The government will next year, declare an amnesty to allow up to 20,000 persons living on the island illegally to regularize their status.
The amnesty is to last for a year.
National Security Minister Robert Montague made the disclosure at the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency’s (PICA) citizen swearing-in ceremony, which saw 47 men, women and children presented with official documents identifying them as naturalised Jamaican citizens.
The 47 were part of a total of 167 persons who had received such status – the largest number at one time. Nearly 30,000 persons had been granted citizenship since the start of 2017.
Montague welcomed the new naturalised Jamaicans on behalf of the Jamaican Government and outlined the privileges and responsibilities that came with their adoption of the island as their homeland.
“Being a Jamaican citizen is an exceptional honour and while you have been granted that right, nearly 2,000 persons were deported from our island last year, while about 537 were refused entry to this country. So as Jamaicans we expect you take this new status seriously,” Minister Montague said.
He implored them to register to vote, pay their taxes, engage in community activities and use their various skills and talents to help build the country.
In his remarks, Montague stated that the ceremony was a commemoration of the Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency’s 10 years of service. However, this was the first time that the Agency had hosted a ceremony of this kind.
Also speaking at the swearing in ceremony, Andrew Wynter, CEO of PICA noted that each year about 3,000 persons were granted Jamaican citizenship. According to Wynter, when persons from another country decide to become citizens of Jamaica, it speaks to the love and commitment they have for the island.