

Photo: Republican president-elect Donald Trump (left) greets supporters at a political rally. (Copyright Business Insider)
Photo: Republican president-elect Donald Trump (left) greets supporters at a political rally.
(Copyright Business Insider)

That this individual is to be suddenly taken seriously since winning the election, yet was seen as a ranting, circus clown earlier and never taken seriously, indeed reflects the prejudices and illiteracy which permeates not only large sections of the US population, but to a large extent, locals.

After having the misfortune of enduring misleading information being spewed by persons who repeat the garbage about millions of persons being deported, I can say without fear or favour that this is just another storm in a teacup. And of course, in the midst, there are the few con men who will see this as an ideal opportunity to call for more ‘government intervention’—namely more funding to pursue their personal agendas under the umbrella of missions and visions.

Armchair criminologists and political pundits, who are evidently clueless as is demonstrated with crime plan after crime plan, seem hell-bent on creating panic where none is warranted over the deportation of criminals, which is another example of selling fear to the masses to benefit a few.

As a self-anointed, pseudo-professional, and someone extremely familiar with crime, criminology and the deportation process, deportation has a long and complicated history.

Persons are deported to their respective homelands—repatriated, if you may—for numerous reasons. However, most of these persons are not ‘criminals.’  The bulk of them merely overstayed their welcome and were sent back when discovered.

Photo: A Guatemalan immigrant gets ready for deportation from the US. (Copyright Getty Images/CNN)
Photo: A Guatemalan immigrant gets ready for deportation from the US.
(Copyright Getty Images/CNN)

Let’s perhaps begin to acknowledge that people migrate for numerous reasons; most are in search of a ‘better life,’ and ‘greater opportunities,’ or some similar reason. There are also people from other jurisdictions fleeing oppression and persecution and fall into the category “refugees.” They warrant a separate discussion.

Nonetheless, people who migrate usually belong to the middle and lower social classes of the society from which they migrate. The well-to-do in these societies travel and return at their whims and fancy.

I recall many mothers travelling to the US in the 1970s and 1980s. Many overstayed their visas, worked as domestic help, only to later have someone ‘file their papers’ paving the way for thousands of today’s youth to earn their “green card,” and hence having more options. To refer to such people as criminals is unreasonable.

This is not to dismiss the fact that there were/are person who also engaged in criminal activities. But they are few and far in between.

To make out as if the sky is falling—again—as the Finance Minister did upon entering office, is evidently a distraction. Deportation usually takes place every month from the US and other countries, mostly England and Canada. That the US just happens to deport more people simply reflects that more people travel to the US.

Deportation falls under the ambit of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) which falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and not the Office of the President.

Photo: United States president-elect Donald Trump. (Copyright Getty)
Photo: United States president-elect Donald Trump.
(Copyright Getty)

For person convicted of crimes, deportation usually takes place after individuals serve out their sentences. They are then turned over to ICE and taken before an immigration court.

Since 911, the US has clamped down on virtually all illegal activities and as such has made numerous misdemeanour arrests. With a zero tolerance on crime, many people have been deported during this process. All are not criminals. Being caught in a routine traffic exercise and unable to produce proper identification often results in deportation.

Of greater concern to the pundits, armchair criminologists and other stakeholders would be to examine the current crime phenomenon in an objective, professional manner instead of chanting ‘the criminals are coming.’

If similar concerns about deportees had be shared about the ‘drugs and the guns are coming,’ perhaps, just perhaps, we might not have reached this point where today our families are insecure.

About Rudy Chato Paul Sr

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr, is passionate about gardening, music and writing and boasts post-graduate certification in Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology. He also studied Theology, which is why he is actively seeking to make Trinidad a better place rather than waiting for divine intervention. 

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52 comments

  1. Obama has deported record numbers from the US, focusing primarily on those with criminal records. I seem to recall a discussion that there was a change with the return of criminal elements to the Caribbean who had no local ties in the crime landscape.

  2. We steal to much we,re full of greed as administrators

  3. Will be used as a good excuse by the current government for their inability to deal with the crime.

  4. Really three million deportees who are Trouble Makers and most of them belongs to the Caribbean with Smartmen Trinis topping those numbers and you say stop selling Fear over those Deportations, What a burning Shame on you all. Do me a favour, go into the Prisons and adopt a bandit or rapist or murderer since you don’t have to fear you Morons. Only this PNM Cult Wired868 can relate to that type of Hypocrisy.

