Jamaicans living in the United States have just as much love for the little island in the Caribbean Sea as Jamaicans who have migrated to the commonwealth countries of Canada and the United Kingdom.
Jamaica has a nation has not returned the love to her citizens who are living in the United States however, at least not as equally as those in the commonwealth nations.
Today, Jamaicans who are living in Canada and the United Kingdom are allowed to sit in parliament but Jamaicans living in the United States are not allowed to. Opposition Leader, Dr. Peter Phillips, thinks that it is silly to be that way and he wants there to be a change to it.
“That’s a relic of the world of 1962 and, quite frankly, it needs to be adjusted. But it requires a national discourse here,” Dr. Phillips said.
“Certainly, it is something that ought to be done because a critical part of Jamaica resides in the United States, and they are no less Jamaican in love of the country than those who are above in Canada or the UK,” he added.
“We have to strengthen appropriate agencies of Government, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to ensure that the significance of the Diaspora is not just to be seen in the conference that we hold every two years, but mores in a continuing engagement with the Diaspora community, including exploring how the Diaspora can be embedded in the national decision-making institutions of the country,” he continued.
Dr. Phillips has very solid ground to stand on in this regard. In a 2016 study conducted by Price Waterhouse Cooper, Jamaicans living in the United States contribute to the Jamaican economy at an alarming rate higher than those living in Canada and the United Kingdom, even though the English pound is stronger than the U.S. dollar. In fact, both Western Union and MoneyGram said more money is wired to Jamaica from the United States each year than from the United Kingdom and Canada combined. With this kind of financial contributions to the island, it is only fair that Jamaicans in the United States be given the same rights as Jamaicans in Canada and the United Kingdom.
In the meantime, noting that even as remittance plays a significant role in the injection of foreign exchange into the country, Dr. Phillips, who is the People’s National Party President, encouraged more emphasis on investment by Jamaicans living overseas.
“I would like to see moves from remittance to investment flows in a much greater degree, because I consider the Diaspora community to be a vital source of investment capital that can lift the Caribbean. And, at the same time, we in Jamaica need to recognize, and the rest of the Caribbean, that if we could see the Diaspora community as an extension of our domestic market for locally produced goods, it could make a tremendous difference to our productive capacity, our productivity, our earnings, and the scale of wealth in our country. And this requires an engagement,” Dr. Phillips stated.
He added that a future PNP Administration would eliminate the red tape which stifles charitable donations from Jamaicans abroad, as well as embrace the expertise of Jamaicans living overseas.
“And one of the ways to do this as we do for certifiable, bona fide, commercial organizations is to register organizations which are trustworthy and allow them to bring in the hospital equipment, the school equipment and the other things, without having to endure the tribulations and privations of excessively cumbersome customs procedures,” Dr. Phillips noted.
He further stated: “I believe it is also appropriate now that we have Jamaican immigration recognize the fact of dual nationality on the part of Jamaicans; most passports record where you were born. And when the Jamaican of dual nationality comes in they should be recognized as being Jamaican and be treated as an accepted part of the Jamaican community.”