Vincentians in the United States who qualify are being encouraged to become U.S. citizens to guard against deportation and to facilitate greater participation in the decision-making process.
The encouragement came from Kingstown’s ambassador to Washington, La Celia Prince, on Saturday at the annual town hall meeting with Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in New York.
“Now there are many of you who are residents of the United States who are entitled to citizenship and I know the Consul General has encouraged you if you are entitled to citizenship to go the extra length.
“We don’t want to get into your business as such or to tell you how to run your lives but we want to encourage you to empower yourselves through citizenship,” Prince said.
“There are many instances where we have had to deal with or we see families being separated because of deportation. It is a very real issue here, people who have been here for years, but, for whatever reason have run afoul of the law and have had to be deported,” she further said.
Prince noted that unlike U.S. citizens, residents can be deported.
“If you are a resident and you run afoul of the law, you can be expelled from the country. So, empower yourselves, go the extra mile,” she said.
“Empowering yourselves also means that you have a stake in the country, you have a voice … because you can make your voice heard through the power of the vote.
“There are many things that are happening on Capitol Hill, legislation that is being crafted which would affect your lives as well as St. Vincent and the Grenadines, such as immigration reform, such as the financial action task force legislation that would actually tax your savings overseas.
“But when you have the power of the vote, you can go to your congressperson and let your voice be heard. So we advice you to consider these words of advice from us so that you can empower yourselves and thereby empower St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Prince said.