  5. First of all, Ms. Cumming, as a “criminologist” you should know that just about anything having to do with children can fall under the umbrella of sex offenders. So for example, if someone has a child in his/her presence and engages in anything illegal, like smoking weed or some other trivial BS, the charge is “endangering the welfare of a minor” which falls under the general umbrella of sex offenders.
    But forget trump for a sec; what about the local sex offenders, Ms. Cummings? How many do we have under the radar? How will a sex offender’s registry assist T&T, when murders are seen on tape and are still running around free, drinking at local bars, while police vehicles parade the BR with light and siren blaring, going nowhere fast? Doh geh mi started…

  6. TRUE ! NO ONE HAS A CLUE AS TO HOW TO DEAL WITH THE SITUATION ,. OUR MAJOR PROBLEM IS MANAGING OUR MAN POWER RESOURSES . AND A PROPER INTELLIGENCE UNIT .GOVERNMENT GO AND COME YET IS THE SAME BULLSHIT . BUT AS A DIVERSION THEY WOULD THROW THE PUBLIC OFF BY TELLING YUH THE PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION THIEF . THEY ALL AH BUNCH OF DECIEVERS NOT ONE ANY DIFFERENT .

  7. Our fear is Us deportees added to local criminals

  8. The deportation of sex offenders should be of critical concern. I wrote a few articles on that, years ago, when several sex offenders were deported to T&T.

    • Do we know anything of the safeguards taken by the police for this?

    • First of all, as a “criminologist” you should know that just about anything having to do with children can fall under the umbrella of sex offenders. So for example, if someone has a child in his/her presence and engages in anything illegal, like smoking weed or some other trivial BS, the charge is “endangering the welfare of a minor” which falls under the general umbrella of sex offenders.
      But what about the local sex offenders, Ms. Cummings? How many do we have under the radar? How will a sex offender’s registry assist T&T, when murders are seen on tape and are still running around free, drinking at local bars? Doh geh mi started…

    • I have addressed the topic of local sex offenders extensively in the media and in social media. I actually had a website dedicated to this topic featuring deportees who had raped and murdered children in the US and dedicated several months to the topic on my FB page. I also designed an
      Evidence Based Sex Offender Treatment and Management programme for juveniles and adults: Promoting Public Safety by Reducing Recidivism but the prisons were not interested. However, my work in this area has placed me on a regional sexual offences committee established by the Caribbean Court of Justice where I continue to advocate for reform in this area. I have spoken extensively on the sex offender registry. There is a big difference between endangering the welfare of a child and sexual offending. My concern with such a registry would be juvenile sexual offenders being placed on such a list (major area of discussion internationally) and gay men crimimalised wrongfully because of local law. Unfortunately, I don’t spend time discussing what I’m doing online so while I would love to continue the discussion I have work to do. I could certainly email the many sex offender management programmes that I shared with the prisons and relevant ministries but unfortunately we are not there yet. I have several interviews I can share to give a better understand of my thinking, training, and tenacity.

    • I always wondered how such a registry would work in such a small country like T&T. Unlike the US where one can potentially try to rehabilitate his life and ‘start over’ by finding a job and doing stuff in the same state or moving to another state depending on the state level law within particular constraints but still relatively easy. But in T&T if you’re living in Chaguanas trying to go start over and build your life in San Juan can prove difficult with all the rumours and ostracising. It could lead to serious mental and emotional torture for the individual possibly preventing full rehabilitation and provoking re-offending. This is my lay understanding.

      • KKP, I trust you are not advancing that as an argument against the establishment of such a registry, are you? If someone is to be punished for the transgressions of a sex offender, better it be the sex offender than the society, no?

        So yes, what is proposed is an imperfect, flawed system but would that not be better than doing nothing at all and leaving the door open to abuse…in more senses than one?

