EDITOR, The Tribune. I HAVE no doubt that your paper will be bombarded with letters and comments regarding the Haitian President's recent "rally" held in Nassau reportedly with hundreds/thousands of Haitians in attendance. While the pundits "pun" and the reactionaries react, I trust you will allow me space in your valuable column to comment on this festering problem of illegal immigration. Mr Martelly was reportedly quoted to have said, "...I have reports that kids who are born here and who have to wait until they turn 18 to choose whether they will become Haitian or Bahamian. Until they are 18, they don't belong to anywhere and yet they were born here. Do I have to tell anyone if you send them back to Haiti they will not know anybody, and that they probably won't recognise the place where they land. This could be considered as a crime..." Kindly explain to me how deporting the child of an illegal Haitian is a "crime". Whether we want to admit it or not, the Haitians know the system better than we do. They jump on a boat from Haiti, spend days at sea risking life and limb to get to our country illegally. They pass other countries - Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic (just to name a few) without stopping manage to get into our waters, then pass hundreds of cays and several major islands with one objective in mind - to either land on a major thriving island or get to the capital without being detected or caught and by the numbers that are presently here we can conclude that they are mostly successful. The women show up pregnant or become pregnant shortly thereafter, knowing full well that the child they are carrying will have a constitutional right to apply for citizenship at 18. So, if I were a Haitian looking for a better life, I would simply do the same. I would jump on a wooden sloop, risk life and limb to come to a country where I can possibly live undetected and live in a shanty town or even in the open without being caught. I would then have my children here at a hospital where they cannot arrest me for being in the country illegally and then I would stay "under the radar" knowing that I can push my child or children through the educational system without them being arrested or deported and then at 18 my child or children could "get straight" and if I managed to stay long enough without being caught by the Immigration officials some Bahamian would have mercy on me and hire me illegally and if I were really fortunate, I could find one who would apply for a work permit for me and pay the fee for years. Eventually, if I put in the time, my new country would either give me permanent residence or citizenship because I have been here so long - albeit I entered the county illegally. In the meantime, I won't make any significant contribution to the Bahamian economy. I would simply work and take advantage of its free health care and education. If I were a Haitian, hell yeah, I would risk life and limb to get to The Bahamas. So now it becomes "criminal", to use the President's words, to deport the children of illegals. Tell me, how can committing a crime result in your obtaining legal status? How can breaching a country's laws result in your obtaining favour and being rewarded with the highest honour - that of citizenship? This whole issue has become twisted and because it remains unaddressed, it has now come to bite us where it hurts. We now have their President telling us that we are criminal because we don't regularize the children of their illegal citizens! In my opinion, only one person has given us a sensible solution to this problem. The Hon Branville McCartney has suggested that we stop granting citizenship to the children of illegals, and I agree. The only way to stem this nasty tide is to cut it off at the knees. If we stop granting illegals citizenship because "they been here long" or "they born here and dis' the only country they know" then the new word out on the streets in Haiti would now be, "Don't come to the Bahamas. You won't get straight at 18." And maybe - just maybe - their boats will stop landing on our shores in droves. A TRUE TRUE BAHAMIAN Nassau, February 10, 2012.