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IMA donates non-perishable and dry goods leading to 500 food baskets distributed to the most vulnerable

GREAT BAY, Sint Maarten (DCOMM) – The Indian Merchants Association (IMA) has donated in total to-date 500 food packages for the most vulnerable in society.

A team consisting of 30 plus volunteers packed and distributed food packages every weekend from May 16.

The team worked in collaboration with the Government namely, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour (Ministry VSA) Joy Arnell, Department Head of Community Development, Family & Humanitarian Affairs Chantale George – Groeneveldt and staff, members of the Sint Maarten Police Force, and various Community Councils and or Community-minded persons.

Recognizing that the Red Cross cash for food program began, IMA will discontinue its distribution, however, the board and Board members of IMA expressed their interest to assist whenever needed.

Persons are reminded, those needing assistance should fill in the digital Social Impact Assessment Form by going to the following link for the digital registration system: http://onlineservices.sintmaartengov.org/covid19/SIAForm.aspx

The Social Impact Assessment Form is available on the Government Website for download on smart phones, desktops, or laptops. The forms can also be filled in online and submitted for processing.

There are several sections on the form that needs to be filled in such as Section 1 “Personal data,” Section 2 “Financial/Employment data,” and Section 3 “Basic Needs Assessment.”

IMA food boxes

 

 

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PFP Requests Clarity from Justice Minister on Illegal Immigration Announcement

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MP) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon Peterson have submitted questions to Minister Anna Richardson, following the Minister’s announcement that the country’s immigration laws would be “strictly enforced,” as well as encouraging those without resident permits to voluntarily leave the island or face detainment and deportation.

The faction has stated publicly that the country’s rampant illegal immigration problem has desperately needed attention for over ten years now and both MPs commend the Minister for at least taking the initiative to start the discussion to handle this issue. However, both held some concerns with the planning and execution of the proposed plan, particularly with regard to the country’s compliance with international human rights standards. The faction questioned if the Minister’s announcement is meant to be an execution of article 15 of the Landsverordening Toelating and Uitzetting (the so-called LTU) and if so, what legal basis is being applied for its execution. The concern is that statements or press releases cannot legally bind citizens or residents; any action must find itself rooted in legal basis, whether through a national ordinance, national decree with general measures or ministerial regulations. To be on the right side of international standards, all bases must be covered from a legal standpoint.

The MPs further questioned the Minister on the duration of the ‘voluntary departure’ period, as well as requesting a timeline for when detainment and deportation efforts will begin. A critical point the faction raises is where detainees will be held until their deportation is executed. This could have serious implications for Sint Maarten’s compliance to international human rights standards and regulations, especially considering the state of justice-related facilities on the island.

“International standards, whether in human rights, finance, etc, cannot just apply to us when convenient and working in our favor,” the faction said in an invited comment. “We also have a responsibility to adhere to them and implement them in our functioning as a country.”

Due to the long-running issue of undocumented persons crossing the borders to evade immigration-related actions, the faction queried whether the Ministry of Justice had informed the relevant authorities of the French Side of the island prior to the Minister issuing this statement. The MPs also asked for clarification on the Minister’s stoppage of the residence permit process. They questioned if the stoppage extended to permit renewals and whether or not consideration will be given to those who may have filed their request to renew and then were faced with a COVID-19 lockdown.

Finally, the PFP faction noted that illegal immigration, worldwide, is fueled by many factors, one of which being the exploitation of illegal/undocumented workers by companies and/or individuals. They asked Minister Richardson what disciplinary and control measures she intended to apply to local companies and/or individuals who have participated in the hiring of illegal immigrants or have engaged in the falsification of documents to hire said illegal immigrants.

“To lay this entire problem at the foot of the illegal immigrants who came and keep coming here is to ignore our own responsibility and role in this issue,” the faction’s invited comment continued. “It is no secret that there are prominent individuals in the community who have participated in the importing and hiring of illegal immigrants for their business, whether construction-based or not. There must be some consequence for these actions as well, or in another ten years, we will find ourselves having this same discussion again.”

The faction requested that answers from the Minister be provided within one week.

