A 17-year-old American was denied entry into Trinidad and Tobago to visit his Trinidadian mom because his father and brother are currently listed as terrorists in the US and Trinidad.
High Court Judge Justice Ricky Rahim dismissed the application to have the court review a decision by the immigration department to issue a rejection notice without a special inquiry. Attorneys for the teen also sought an interim application to compel the chief immigration officer to hold the inquiry.
The US family court had given the teenager permission to visit his mother for two months.
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In his ruling, Justice Rahim said the teenager had the opportunity to let the immigration officer know he wanted to challenge the rejection notice since the procedure is set out on the order. He said if he had done so, it would have led to the special inquiry he wanted and also given him an opportunity to provide further proof he was entitled to enter the country.
But on Friday, Justice Rahim said it was in the teen’s interest that the “process of return not be unreasonably delayed so that the trauma of the event may be brought to an end sooner (rather) than later.”
He also suggested the immigration division allows the boy a supervised visit with his mother before he leaves the island, even as he agreed that the teenager had not successfully argued he was a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago by descent.
The judge also made reference to the boy’s travel to Syria at the age of seven and the “not so subtle inference that he is also trained in or participated in warfare and terrorism,” even as he maintained that this had no bearing on the denial of entry.
“As far as the court is concerned, the relevance of the information lies more…with the hardship and indescribable long-lasting trauma that the minor must have endured having been plucked from normal living at the age of seven and placed in a country ravaged by a war in which he may have been made to participate.
The court heard that the boy had traveled to Syria with his father and siblings in 2015, aged seven, and when the father and an older brother were captured in 2019, they were returned to the US, where the latter two were convicted and jailed.
The teenager was put in foster care and his mother was deported to Trinidad and Tobago.
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