Protecting borders critical to addressing crime

Minister of National Security, Dr Horace Chang, says that protecting the country’s borders is critical in curtailing crime.

 “We have to control transnational crime, and if we get that right… it will be [one of] the most effective steps in getting criminals under control in Jamaica. The Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA), Jamaica Customs, the Coast Guard and the police [must work] together to ensure that we can protect our borders and disrupt the transnational criminal activity,” the minister argued.

 “Keeping our borders safe is critical to ensuring that we [continue to] have a growing visitor industry as well as a growing economy,” he added.

Dr Chang was addressing PICA’s general staff meeting, which was held at the HEART College of Technology and Innovation in Montego Bay, St James, on Friday (June 14).

He hailed the agency’s work, noting that it is playing a key role in the country’s national security, by preventing the entry of unsavory individuals into the island.  

 “The public interface [with the agency] is getting a passport and stamping immigration forms and sending them through. [However], the organisation is far more complex, far more involved and, in fact, plays a critical role in [the nation’s] security, which, often times, is not recognised by the wider society,”  he noted.

 “Let me commend you on the work you are doing.  I know you are working hard, and where there may be weaknesses, I know you are working to overcome them,” he said.

Dr Chang said that the ministry is open to suggestions from PICA on policy changes that can improve its effectiveness.

 “What I would like to see is not only your efforts being rewarded, but [for you to] become the best immigration and citizenship organisation in the Western Hemisphere, because you have the ability. You have the capacity and you have the personnel, and I commend you,” he added.

PICA’s general meeting was attended by scores of immigration officers from across the island.  The session included group activities as well as presentations on the entity’s operational and corporate plans.