A Guyanese mother’s hope of seeing her three daughters again is pinned to the Ministry of National Security pardoning her breach of this country’s immigration laws and overstaying in T&T.
The mother, Shaneza Angela has not seen her children—Mikayla, seven; Attia, five; or two-year-old Shania since June 2015, when the youngest was pulled out of her arms at the Piarco International Airport and Angela was sent back to Guyana.
Angela first came to Trinidad when she was 18, intending to go to school and hopefully find work.
Angela took a flight to Trinidad and stayed with a relative in Charlieville, Chaguanas.
“When I came I tried to rewrite maths and English but couldn’t afford it because it was more expensive in Trinidad than at home.”
Instead, Angela got job at a supermarket near where she lived in Charlieville, packing shelves.
In 2008, Angela met a man and six months later, got pregnant with her first daughter, who she gave birth to on October 31.
She said after the birth of her daughter she started experiencing problems with her husband’s relatives. She said by that time she had already overstayed in T&T and she and her boyfriend decided to get married.
Things did not go as planned because Angela was now living illegally in T&T.
She said she called her parents and told them she wanted to return home and her mother purchased two one-way tickets for Angela and her daughter.
In January, Angela found out she was pregnant with her second child and told her boyfriend, who flew to Guyana in mid-January.
“We talked and he said he wasn’t ready for another child, but my parents in Guyana said no to an abortion. After two weeks, he went back to Trinidad. In March I tried to re-enter Trinidad, but because I overstayed, they said they could not allow me entry to the country. I said I would stay in Guyana and raise the two children.”
Angela’s boyfriend at the time flew back to Guyana and the two got married so she could return.
On returning, they started the process to gain permanent residency for Angela so the family could stay together.
She gave birth to her second daughter in July 2011.
“We were going through the process for permanent residency but in 2012 I had problems with his mother, we moved out and went to live on our own. At first things were a little tough. I started working and it got easier.
“In earlier 2013, problems started again and by November 2013 I found out he withdrew himself from my residency process.”
It was around this time that Angela found out she was pregnant with her third child.
She said after the birth of her third child her husband told her he wanted her to move out. He kept the two older girls and she kept the baby.
“I went to a relative’s house first and after that a family friend decided to give me a room. I stayed there and kept thinking about my two girls.
It was not long before Angela started experiencing financial troubles. In October 2014, she had problems paying rent and had to move.
One weekend, she said, her husband took the two older children and did not bring them back.
The matter ended up in court and Angela and her husband eventually signed a mediation agreement with 47 points, including permission for Angela to take the youngest child to Guyana for two weeks.
It was when returning from this trip she was met with immigration officers who took her and baby Shania to the detention centre on Henry Street.
She said her husband came to the centre, took Shania from her arms and left, while she was put on a plane to Guyana.
“How can you take my daughter away from me?”
Her husband, who preferred to remain anonymous, said while he remembered her crying, he had had no choice but to take the baby after being contacted by Immigration Division.
In a telephone interview, he said he had no problem with her returning to the country or seeing her children as he was prepared to adhere to the mediation agreement.
“I don’t want any part in her returning though. She has to do that on her own.”