Raeyhon A. Peterson

                                 PFP MP Raeyhon Peterson 

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Heyliger-Marten repeats demand for decolonization following IPKO

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG)—Whether the recently held IPKO Meeting with the Kingdom Partners will yield fruit is too early to say but departing Members from The Netherlands are now sure that Member of Parliament and Faction Leader for the United People’s Party Grisha Heyliger-Marten’s mission to right the wrongs of the Kingdom Charter are only just beginning.

On Sunday Heyliger-Marten issued a statement in which she confirmed that partners within the Kingdom had and continue to have unresolved disputes since the inception of the Kingdom Charter (“het Statuut”) in 1955.

“Since then, Holland has been using its size and power to impose its will on its Caribbean partners within the Kingdom. In the particular case of the dispute regulation, Holland wants to be able to overrule the authority that issues the final ruling. This makes no sense; how can you have justice in a dispute when you have a judge who can be overruled by the stronger party?

MP Heyliger-Marten was amongst several members of parliament from Aruba, Curacao, St. Maarten and The Netherlands who held several virtual meetings for IPKO this year. “During the IPKO, I stated that it was my first and that I wanted it to be my last. I did not say that because I don’t value deliberations between equal partners about what’s best for their respective constituents. I said it because previous IPKO’s have not produced any tangible results. Unfortunately, this was again the case last week. Still, I genuinely hope that the next official gathering between the Parliaments in the Kingdom will be set in absolute equality as mandated by the UN,” said Heyliger-Marten.

She said, “One fact about which there can be no dispute, is that Holland has not lived up to its international obligations, and has not decolonized the Caribbean in conformity with the UN Charter.”

“Whether the Dutch Government wants to face it or not, UN Resolution 945 indicates that article 73 a, b, c, and d of the UN Charter are still applicable to Holland. That debate has been settled, and the evidence is there. Academic research by Dr Steven Hillebrink, Dr Carlyle Corbin, as well as former Minister Ronald Plasterk’s statements, MP Bosman’s statements and proposals, and State Secretary Raymond Knops’ proposal to form a working group about the responsibilities within the Kingdom are all proof of this,” said MP Heyliger-Marten.

The goal of MP Heyliger-Marten is to finalize the decolonization process and end the interference by Holland. “Only then will the Caribbean Dutch Islands have governments that can take charge of our destiny and do what is best for our constituents based on our local democratic institutions and processes.

At such time, if disputes arrives, an adequately appointed and impartial judge can have the final say and with a binding verdict.” Heyliger-Marten suggests that in that case, the judge could be from within the Kingdom, the European Court, the UN General Assembly, or the International Court of Justice.

In conclusion, she said, “All the good intentions expressed at the IPKO during those two days will have been for nothing if Holland doesn’t abide by the UN Charter and international laws.” She produced research documents to media houses within The Netherlands Kingdom showing the basis for partners within the Kingdom to jointly finalize the decolonization process of the Caribbean islands during a Round Table Conference during the summer of 2021.

“I look forward to having an informed public debate in Parliament, and presenting a concrete proposal for the process towards the Round Table Conference within short,” said Heyliger-Marten.

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Panneflek: FIGHT BACK, A collective neighborhood approach to Mosquito Control

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - The Honorable Minister Richard Panneflek announces that the Collective Prevention Services (CPS), a department within the ministry of Public Health, Social Development and Labor will be executing a Vector Control Awareness Campaign with the slogan “FIGHT BACK, A Neighborhood approach to Mosquito Control” in the communities. The campaign will commence during the week of June 15th, as we move into National Mosquito Control Awareness Week, which is the week of June 21th – 27th 2020.

The ultimate purpose during this campaign is to reduce the menace of a Vector-Borne Disease by eliminating or preventing breeding grounds around areas where people live.

