The attorneys from Gibson and Associates presented a letter from the Minister of Justice to the court where the Minister gave clarity on the BTA extension process. The Minister in his letter said that based on Article 24 of the constitution anyone can petition government but that does not mean their request will be granted.
Persons who submitted the request for the first time during the extension period and remained on the island for a response has no legal basis neither a guarantee to reside on the island even though they may be in possession of BTA receipt. The BTA procedure from November 24 to December 30th 2010 was only meant for extension of their BTA permits confirmed the Minister in his letter to the court.
The case on Monday involved a national of the Dominican Republic who was deported in January 2011 even though he was in possession of a BTA receipt. The judge asked the Minister to clarify if persons were allowed to apply for the first time during the extension process and if those applicants were allowed to remain on St. Maarten as their applications are being processed. The judge also asked the Minister to provide him with the minutes of parliament and what exactly he told parliament about the BTA extension procedure. The Minister informed the judge that he does not have the minutes of parliament and that it is in parliament's possession.
Gibson and Associates said that it was not possible for anyone to submit an application for a BTA permit during the extension process but persons could in fact petition government based on Article 24 of the constitution. The lawyers did not say if first time applicants could have applied elsewhere during that same period.
Based on what was said in the courts on Monday persons who submitted their applications for the first time last year will not be receiving any permits and if caught by immigration they will be deported. The Minister's lawyers pointed out to the court that the only types of forms that were available during the extension period were "extension forms" which the BTA staff used to process first time applications as well as the extensions.
Attorney at law Denicio Brison pleaded with the court to grant his client a more extensive interpretation of the Minister's letter which he said was not clear enough. The judge will render his verdict on June 27th.