By Prince Moore
Minister of National Security Dr. Horace Chang is maintaining that not all Haitians who arrive illegally in Jamaica are refugees.
His comment follows backlash from some attorneys to the government's decision to send home Haitians without allowing them access to an attorney.
Attorney and founder of Freedom Imagnaries Malene Alleyne has been calling for the government to suspend forced returns of Haitians without due process.
But Dr. Chang said the latest set of nine Haitians who arrived in Portland by boat over a week ago, were not asylum seekers.
"I wouldn't consider them refugees. They arrived with connection here....When we heard of their landing, they were intercepted by security forces en route to Montego Bay with a local guide and therefore had preparation made here for their reception. They were not leaving Haiti in terms of fear. They were coming to the country in an organised group. And when they come like that, we treat them as migrants, illegal migrants.
"And therefore, once they are reviewed and processed, we can send them back as quickly as we can, as we have done [and] as we do at airports; when people come to the airport without any proper documentation, they send back on the next flight," he sought to explain.
Dr. Chang was speaking Tuesday on Radio Jamaica's Beyond the Headlines.