Our surrounding communities are at high risk for mosquito breeding grounds; therefore, households are encouraged to use this time to work together and remove old debris e.g. washing machines, refrigerators, stoves, tires, stagnant water, etc. following VROMI guidance in preparing for the hurricane season as well. Persons are also requested to remove all breeding sites make sure water storage containers are covered properly in and around their property. Let us be vigilant, and make use of the time at home due to COVID-19 and collectively work to prevent the spread of mosquito breeding and mosquito related diseases, as we are reminded to wash our hands and adhere to the 2-meter social distance rule.

The benefits of this campaign are to:

  • Improve neighborhood quality.
  • Reduce outbreak threats of Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and other dangerous mosquito borne diseases.
  • Have direct connection to mosquito control experts.
  • Breakdown barriers within the neighborhood.

Examples of what you can do to prevent mosquito breeding grounds are:

put plants in soil not water; drain water from pools when not in use, recycle used tires or keep them protected from rain, avoid stagnant water in pots or trays, keep septic tanks sealed properly, drain & dump any standing water, frequently scrub vases & containers to remove mosquito eggs, keep rain barrels covered tightly; just to mention a few.

CPS Vector Control Team will continue to monitor critical areas in public spaces that can serve as potential breeding grounds for mosquitos. For any mosquito related questions or concerns, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with supporting pictures and a contact number. Please also note that you can contact the vector team at (721) 542- 1122 / (721) 542- 1222 / (721) 542- 1322 / (721) 542- 1540 to report a mosquito nuisance or request assistance.

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Co-founder of Priceline.com Joins Islandpreneur Live 2020

SINT MAARTEN (GREAT BAY) - From June 24-26, 2020 Produce Wealth Revolution Agency (PWR Agency) will be hosting its first virtual summit, Islandpreneur Live 2020. This three (3) day virtual summit is designed to provide inspiration, best practices, and relevant information to empower Caribbean-based entrepreneurs to achieve business success digitally and become more resilient.

Over the past few months, to maintain physical distancing protocols and remain functional, all sectors of society offered virtual and digital services. Many people, not able to go outside due to 24-hour curfews, turned to the digital world to improve skills and supplement pay cuts or minimize the effects of unemployment. Still, there have been challenges with internet connectivity and receiving online payments.

Ideal for start-ups, freelancers, growth businesses, and social innovators, Islandpreneur Live 2020 focuses on how to achieve success digitally, through digital entrepreneurship and addresses some of these challenges.

This complimentary regional virtual event offers topics such as leveraging international markets, intellectual property, ideation, pivoting to digital, acceleration, raising capital, systems led leadership, digital payments, and finance will be shared by top level global experts.

These experts represent the following organizations such as the Florida Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association, IP Exchange Caribbean, Innovate Today, CX Pay, Minubia, The Business Connection, Altus, Curacao Tech Meetups, D & I Business Support Services, Antonio Media, Becomeablogger.com, Discover Montserrat, Island Impact, Beyond Capital Markets, Dutch Caribbean Securities Exchange, Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten and Global Entrepreneurship Network.

Attendees gain a better understanding on the mindset required to navigate these challenging times and succeed, adequately utilize best practices used to create products and services and then accelerate growth, discover possible solutions to overcome associated challenges, and learn from different perspectives on digital revolution and economic resilience. Unlike many other events, Islandpreneur Live 2020 has three keynotes during June 24-26. These keynote speakers are globally recognized and offer unique insights into creating a resilient future.

Leslie Samuel is one of the keynote speakers. Originally from St. Maarten, Leslie is the ‘man behind’ Become A Blogger. This company equips people all over the world to change the world by creating ‘authority blogs’. Leslie is the head of training for Social Media Examiner, the largest social media resource and publication in the world.

A former professor of Anatomy, Leslie has a unique way breaking down complex concepts into actionable easy to understand steps. Featured in notable publications such as Entrepreneur Magazine and Fast Company, is a regular TV guest on Fox 35, and speaks all over the world on social media and building online success to live a life of impact.

Natasha Chatlein is originally from Curacao and is based in Silicon Valley for the past decade. Armed with a deep network, Natasha has been a Silicon Valley insider since 2007 in a variety of roles, from software engineer at Microsoft to Innovation Advisor for European companies, investors, and governments.

