On January 27, 2022, the Immigration and Border Protection Services (IBP), the Sint Maarten Police Force (KPSM) and Customs Sint Maarten carried out successful joint controls in the Philipsburg area together with the Coast Guard and the Inspectorates of TEATT and VSA. This collaboration was initiated by IBP as the department has been receiving numerous complaints about “barkers” harassing tourists. The areas controlled included the Boardwalk from Walter Plantz Square up until Green House Restaurant, Front Street and Back Street.
Barkers usually linger at the beach or stand outside of stores, bars, and restaurant businesses, to entice tourists with various types of offers in multiple languages. This activity is frowned upon by residents and the authorities and leaves tourists likely to walk away with an unfavorable impression of Philipsburg. The joint effort was also planned to execute overall controls for residence and work permits, illegal substances and business licenses.
During the controls, some stores were checked for their proper paperwork and several fines were issued. Though no arrests were made, a total of 20 persons were brought in for further investigations. Four persons were released after investigating; one Guyanese with valid paper for the Dutch side, two French who were handed over to the SPAF (French immigration), one Jamaican with French residency, and one Dominican who was a mental patient and was placed in her mother’s custody under meldplicht, and instructed to arrange her status for the country. The other 16 persons will remain in custody as they are currently facing deportation.
“The community on the Boardwalk praised the groups for their joint effort and welcome such actions on a more regular basis,” stated Customs Sint Maarten Management Team Member Franklin Bernadina.
“On behalf of IBP, I’d like to thank KPSM, Customs Sint Maarten, our Coast Guard as well as the Inspectorates of TEATT and VSA for their cooperation and positive contribution in carrying out this operation. Protecting the country’s image is a crucial task we remain committed to. For this reason, the controls will continue weekly until this inappropriate behavior is eliminated,” concluded IBP Division Head Ryan Peterson.