Pregnant women, newborn children caught in registration rush

As thousands of Venezuelan migrants rush to register ahead of Friday's deadline, there were calls for more compassion to be shown toward newborn babies and pregnant women who were being pushed to the back of the line in the humid weather.

Mothers with babies just weeks old were told at about 9 am that there were 350 migrants inside the Achievors Banquet Hall in Duncan Village, San Fernando waiting to be registered as part of government's amnesty programme.

Guardian Media was told that when law enforcement officers overseeing the registration asked for the pregnant women and babies to be accommodated, immigration personnel responded by saying "they were pregnant when they were coming on the boat."

Some police officers and citizens who were there expressed outrage as they saw a pregnant Maria Ramirez almost topple over while standing on a hill.

Ramirez, who has a six-year-old daughter is expected to deliver on Sunday.

Her husband Shawn James said that with her swollen feet, doctors advised her not to stand for long periods.

When they went to officials to get registered, they told her to return after lunch.

"They told us that people who came before with the white paper, they are now dealing with them. It is a first come, first serve basis. They told us to pass back lunch time around 1 pm or 2 pm so they will give us a number to come back Thursday, " James said.

However, there were persons with numbers who have been showing up for days and had not been registered.

A San Fernando woman told Guardian Media that her brother, who is a Catholic priest in Arima, took in 42 Venezuelans.

Among them were two pregnant women who came in December.

Both had babies born in the last two weeks.

"My brother brought down the baby daddy and husband here last night to get in line. The two mothers stayed with me in San Fernando but their husbands did not get numbers. They only gave out a certain amount of numbers to those who were here last night. The women came this morning with their babies and so far the officials told me they have 350 people in there that were inside yesterday and they have 1500 outside so the women will have to wait."

Ahurolys Silva, who came bearing a C-Section scar, tried her best to shade her two-week-old daughter Carla from the heat.

With several children fainting and migrants falling ill in the sweltering weather on Tuesday, Silva said she developed a fever and had to return home.

At midnight Tuesday, there were scores of migrants camped along the SS Erin Road on Duncan Village, hoping to get ahead of the process.

With National Security Minister Stuart Young announcing earlier that day that the deadline will not be extended, there was some anxiety among the migrants.

A few of them expressed concern on whether they would get the chance to register.

As the crowd grew, some migrants got impatient and tried to get ahead of the line but police kept the registration in order.

 - by Kevon Felmine

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