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Mitchell: Immigration Policy Is In Accordance With Constitution

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell delivered a multi-layered defence of the government’s new immigration policy during his address before the Organisation of American States yesterday, emphasising that this country conducts its business in accordance with the Constitution and international standards.

The special meeting, held in Washington, DC, was scheduled at the request of Mr Mitchell to address what he has called misinformation about the new immigration restrictions. During his address he again denied that the Detention Centre was comparable to a Nazi concentration camp, a claim that was recently raised by local human rights activist Fred Smith.

Amid particular concern about the accommodations given to children of illegal immigrants who are taken during immigration raids, Mr Mitchell noted that on the advice of Prime Minister Perry Christie, a facility outside the Detention Centre has been found to house minors.

“There has been criticism at home and abroad about keeping children in the Detention Centre,” Mr Mitchell said. “The prime minister has instructed that we find a suitable facility for alternative arrangements and the Department of Social Services has spoken to the Catholic Church and the Church of God in the Bahamas with the view to identifying such a facility. I was informed today that plans have been settled for the facility to house children away from the Detention Centre.”

Nothing is more important to the Bahamas than its reputation in the international arena, Mr Mitchell said, adding: “Reputation is everything. The respect which we have around the world depends upon our reputation. I am here today to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of the rule of law, due process, the international treaties on migration and all the instruments to which we adhere in the Inter-American system. Please be assured of that. This assurance goes out to friend and foe alike and has become necessary because of the misinformation that has been circulated by two innocuous administrative measures that were announced by the Bahamas, which took effect on November 1, 2014.”

Mr Mitchell told the OAS that the government’s policy and actions relating to immigration should not be surprising to anyone given that the Progressive Liberal Party announced the plans during the lead-up to the last general election. He said government officials also told the Haitian government about its intentions during a visit by officials to Haiti on July 28.

“The Constitution of our country empowers officers to arrest people who are committing offences on the following standard: a reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed, is being committed or is about to be committed,” he said. “Officers are briefed on that standard and reminded of their responsibility in law to treat everyone with respect and with dignity and to afford everyone due process. So far as I am aware they have stuck to that standard. The government does not sanction any deviation from that standard.”

Mr Mitchell invited the International Human Rights Commission and the OAS to come to this country and inspect immigration procedures and facilities to verify his statements.

“We are open and transparent and have absolutely nothing to hide,” he said.

In September, Mr Mitchell announced the changes that came into effect in November. The restrictions mandate that first time work permit applicants from Haiti must be processed in that country before the permit is issued.

The policy also requires all persons living in the Bahamas to have a passport of their nationality. The government has stopped issuing certificates of identity but those with a constitutional right to apply for citizenship will get a special residency stamp.

Mr Mitchell said the new work permit policy was established to combat the impression that immigrants need only find a “friendly employer” to get a work permit once they come to the Bahamas. “This was driving illegal migration,” he said. “ The policy is intended to put a stop to it.”

As for passport and residency permit requirements, he said: “The Constitution of the Bahamas from 1973 does not grant citizenship to people born in the Bahamas at birth unless your parents are Bahamian. Unfortunately for many, they chose not at birth to get the passport of their nationality or a residency stamp and live in a kind of no man’s land until they reach their 18th birthday. It is at that time that the constitution says that you can apply for citizenship of the Bahamas, but before your 19th birthday.”

Comments

GrassRoot 5 years, 2 months ago

"multi-layered" sounds like complicated, convoluted, smoke screen, maze-like, etc. pretty much summarizes the current Bahamian mess.

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expatkz 5 years, 2 months ago

Blah blah blah. The crimes have already been committed. The emotional scars and hatred already sown. The innocent kids have already spent sleepless nights in a jail house. The meager shacks with priceless sentimental belonging's have already been burnt to the ground. The illegal roundups based on skin color, facial features and dialect have already been conducted. What's good for the goose is good for the gander... Meaning, round up your Haitian, Jamaican sweethearts as well as the men and children. Also, does it really take the old PM to instruct his smooth but wutless minister to have some departmental control and wisdom by treating children as common criminals? The past few months are a clear case of illegal, immoral, and disrespectful treatment of fellow human beings. Human beings doing what all human beings do..... Trying to better their terrible quality of life. If the Bahamian example were applied to the rest of the world, what would we have? Should it be ok if the US set up road blocks and raids and jailed then burnt the homes of every Mexican looking person they thought might not have proper documentation? Would it be ok if the British rounded up every Indian person they saw? Would it be ok if the US rounded up every Bahamian person they saw? My point is, stop blowing smoke up the worlds arse Freddie, these committees are not mis informed of the truths. They likely have much better and clearer information than your kronies and thugs within immigration are telling you.... If anything you ate the one with wool over your eyes. The answer is simple. Treat others as you would have them treat you if the roles were reversed.

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WETHEPEOPLE 5 years, 2 months ago

makes sense to point out all the rumors and non facts you have in your shit filled bag. "Trying to better their terrible quality of life"? Bruh is you serious? everyone wants a better quality of life, that dont mean you pack up all ya belongings and move to someonelse country illegally! So get the F outta here with that. Dont miss the big picture, if you came here illegally you are ILLEGAL and in violation of the laws of the country which you choose to set sail to. Why is it the Bahamas must be so welcoming to Haitian immigrants when their own neighbours Dominican Republic wont even allow them cross into their country, that must say something towards Haitians as a people. Bahamains have had enough, deport em all, every last one! Before the Haitian governments choose to make noise concerning our laws and regulations, why dont they try and make better their own country so that Haitians dont find it a must to leave! Ive visited Haiti before and there are parts of Haiti that are beautiful!!! Fred isnt blowing smoke up anyones arse, hes just saying what everyone in the Bahamas illegally dosent want to hear. Its time to clean house of all immigrants, even you if you dont have papers!

