Jamaican foreign minister urges calm over US travel ban
Responding to the raging controversy over President Donald Trump’s executive order banning some immigrants from entering the United States, Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith is encouraging Jamaicans to remain calm in light of recent events in the United States.
In a statement to Jamaicans, the Minister said, “It is very important in these matters that we remain calm and responsible. It is extremely unhelpful that people are inciting panic on matters that are very complex and very technical and subject to a lot of uncertainty even in the issuing state. The Ministry is making every effort to ascertain the scope of these orders and it is important that we not conflate them, because there is more than one order and they deal with entirely different things. I would ask the Jamaican community overseas and public to remain calm and to be assured that the Ministry is examining these issues.”
Jamaica has one of the largest Caribbean Diaspora communities in the United States. This Diaspora estimated at over 2 million has large communities in South Florida, New York/New Jersey/Connecticut, Philadelphia, California, Atlanta, and Washington DC/Maryland/Virginia. The Jamaican Diaspora includes US citizens, permanent US residents (Green-card holders) and undocumented residents.
Trump’s ban against immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries has generated concerns among Jamaicans. The concern is driven by the fact that the majority of Jamaicans at home have relatives living in the US, and several are dependent on financial and other assistance from these relatives. Moreover, and particularly relevant to any measures taken by the Trump administration to deter the flow of immigrants to the US, several Jamaicans are continuously seeking to migrate to join relatives in the Diaspora, or otherwise seek to migrate to the US in search of the American dream.
In seeking to appease these concerned Jamaicans, Minister Johnson Smith said, “We are in contact with the US Embassy here (in Jamaica), and we are in contact with the State Department overseas through our US Missions. As soon as we are clear on the advice we can give to the public on any impact on the Jamaican community, we will do so. Please be assured that we are monitoring these issues closely with your interest at heart.”
The minister also said the Ministry and the Government will maintain open communications channels and provide updates as matters become clearer, and the circumstances evolve.
“I think it’s important to make the point that the Jamaican Government cannot afford to rely on media reports and websites for information, so we have requested documentation on the Executive Orders from the US Embassy here and our missions in the (United) States. So we are very much doing the work that is necessary to ensure we do not inflame or give inaccurate positions or speculate as I believe is being done quite broadly now. We are making sure we have the right information to give the Jamaican people the correct advice which they need to guide them in their actions.”