She has organized and/or co-founded several bootcamps and missions to Silicon Valley. She founded BrainCoral Labs to leverage her network in bridging Silicon Valley and the Caribbean to raise the innovation and entrepreneurship quotient of the region.

Jeff Hoffman has been part of several well-known successful startups, including Priceline.com/Booking.com and uBid.com to name a few. Jeff is a founding board member of The Unreasonable Group whose startup companies have operations in 185 countries and have raised over $4 billion in funding.

He is also a bestselling author, Hollywood film producer, a producer of a Grammy winning jazz album, and executive producer of an Emmy Award winning television show. An international award-winning global entrepreneur and proven CEO featured on CNN, Time, and the Wallstreet Journal, Jeff is the Chairman of Global Entrepreneurship Network, which works with entrepreneurs in 180 countries.

Registration for Islandpreneur Live 2020 is required to get complimentary all access pass to the event during June 24-26. Organizers are grateful to all speakers and collaborative partners such as the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten, Optimize Curacao, Kerai Kreative, and TELEM Group of Companies for making this possible.

Entrepreneurs around the world are welcome to register. To do so, go to www.islandpreneur.com. For inquiries, kindly email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or whatsapp +1-721-523-1842.

PWR Leslie Samuel

Leslie Samuel - International Social Media expert and creator of www.becomeablogger.com 

 PWR TashaColourPhotoHenkRogers

 Natasha Chatlein - Founder, Brain Coral Labs & former software engineer, Mircosoft.

 

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Tzu Chi distributes 3,826 emergency food packages for COVID-19 relief

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation continued to ease the burden on households affected by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in St. Maarten by distributing 3,826 emergency food packages to vulnerable persons in the various communities from May 15 to May 30. 

At the end of the exercise, a total of 3,050 families were assisted which translated into about 9,315 recipients benefiting. A total of 264 volunteers were involved in this massive distribution effort. 

The emergency food packages distribution was possible in part thanks to the ninth container of Love Rice which arrived in St. Maarten from Tzu Chi’s head office Taiwan on May 13.  The container contained 2,000 bags of 10kg bags of rice lovingly donated to Tzu Chi St. Maarten to help the community. Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung said the container arrived at the right time to meet the needs of the community during the pandemic period. 

At the beginning of the emergency food distribution, each recipient family received a bag of 10kg rice as well as corn meal, oil, pasta, tomato paste, brown sugar, salt, canned vegetables, dried peas, Club Social biscuit, peanut butter, Chlorox, toilet paper, dish washing liquid, detergent, baking powder and flour. 

Due to the lock down, it was difficult for volunteers to handle large amounts of people and packages. The foundation had originally targeted 100 families for the initiative. However, the number of requests for assistance increased very fast and quadrupled to 400 families and then doubled to 800 families and grew even more, portraying the great need for assistance in the community. 

Due to the unexpected number of families in need, the quantity of items each package contained were reduced so that the foundation can assist more persons. 

The major distribution effort was held at Tzu Chi’s former office opposite Cake House Supermarket on L.B. Scott Road from 12:00pm to 4:00pm on designated days. 

Tzu Chi St. Maarten Commissioner Sandra Cheung thanked the police officers who assisted the foundation during the distribution periods as there had been a large number of persons coming for assistance. 

After the distribution ended at 4:00pm, many volunteers continued to work to take food packages to vulnerable persons who were unable to pick up their packages in person. 

Residents who received packages hailed from St. Peters, Cul De Sac, Marys Fancy, Bush Road, Cay Hill, Cay Bay, Cole Bay, Simpson Bay, Fort Willem, Sucker Garden including The Keys, Middle Region, and Dutch Quarter. 

Many recipients said they had been encountering tough times and were very grateful to receive the packages. 

Volunteers were also thankful for the opportunity to help instead of sitting at home worrying.  

Representative of the Cole Bay and Cay Bay Community Council Sharon Cangieter expressed gratitude to the Tzu Chi Foundation, its St. Maarten commissioner Sandra Cheung and its founder Master Cheng Yen for the assistance provided to help residents. “We received donations of bread and now we got a donation of 50 bags of various goods and we are more than grateful. And as much as Tzu Chi is doing, we cannot reach everyone. There are so many persons who are in need now because of the pandemic. We would like to help our people, but we don’t have funds and means to do so, so we really appreciate what you are doing - a little goes a long way,” Cangieter said.    

