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Jamaica’s ambassador to the United States, Audrey Marks, has called on eligible members of the Jamaican iaspora to become citizens of the United States in order to fully participate in the democratic process of their adopted home.

She was addressing a forum hosted by the Latin American Centre, Atlantic Council on the Contribution of Jamaican/Caribbean Diaspora to US- Caribbean ties, on Thursday.

“I want to urge Jamaicans here in the diaspora to become citizens, as many Jamaicans living in the US for 20, 30, 40 years and are not citizens because they don’t want to give up their Jamaican passport. But I am assuring them that Jamaica recognises dual citizenship, and so they can have both a Jamaican, as well as a United States passport.”

Ambassador Marks noted that in becoming a citizen, they’ll be able to participate in all areas of public life fully as a citizen of the United States including voting. And in so doing, help to influence policy direction.

The ambassador pointed out that while there are many Caribbean diaspora organizations doing a lot of work in their communities, more could be done if they worked together in a more cohesive manner.

“There is no debating that Caribbean Americans play multiple roles as public servants, investors, healthcare providers, educators, philanthropists, lobbyists, marketers and consumers in their adopted country. More than one million first-generation Jamaicans and over three million people of Jamaican heritage reside in the United States alone.

“The truth is that there are more Jamaicans residing outside of the island than the approximately three million who live there. Jamaica has the third highest diaspora population among Caribbean islands (behind the Dominican Republic and Cuba) with particularly large numbers of skilled emigrants among the ranks living abroad. This is a clear indication that Jamaicans in the diaspora are a force for change and transformation,” she declared.

Ambassador Marks said Jamaicans living in the United States had displayed exceptional leadership abilities in US politics noting that “we have over 40 Jamaican Americans in the legislature in the New York, New Jersey Connecticut Tri-State area; we have 20 Jamaican Americans in Florida involved as representatives from the county to the state level; we also have Jamaicans in leadership at the federal level, with six Jamaican-Americans in Congress and two Jamaican-Americans in the Cabinet at the White House and many others in the Biden-Harris administration.

“I am so pleased and proud of how so many Jamaicans are getting involved in participating in policymaking in the United States. This will augur well for them and their children’s future, and because of their background will also make them more aware of the need to continue strengthening the ties between the United States and Jamaica and by extension, the Caribbean.”

In commenting on the recently concluded Summit of the Americas, Ambassador Marks said, “Jamaica is committed to the Summit of the Americas process and the mandates emanating from the process. We believe that the Ninth Summit of the Americas constitutes an opportunity to create a new blueprint for regional cooperation. Priority areas for Jamaica include food and energy security, digital transformation, the urgent need for climate financing and human capital and skills development, bearing in mind the skills gap in the region.”