Leaders of the 15-nation Caribbean Community have expressed concern that US President Donald Trump's immigration policies could lead to a slowdown in travel to a region dependent on tourism.
As Caribbean leaders wrapped up their mid-term summit in Guyana's capital city Georgetown yesterday, incoming Caricom Chairman Keith Mitchell -- prime minister of Grenada -- said the trade bloc has adopted a "wait-and-see attitude" with respect to America's evolving migration policy and how it affects the region's vital tourism industry.
"We must obviously be concerned with the recent issue related to immigration, and the impact it will have on our citizens and... on tourism," Mitchell told a news conference at the close of the two-day summit, the first since President Trump took office.
Millions of Caribbean nationals live in the United State as permanent residents, naturalised citizens or illegal aliens.
Many travel regularly to their home countries, while others send remittances totaling hundreds of millions of dollars each year to relatives who remain in the Caribbean.
Mitchell said he understands the reluctance of some Caribbean residents in the US not to leave the country.
Trump's attempted crackdown on refugees and immigrants from some majority Muslim countries has raised concerns that he may try to impose harsher travel restrictions on them as well.
"The uncertainty is there so clearly that has to be settled," said the Grenadian leader, who once lived in the US for 14 years.
Mitchell said he hoped that the US Congress would temper Trump's executive actions on immigration.
"You can't ignore the voices of the people of the United States, so I expect that this thing has to settle -- the uncertainty cannot continue," Mitchell said.
"I believe when the dust is settled, things must improve, because our borders are too close to the United States for them to risk uncertainty or problems in our direction," he said.
Trump said on Thursday he will announce a new executive order on immigration next week, after his original, much-criticised travel ban was blocked by US courts.
The January 27 order was widely criticised as amounting to a ban on Muslims, and also for being rolled out sloppily -- with virtually no warning to the public or preparation of the agencies tasked with enforcing it.