One volunteer involved in the initiative said he was more than happy to lend a helping hand. “I am happy for the opportunity to help those who are in need. It is really an honor to help and to show people that in life everything is not about money. In life, we need to show some love and be caring… I thank Tzu Chi Foundation for giving me an opportunity to volunteer,” the volunteer said. 

Another volunteer Elvison Adamus of the Key to Freedom Foundation said he too is grateful to have been able to assist. “I am grateful to Tzu Chi for the great help that they have been giving out to island of St. Maarten.… Everyone came together with love and compassion to help those who are in need even though, we ourselves are in need, but we look forward to helping others. This is just the beginning,” Adamus said. He thanked Tzu Chi Founder Master Cheng Yen for making it possible for the St. Maarten Tzu Chi Foundation to provide the assistance by sending the container of rice. He said however, that there is more need in the community and St. Maarten would be grateful for more assistance. 

“We are still in need. There are much more people who need help because there are many people who did not receive as yet,” he said adding that some persons would need monthly assistance as they will be in the same situation in months to come as they were in at the time of receiving the food packages. 

Cheung thanked all the volunteers, whose joint commitment and working tediously in sometimes very hot sun, helped get much needed food items to vulnerable persons in the community. She also thanked recipients for graciously accepting the emergency packages and expressed hope that it helped to alleviate their burdens during the time of crisis in the country.

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SSRP HELPDESK AVAILABLE AT THE GOVERNMENT BUILDING

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – The Ministry of Finance would like to remind all of the SSRP applicants for COVID-19 Unemployment Support that the Helpdesk at the Government is open on Monday through Friday to help with applications for individuals who are unable to upload the requisite documents.

Please come at 12:30 to receive a number and you will be assisted from 13:00 – 16:00. If you are having issues with uploading extra documents, please email them to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your full name and date of birth.

Individuals who have submitted their applications are asked to check their junk emails as correspondence between the applicant and SMDF may have been filtered to their junk email.

Please take a moment to read the criteria for the two stimulus supports being executed by The St. Maarten Development Fund. Applicants can only receive one type of stimulus support.

The criteria for COVID-19 Unemployment Support is:

  • You must have been working on the Dutch Side of Sint Maarten where you became unemployed because of COVID-19.
  • You can prove unemployment status as a result of COVID-19.
  • You have a valid local bank account number.
  • You have local ID or Dutch Passport.

The criteria for Income Support is:

  • Legally registered as a Sole Proprietor or have a permit for public vending (of any kind) or public transportation.
  • You do not have employees and you are not a part of payroll.
  • You have updated Tax Declaration Forms.
  • You have a valid local bank account number.

The deadline for both Payroll Support and Income Support has been extended to June 22nd. Please apply as soon as possible and avoid delays in payment. For all updates and information regarding the SSRP, please visit our website at www.ssrp.sx.

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"Stop littering our beaches," says St. Maarten Tourism Bureau

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) –The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau urges beachgoers to keep beaches clean and to adhere to the guidelines outlined on the signs present on beaches. These guidelines exist to educate beachgoers about the code of conduct when visiting a beach. 

The beachgoers must ensure that all areas are left clean by the proper disposal of litter. In the absence of trash bins, beachgoers are encouraged to take trash with them until the next available bin. Sanctions will be levied for persons caught littering on the beach. 

Litterers are not only damaging our own natural resources but also jeopardizing the country’s economic recovery by polluting and destroying the very thing that attracts tourism in the first place: a clean, beautiful Caribbean beach.

While visiting the beach, the public is reminded to follow the recommendations for good hygiene and social distancing to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

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Tourism Bureau partners with stakeholders to launch ‘Rediscover St. Maarten’

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau, SHTA, Chamber of Commerce, Small Properties & Villas, and United Tour Operators Foundation collaborates to launch the 'Rediscover St Maarten’ campaign. The campaign aims to encourage residents to take advantage of hotel specials for staycations and to engage in activities on the island from participating entities.

