EDITOR, The Tribune.
Please permit me space in your esteemed publication to express, first of all, a few words of praise of the immigration officers, who appear to have shown great compassion in dealing with the children left behind by parent/guardians fleeing a recent raid on illegal immigrants. How afraid those little ones must have been and how great the danger they faced in being abandoned, however temporarily. Also, I express sympathy for the seemingly unending challenges the staffs of the Department of Immigration and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force face in trying to stem the ever rising tide of illegal migration. I’m fully aware of the fact that no country can survive without controlling illegal immigration.
But when are we going to sit down and formulate a sensible, workable immigration plan and practice, instead of taxing the public purse to pay for repatriations? Couldn’t we institute some form of documented, sensible reciprocity with Haiti that would benefit both countries? We need agricultural workers and workers to take on the manual labour all too many Bahamians now scorn.
Why not document and give limited-time work permits to people who are willing to be agricultural workers. Why doesn’t a smart entrepreneur develop housing and utilities for temporary, documented workers? By arrangement with honest employers, they could collect their rent money through pay deduction programmes. If people are allowed in on a rotating basis, we help more people and help ourselves at the same time in a healthier, more humane fashion. Maybe, with reasoned logistics and management, we might just get an agriculture programme that works at last. At the same time, I appeal to wealthy and learned Haitians to stop pointing fingers and use their energies more beneficially in solving the problems of the once-envied “Pearl of the Antilles” that could be magnificent again.
Because of the destructive forces of slavery and colonialism, the Caribbean region was left on the slippery economic and social slope to which our countries now cling perilously. Often through the decades since, people of the Caribbean and Atlantic rim, including Bahamians, have had to save ourselves by migrating for work. Bahamians once travelled to Florida and the U.S. heartland as harvesters on the “Project” or “Contract”.
Earlier still, many of our people contributed much to the development of South Florida. Bahamians also sought work in Cuba, Haiti, Mexico and Panama in the past. Hard to believe, but true. Many of our people are still overstaying their time in the United States illegally to pursue better opportunities owing to our islands’ high rate of unemployment, especially of young people. This persistent problem is almost certainly boosting robberies and the brutality that is feeding the growing murder rate.
Lastly, I have no doubt that the Immigration officials are right in believing that some illegals attempt to use their fertility as a visa. Nevertheless, can’t we do better by children born in The Bahamas, who have known no other home than The Bahamas, have demonstrated good character, are working to better themselves and can make a contribution to building our homeland?
We always seem to be hiring consultants at exorbitant rates. We obviously need a few for managing the immigration, unemployment and crime problems. Such expertise would leave Bahamian emperors free to fiddle happily and, at the same time, we may just stop some of the fires burning in Bahamas.
November 5, 2014.