Escaping persecution, Dom Mayeul de Caigny and Dom Hugh van der Sanden fled the monastery of São Bento in Bahia, in 1912. They found refuge in a cocoa estate in Trinidad’s northern range 4,300 feet above sea level. Drowning in despair, they recalled the sorrow of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who suffered the anxieties and uncertainties of flight and exile into detached and mysterious Egypt, taking with her an infant threatened with death by Herod. In effect, this made Jesus stateless and an undocumented youth. The monastics therefore decided to dedicate their new abbey to Mary under the title of “Our Lady of Exile, Mt. St. Benedict” as the account from the Gospel of Matthew reminded them of their own flight from Bahia to Tunapuna.

Donald Trump explored the cancellation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA grants temporary work permits and lawful immigration presence to young illegal immigrants who arrived in the US as children. As much as 886,814 of these young illegal immigrants received DACA since Barack Obama created the program through executive action on June 15, 2012.

A potential DACA beneficiary is called a DREAMer. The term derives from the 2001 “Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act”. The Supreme Court blocked the Trump administration from going ahead with its plan, announced in 2017, to end the DACA initiative that protects young immigrants known as Dreamers from deportation. The ruling did not address the merits of the program or the decision to end it; the court ruled only on whether the administration had acted lawfully in trying. The ruling of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. was a significant setback for Mr. Trump, who had promised in his election campaign to “immediately terminate” the program.

In Tel Aviv there are over 34, 000 asylum seekers. But Israel considers anyone who breaches border control to be an “infiltrator”. An unshakable Bolivarian Armada of fishing boats are moored off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago. We are besieged.  Economic migrants evade the scrutiny of border control and land without a visa entry endorsed in their passports. They enter by “irregular means” in Brickfield, Grande Rivière, Cedros, Sans Souci, Quinam, Los Iros and Beach Camp in Palo Seco.

Inside the Oropouche lagoon they navigate the ancient canals and ravines of the Gondineau River that were engineered by a French colonist who transported canes to his “Usine” (mill) where he manufactured sugar that he carted to “Embacadere” (pier) for onward delivery to market by ocean freight. Other French planters designed comparable waterways at the opposite end of the creek along the Blazini river where a tramway from La Fortune, Bien Venue and the Beausejour estates used their own “Embacadere” for inward and outward movement of sugar, dry goods and equipment. Now these idle watercourses add nothing to our GDP or balance of trade.

Instead, those who are coming, and those who are being brought, have repurposed the brackish brooks, antique piers and desolate beaches to “evade immigration scrutiny” (22 (1) (i), (11 (a), 18.1,). They rendezvous with purveyors of Reception necessities that ring-fence then inside a safe harbour against the Rule of Law and the penalties of incarceration and fines that correspond with immigration irregularity (Section 40 (a)). In actuality, some may be the victims of human smugglers. Others are transported to be trafficked within the borders of Trinidad. If there is no capacity at a detention facility some may be placed on an Order of Supervision and released.

It is only after they benefit from Reception privileges that the state apparatus aided by Interpol using a criminal databases of fingerprints, DNA profiles and facial images may discover the spot-on identity of some refugees and asylum seekers. It is only then that district medical officers may discover that the arrival has introduced new vector diseases like Chagas, that arrivals have reintroduce suppressed diseases like Malaria, that veterinarians diagnose farm animals with novel infections, that the police may meet face to face for the first time with the fearless overlords of the underworld.  The borders of both countries are now closed. So anyone leaving Venezuela without an exemption during the COVID-19 pandemic and those entering Trinidad or Tobago without an exemption have committed offences in two jurisdictions.

The Venezuelan economy shrank 27.3% in Q1 2019 over the same period in 2018 (Q4 2018: -20.4% year-on-year). Manufacturing output more than halved in annual terms and mining production fell more than one-third year-on-year. Despite frequent hikes to the minimum wage, runaway inflation—largely fuelled by exchange rate misalignments—has significantly eroded the purchasing power of households, with high unemployment further curbing spending.

The Venezuelan dual economy is characterized by few persons with unlimited access to U.S. bank notes and those who live in the “World of the Bolivar”, the domestic currency, which has no value. Venezuela’s economic crisis has brought many Venezuelans back to seashore villages. The penniless stay alive on “the feel” they have developed about the ocean and its surroundings. These subsistence economies have developed in many parts of present day Venezuela where cash and credit cards are non-existent.