The focus is on the "re-discovery" of St. Maarten by encouraging our residents to explore and experience St. Maarten again. The St. Maarten Tourism Bureau has recognized the need to stimulate economic activity in the hospitality sector and to promote local culture and products. In addition, alternative options are created for our residents who may have had to cancel summer travel due to COVID-19.

Leisure activity partners and hotels such as Alicia's Inn, Coral Beach Club, L'Esperance Hotel, Oyster Bay Beach Resort, Port de Plaisance Resort, Simpson Bay Resort, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort & Casino will be featured on the St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Facebook page. For a full listing of hotels and their offers, visit shta.com/staycation. If hotels and businesses would like to participate, please contact the Tourism Bureau at +1721-549-0200 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Also, partnered to promote domestic vacationing is FUN Miles. Fun Miles is going to run a summer campaign promoting staycations and themed 'FUNcation!'. The Fun Miles' goal is to inspire, stimulate, and incentivize our 5.000+ active cardholders on St. Maarten to spend their vacation on the island and have a FUN! time. Additional information may be requested by calling Fun Miles customer service at tel. 543-3301, visiting www.funmiles.net or going to facebook.com/fun miles.

“Having a holiday or a day trip that someone experiences in their own country create pleasure and pride. I encourage you to take advantage of these great offers to rediscover your island, and take photos and create short videos and share with the world,” concluded St. Maarten Tourism Bureau Director May-Ling Chun.

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Minister of Justice Richardson to Crack Down on Illegal Immigration

SINT MAARTEN (POND ISLAND) - Minister of Justice Anna E. Richardson would like to inform the general public that the Immigration laws of Sint Maarten will be strictly enforced in the coming weeks and months, the minister said in a media statement on Wednesday.

Persons who currently reside in Sint Maarten without the legal documentation are advised to take this as a warning and should start making the necessary provisions to voluntarily leave the country or run the risk of getting detained and deported to their country of origin.

The Landsverordening Toelating en Uitzetting (LTU), in English, "National Ordinance of Admissions and Expulsions" regulates the revocation of residence permits for persons who no longer meet the conditions under which their residence permit was granted and the revocation of permanent resident permits for persons who live abroad. As such, the Immigration and Border Protection Services will be collaborating with the Ministry of VSA and the Civil Registry Department to ensure that persons who are in possession of work and residence permits still meet the conditions of which they have acquired.

After the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017, many undocumented persons decided to remain on the island, while at the same time, others migrated to the island without the proper documentation in place. With an already weakened and still recovering economy, on top of the most recent, major blow caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, job loss on St. Maarten is growing exponentially and will inevitably be the case moving forward, with numerous businesses having to close their doors or scale down their operations.

Persons without an income could possibly resort to a life of crime in order to fend for themselves and their families. Though Sint Maarten is the friendly island and welcomes all visitors, illegal activities will no longer be tolerated. As such, the first step will be the removal of our overstayed guests in order to better handle our internal affairs. Minister Richardson has taken the decision to temporarily suspend the process for first-time applicants for residence permits (exemptions will be made for persons holding critical positions), but will undergo strict scrutiny before being granted a residence permit. Also temporarily suspended are the granting of extensions for nonimmigrant stays, visas for pleasure purposes and the process of having a guarantor.

In the coming weeks, the Ministry of Justice will be implementing a restrictive immigration policy. The intention of the restrictive policy is to make Sint Maarten less vulnerable for illegal immigration. While persons enter the country via legal ports of entry, the common practice of over-staying ones tourist visit or visa, often translates into illegal immigration. This practice has negatively impacted our economic, social and justice systems, hence the aggressive approach by the Minister of Justice in addressing this situation. Controls will be intensified on land and sea as multidisciplinary teams consisting of local law enforcement agencies and other various ministries will be initiated. The Minister also plans to sit down with the French authorities in the near future to establish a better working relationship and explore the possibilities of strengthening border controls as a collective body.

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