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expatkz 5 years, 2 months ago

WETHEPEOPLE, Its not rumor, its not fiction, its truth . I see it myself almost everyday. You see it as well and likely perpetrate it. Anyone with eyes and ears, including your precious tourists, sees it every day on the streets, in the cabs, in the markets, and over the hill. And yes, when people are living is poverty or under constant suffering in their born countries, they do cross borders to get a better quality of life. In every country and all throughout time this has been the case for every family in the world... Only China with its Great Wall was effective in keeping out the influx of migrants. I never said Bahamaland needed to keep the illegals, what I have always said is don't be inhumane, cruel, immoral, and criminal in your methods to deal with them. Where there is smoke, their is fire. Whilst it may not be as bad as some will say, it certainly is worse than Freddie is testifying to the world. They are here, so its not like you can just round them up wholesale and send them back. How is it the tiny and small budgeted Dom Rep has an effective enough govt and immigration department which doesn't create such a immigration mess?? Face it, your Govt and your Immigration Dept are ineffective and cruel and the world has noticed.

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 2 months ago

They are NOT trying to better themselves. How can you better yourself by having SEVEN CHILDREN per family? Or More? Nobody can afford that. That is why they live in squalor and eat cheap food and have everything cheap (and duty free) - so they can afford to multiply like rabbits.

They have heard about the Bahamas' "majority rule" that Pindling spoke about - and they are working hard to put it into practice.

TheMadHatter

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SP 5 years, 2 months ago

Nobody is trying to migrate to Haiti but if people were desperate enough to do so and take jobs from Haitians, those same animals rioting in Haiti right now would unquestionably murder them.

The way to better ones life cannot start by illegally migrating to my country, stealing a rightful citizens job, putting the burden and expense of education and health care for yourself and 8 children on tax paying citizens and participating in all manner of crimes.

The Bahamas has done more for Haitians per capita than any other country.

After many decades of GIVING TO HAITIANS they are the only illegals to turn against us and try to destroy us internationally.

Go back to your beloved Haiti! You were not invited here, not needed here and are NO LONGER WELCOMED HERE.

Haitians have always been pain in the ass parasites that we allowed to coexist among us at great expense. Now they have worn out their welcome and turned Bahamians against them......GOOD RIDDANCE !

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Girly 5 years, 2 months ago

GET THE HECK OUT.NO MORE SMALL TALK.AND THAT IS ALL I HAVE TO SAY TO ALL ILLIEGALS LIVING HERE.AND WHO DONT LIKE IT...................FRIGGIN LUMP IT.

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sing 5 years, 2 months ago

Here he goes again,lying to the OAS

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duppyVAT 5 years, 2 months ago

A true Bahamian would applaud Fred tonight .............. APPLAUSE!!!!!!!!!!

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crabman 5 years, 2 months ago

Hey hey now, where is the good christian love that everyone of you talk about in church on Sunday's while your Haitian gardener and housekeeper get the house and Sunday dinner ready for you when you return from the house of God? The Bahamas was once a foreign country to us also, it belonged to Caribs and other tribes before we were brought here from other countries.

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licks2 5 years, 2 months ago

You know that yoon making no sense aye? WE GER BE CHRISTIAN IF WE JUST LET YALL HAITIANS DEM JUST COME BY THE BOAT LOADS. . .LIVE ANYWHERE. . .PUT THEIR CHILDREN IN ANY SCHOOL THEY FEEL LIKE. . .KEEP ON COMING AND COMING. . .THATS WHAT YINNA HAITIANS CALL CHRISTIAN?

Bouy yinna really don't talk like yinna does learn much er anything there dude! Them caribs them was around here hundred years ago fool! This now een gat nutting ta do with who was where when. . .but who country it is now. . .recognized by the UN. . .and all international treaties you can call on!! THIS OUR NATION AND WE ETHER INVITE YOU IN OR KEEP YOU OUT. . .AND THE UN COURT OF JUSTICE CANNOT CHANGE THAT UNLESS WE VIOLATE ONE OF THOSE TREATIES WHILE SENDING YA AZZ BACK TA WHERE YA COME FROM IF YOU VIOLATE ANY LAW IN OUR LAND!

AND BY THE WAY. . .WHAT HJAPPENED TO YALL HAITIAN PEOPLES CHRISTIAN LOVE AND RESPECT FOR ANOTHER MAN'S PROPERTY?

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licks2 5 years, 2 months ago

Hey dude. . .THIS THE BAHAMAS. . .WE CANNOT ABSORB ALL-U HAITINAS THEM COMING HERE! Talk about fred telling lies to the OAS. . .the Haitian dude said that they did their investigations and found no evidence of Haitians people coming to the Bahamas by boat!!! I hope yinna see that nobody in the world is telling the Bahamas to stop sending Haitians them back home and decrease the burden on our country!!!

They all talking shed about "abuse" and other things like that. . .which the world is noting. . .but still allowing us to ship out illegals and put policy in place that protects out country!!!

Let them JA them go on with they dumb shed. . .we will continue to do what we have to do!!!! The OAS was invited to come dawn here and see for theysef!!

The OAS had only "stupid talk" given by people here who don't want to go back to their country. GO BACK TO HAITI AND TELL YINNA BROTHER AND SISTERS THEM. . .THE BAHAMAS IS NO LONGER FREE FOR ALL!!!

HOWEVER, THE BAHAMAS IS NOT "CLOSED" TO PEOPLE FROM HAITI. . .ONLY NOW WE CLOSING UP THE FREE FOR ALL COMING BY MOSTLY HAITIANS. . .BUT TO EVERYBODY!

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