    • Well it depends on what justice means for our society and our philosophy behind criminal justice. If it’s to punish well yeah it will be solely be about punishing this person for an act they committed regardless of whatever condition. Though I agree it needs to be partially punitive and about retribution; if it’s to rehabilitate or even see it more holistically as criminal activity provoked by criminogenic environments or psycho-social deficits, the approach would be far different and more conprehensive.

    • I also suppose it depends on to what use the registry would be put, how and for what audience: whether by law enforcement for their own internal databases or for the public. My initial assumption was that it would be used to publicise offenders’ identities, the latter of which to me can lead to all sorts of problems such as potential vigilante attacks/reprisals and further criminal conduct. If it’s an internal registry or database for law enforcement and certain state agencies, it may be more effective.

    • Keston, I agree with you in principle. But the flip side is we know how effective local lawmen are in monitoring shady individuals. ??
      Hard to run a proper society with little trust in the various arms of governance.

  9. Lasana Liburd here’s an excellent book written by my mentor for anyone interested in the process and its impacts. https://cup.columbia.edu/book/banished-to-the-homeland/9780231149341

  10. Lasana Liburd I work in the US criminal justice system and I don’t subscribe to or encourage moral panic and fear mongering, hence the reason I stay so very quiet. A few years ago, Chris Chinapoo, Maria Gomes (head of the PCA) and former commissioner of prisons Rougier and moi did a comprehensive presentation on deportation, resocialisation and rehabilitation at the annual American corrections conference. Together, we designed a very solid plan that also looks at re-entry and re-integration. I subscribe to actionable evidence based approaches and interventions. Too many “local experts” taking short courses online and perpetrating to be criminologists. Actually, I’m in New Orleans at the American Society of Criminology annual conference spending some time with my peers. Ciao!

  11. While he makes some good points, one does have to consider that we do get deportees who have little or no ties to this country apart from having been born here with most having left in their early years. When they arrive here, someone has to help them and Vision and Mission has been doing this with insufficient help from the government. I do not need to speak about this as Mr Chance does a good job in this respect. I hope that the government is going to be monitoring whether Trump will send back more people than Obama and also take all necessary steps to ensure that any returning nationals who are deported from any country because of misdemeanours, crime or otherwise and who have no links to persons in TT get the assistance they need to be reabsorbed into our society.

    • “deportees who have little or no ties to this country apart from having been born here”, you’re very rude. I’ve never heard a Trinidadian migrant in UK say she done wid allyuh. Most of us, when we left we reinforced our Trinidadian-ness. The Soca Warriors played Iceland in London 10 years ago and T&T supporters appeared to outnumber the Icelanders by 5 to 1 on a very cold day. When you consider the number of steelbands in UK and the number of carnivals of the Trinidadian model, and the amount of soca tours of Trinidadian artists that we have organised you would realise that a piece of Trinidad travels with every migrant and even gains added value abroad. I know we’re all a set of Vincentians, Grenadians and Barbadians anyway, so none of you qualify to put me out. “Meh navel string done get bury Under a mango tree in Laventy”.

    • Danny Holder, perhaps you should consider my comments in the context of persons who are deported to TT.

    • Deportees or not Judy-ann Stewart, most Caribbean migrants left to ease the strain on the floundering education and societal infrastructure of their home nations. The generation before me were almost urban guerillas in their activities to prepare UK for the flood of migrants to follow. Post primary and QRC bought and sold roti and black pudding to each other and brought up a pan man to play tenor solos at their weddings. Dem boys were never going to be acceptable forever. Deportation is a government policy active in the 60s and 70s and has been reactivated in the last 15 years. That they have come home under arrest as opposed to on holiday waving foreign currency is an indication of what it took to cross culture within the slave master’s plan. New Trinidadian criminals stalk London streets but not with the same disregard for life you have down there. So the local culture is at fault and an injection of rationalised deportees is likely what Trinidad needs.

      • What an interesting perspective on this issue! There is however, at least one clear flaw in your premise and therefore in your argument and it is this: “most Caribbean migrants left to ease the strain on the floundering education and societal infrastructure of their home nations…”

        The migrants’ departure may well have eased the strain on a creaking, overburdened infrastructure but that was the result, not the intention. Somewhere in these comments, someone else has correctly pointed out that the migrants left in search of personal betterment; all the rest was accrued interest.

