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(ANTIGUA NEWS ROOM) – Naturalized citizens of Antigua and Barbuda who are involved in serious crimes face the risk of deportation and loss of their citizenship.
This was announced by Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin who noted that changes will be made to the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Act.
Persons who have resided in Antigua and Barbuda for seven unbroken, consecutive years are entitled to become citizens of the country, and receive all the benefits like those who were born here. Individuals can also obtain citizenship through investment, descent and marriage.
Benjamin said crime is becoming a serious problem and in order to protect the people, those individuals found to be involved in serious illicit activities will be booted from the country, despite having been granted citizenship.
He said once the prime minister is satisfied that a person is a threat to national security, the appropriate steps will be taken to revoke their citizenship status and send them back to their country of birth.
“I saw a list and the PM saw a list too where persons were sent back to Antigua from the States and other countries who committed offences there. We want to make it clear that if any naturalised citizen or registered citizen by registration is deported and come back to Antigua having committed crimes over there, you too fall prey to the same consideration. In other words, if you live in Antigua, you live for seven years consecutively and you qualify for citizenship, you receive citizenship and you leave Antigua and go to another country overseas and commit a crime over there and sent back here, you gone back to your country as well. So we want you to understand that that also is in the offering. We want to make certain that we protect this country,” Benjamin said.
The prime minister disclosed in Parliament yesterday that at least two people have been deported back to their country of birth and four others will be declared persona non grata and returned to their country as well.
Head of the Democratic National Alliance (DNA) Joanne Massiah recently made a call for the country’s open door policy to Caricom nationals to be reviewed taking into account the recent upsurge in violent crimes.