The Government of National Unity has announced plans to build a Detention Centre in 2023 at the tune of $700,000 to house illegal immigrants.
Premier and Minister of Finance Dr. the Hon. Natalio Wheatley made the announcement during the 2023 Budget Address recently, as a means to tackle the ongoing issue that have been plaguing the territory.
He said, “$700,000 has been allocated in 2023 towards the development of a Detention Centre that will house and process illegal immigrants in a humane manner, and in accordance with international conventions, until they are safely repatriated to their homeland.”
Premier Wheatley spoke to the importance of such an initiative and the positive impacts it will have not only on the security of the territory but also on the finances of the government.
“The Virgin Islands is in need of a dedicated facility to accommodate the processing of illegal immigrants. This initiative is critical to the security and safety of our people, as well as complying with international standards for the treatment of illegal immigrants. The temporary accommodation arrangements as they obtain today are not effective and are vulnerable to subversion, as has been experienced in recent times. This will also save government money as renting accommodation to house detainees is very expensive,” Premier Wheatley explained.
For the year 2022, more than 50 illegal immigrants have already been detained with nearly 20 percent of that figure reportedly escaping custody.
While a large percentage have since been recaptured, the true number of persons still missing at large remains in question.
Back in March 2022, the government waived the tender process to allow for six companies to receive in excess of $1.3 million for the provisioning of security, temporary lodging and meals for detained illegal immigrants.