BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, July 7, 2023 (SKNIS) – The St. Kitts and Nevis Immigration Department hosted a banquet and awards ceremony for its officers on Thursday (July 6) evening in celebration of its 5th anniversary as an independent department.
On July 1, 2018, the St. Kitts and Nevis Immigration Department was given full autonomy when it was officially separated from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
Chief Immigration Officer, Mr. Sheldon Jeffers, while delivering remarks to mark the occasion, stated that the department has performed exceptionally well as an independent department in helping to safeguard the nation’s borders, both at the air and seaports.
“As law enforcement officers, we are the gatekeepers of the Federation. We are responsible for the control of entry into, transit through and the departure of persons traveling by air or sea. We are the added arm of law enforcement, and that includes the Police, the Defence Force, Customs etcetera and so…we play a critical role in the whole national security construct,” Chief Immigration Officer Jeffers said.
He added, “We have a civic responsibility not only to welcome and facilitate entry into the Federation by those who are beneficial to the country either as tourists, work permit holders, students or those seeking investment opportunities but also to detect, to prevent and to protect the nation against environmental threats like COVID, human trafficking, smuggling and other transnational crimes which do require a great deal of balancing.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Ms. Cecile Hull brought special greetings to the immigration officers on behalf of Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, the Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew.
In her brief remarks, Permanent Secretary Hull described the Immigration Department as one of the most important arms of the nation’s border protection teams.
Ms. Hull noted, “The work done by you and your department should never be taken lightly nor should we regard it in such a manner. Our nation depends heavily on your vigilance, precision and diligence to maintain a high level of security at and within our border. Our tourism industry and our livelihoods it sustains lean heavily on our ability to repeatedly and consistently present the very best to the visiting world.”
“At this juncture, the Immigration Department is on the cusp of enhancing its delivery of services to our citizens, residents and visitors of St. Kitts and Nevis,” the permanent secretary said.
PS Hull also used the occasion to commend the first Chief Immigration Officer since civilianizing the department, Ms. Merclyn Hughes “for her steady leadership of the department over the years, as the first holder of the office and as the first woman Chief.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis Immigration Department currently consists of fifty-six (56) immigration officers; 42 on St. Kitts and 14 on Nevis.
The 5th-anniversary banquet was held at the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions (CUNA) Conference Room.