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By NAN Contributor

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Aug. 24, 2018: With a forecast of four billion barrels off Guyana’s Atlantic economic zone, seven anti-immigration U.S. Republican congressmen, along with two Democrats, quietly landed in the South American CARICOM nation on Wednesday.

The seven Republicans were Reps. Bob Goodlatte, John Rutherford, Mark Sanford, John Curtis, Todd Rokita, Richard Hudson and Darrell Issa while Democratic Congressmembers Steve Cohen and Scott Peters rounded out the nine-member congressional delegation.

Guyana Stabroek News reports indicate they arrived after noon Wednesday and were expected to leave the country Thursday after holding meetings including with Guyana Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman.

The paper said neither the government nor the US embassy made any details on the visit public or the reasons for the visit and reporters were barred from asking members of the delegation questions.

However, the paper claimed the visit was to examine the current refugee crisis spawned by the situation in Venezuela and how it can impact the Caribbean region and neighboring states.

None of the lawmakers made any public disclosure of the trip on their website or social media.

Goodlatte, a Republican of Virginia’s 6th Congressional District, is chair of the powerful House Committee on the Judiciary and is a hardline immigration proponent who co-introduced the Criminal Alien Gang Member Removal Act.

Congressman John Rutherford, also a Republican, represents Florida’s 4th congressional district and supports increased border security and immigration reform. He says “ignoring illegal immigration is foolish, dangerous, and erodes public and international confidence in our rule of law.”

Congressman Mark Sandford, Republican of South Carolina’s 1st district, has portrayed himself as an advocate of Trump’s biggest hot-button issue: building a border wall.

Congressman John Curtis, Republican of Utah’s 3rd district, says he favors national security with broad immigration reform while Congressman Todd Rokita, Republican of Indiana’s 4th District, wants to imprison sanctuary city officials who help undocumented immigrants; to build the wall and opposes a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has also called for an end to the Robert Mueller probe.

Congressman Richard Hudson, Republican of North Carolina’s 8th congressional district, says he puts border security before any effective immigration reform policy while Congressman Darrel Issa, Republican of California’s 49th congressional district and Chair of the House Oversight Committee, has consistently opposed attempts to ease restrictions on illegal immigration, arguing that it provides amnesty for illegal immigrants.

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Congressmembers Cohen represents Tennessee’s 9th congressional district and has been a big proponent of providing lawyers and evidence for children being deported by the US government while Congressman Peters represents California’s 52nd congressional district and has continually called for the House to debate and pass comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform.

Sanford, Goodlatte and Issa won’t be returning to the House in November as Sandford recently lost the primary race in South Carolina to fellow Republican Katie Arrington while Issa retired in January of this year and Goodlatte announced his retirement last year.

Guyana’s Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, said last week, the team would have been on a familiarization and it would be short. He noted then that the visit “signals a very clear indication of Guyana’s importance on the international scene.”

The visit came on the heels of the New York Times’ ’20 Billion Questions For Guyana’ article that left many Guyanese outraged over the writer’s description of the South American CARICOM nation as  a “watery wilderness” with “musty clapboard towns,” “only three paved highways” and “a few dirt roads between villages” and where “children in remote areas go to school in dugout canoes and play naked in the muggy heat.”

Clifford Krauss, the Times’ national energy business correspondent based in Houston, Texas, also angered many by writing that: “A vast majority of college-educated youths emigrate to the United States or Canada, while those who stay behind experience high rates of H.I.V. infection, crime and suicide.”

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