CORRECTION: The number of people involved in the staged protests against the Bahamas immigration policy in Miami on Friday was 12 to 15 as allowed by the City of Miami Police Department’s demonstration permit and not due to a low turnout as reported on Saturday in the Big T.
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell has downplayed an anti-Bahamas demonstration held in Miami by Florida state representative Daphne Campbell in protest of the country’s immigration restrictions.
Mr Mitchell said he did not expect any fallout from the picketing outside of the Bahamas Consulate General’s office building on Friday.
He gave brief remarks on the matter during a press conference at the Department of Immigration on Hawkins Hill yesterday.
Mrs Campbell, with about 15 protesters of Haitian descent, chanted, “Stop deportations” and “Boycott Bahamas” during the demonstration on Friday.
They further called for Mr Mitchell’s resignation as immigration minister.
Mrs Campbell told The Tribune that groups of a similar size were stationed at the Port of Miami and the Miami International Airport for simultaneous protests.
“I think it (the protest’s small crowds) speaks to itself,” Mr Mitchell said. “The position I have always taken is that the Bahamian press makes more of what she does than is really warranted.
“I think at the end of the day what happened in Miami really shows that it really doesn’t amount to anything and that most people know that the Bahamas is not involved in any way shape or form in any kind of state sanctioned abuse.
“It is important again for distinctions to be made on this. What the critics of this have been trying to do is to lock individual acts of possible maleficence with a state sanctioned regime of maleficence or abuse and the things are two separate matters.”
Mrs Campbell said that despite the low turn out, she was not discouraged. She said the protests would continue as often as possible until the policy is revamped.
She said: “We are protesting against the inhumane treatment and discrimination against children born in the Bahamas of Haitian descent. We are protesting because we feel it is very unfair for anyone who is born in the Bahamas and grew up in the Bahamas to be deported. It is unfair.
“What we’re doing is spreading awareness about what is going on.”
Bahamas Consul General Ricardo Treco at the time called the protests a “dead issue”, adding that Mrs Campbell did not have much political clout in the city.
Mr Treco maintained that his office would not meet with Mrs Campbell until she retracted “defamatory and false” statements against the Bahamas.
He suggested that her outspoken position on the country’s new immigration policy was politically motivated.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday issued an advisory for Bahamians travelling to Miami concerning the demonstrations.
The statement referred to Mrs Campbell as an anti-Bahamian Florida legislator, and described the demonstrations as “ill-conceived and misdirected”.