    • I’ll just accept that we are talking at cross purposes and move on.

  12. I would go so far as to say that crime, specifically murder is as big a threat to the average Trinidadian as terror attacks are to the average citizen of developed Western countries, but I don’t get the impression we see it that way.

    • Wait… You don’t think average trinis are in danger of crime?

    • To assist this discussion, we need a breakdown of murders into drugs/gangs, people and their close relatives, collateral damage, happened at robberies, happened because of arguments, happened because someone stepped on a toe or spoke to the wrong girlfriend, etc. I feel sure that the solved ones are not in the drugs/gangs, happened at robberies or collateral damage incidents. This means that the detection rate of under 20% means that over 80% relate to these cases and therefore do not relate to the average TT person. What do you think Vernal Damion Cadogan? Am I on the right track?

    • I agree Judy-ann, but to get that the murder detection rate would need to improve drastically and in order for the murder detection rate to improve drastically the TTPS would need proper leadership and in order for the TTPS to have proper leadership Williams would need to go.

      Now lets all hold hands and sing ‘There’s a Hole in the Bucket’.

    • I have had home break-ins in Arima on at least three occasions I can remember. My best friend had a gun put in his face at his house in Tunapuna by people who wanted his car. He works TSTT. My sister in law was carjacked at gunpoint in St Augustine last week (somewhere between UWI and St Augustine Secondary) while picking up her son from primary school. She works at RBC.
      So Vernal that is three people with no criminal background or lifestyles, who were not doing anything unusual and don’t even life in particularly depressed areas or are anything more than ordinary Trinis to me.
      Or are we extraordinary?

    • But Lasana, that’s my point … violent crime, particularly murder is as great a threat to the average Trinidadian as terrorism is to the average citizen of developed Western countries.
      The problem is we don’t take our threats as serious as those citizens take their’s.

    • I just realized that you misread my comment. I thought you were kidding.
      My bad!

    • Vernal Damion Cadogan I live in Europe, Netherlands. I don’t feel any actual threat of terrorism, whereas in T&T the fear of being mugged is tangible 24/7.

  13. “Armchair criminologists and political pundits, who are evidently clueless as is demonstrated with crime plan after crime plan… ”

    I am completely unaware that the multiplicity of crime plans (often with fancy-sounding names) to which we have been treated over the last decade were produced by or with the collaboration of “armchair criminologists and political pundits.” I was of the impression that they were put together by high-ranking police people and professional criminologists properly policed by politicians.

    But I would be the first to concede that that may well be an erroneous impression since it is based neither on research, first-hand experience nor observation but on pragmatism and common sense.

    • Earl, well you’re in for a surprise. Surprise! Deosaran is one of the “armchair criminologist” I had in mind when I wrote; and Fat Maharaj is a political pundit. Furthermore, most of the police service are clueless when it comes to dealing with criminal matters as their point of reference dates back to the 70s and the Burroughs era. The problem with crime in this country lies in the bowels of the ttps–no apologies. The management is clueless and has been whorishly politicized.

    • While I am the least bit interested in making this a “personal attack,” your affiliation with any arm of the us criminal justice is further evidence of you as a failure; the entire us criminal justice system is a total failure. As someone quite familiar with how the system operates –from the belly of the beast– the us recidivism rate alone can testify to its failure. Then again, if you are familiar with Jeffery Reiman’s work you will know that the only way the system can get more money is by failing. And while this may only apply to the prison system in the us, it applies to every institution in T&T. T&T is, as Rudder said, a pimper’s paradise where con men like Mafstroski, Guallini et al can come with “crime plans” and sell to us banana republicans for millions, while leaving us worse off.

    • Further evidence of their cluelessness can be seen where none of the “crime plans” have been able to put the slightest dent in the crime rates, despite claims to the contrary by the ttps. As a mater of fact, the numbers have been going in the other direction…

      • Rudy,
        Thanks. I have always thought that your “armchair criminologist” was not interested in solving any problems but had as his main interest making more work for himself. I am truly surprised to hear that he was involved in the shaping of crime plans. Nosurprise, then, that they have all failed to deliver anything by way of a solution; they weren’t supposed to if, as i suspect is the case, you information is accurate.