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Mitchell firm over OAS concern on immigration policy

By NICO SCAVELLA

Tribune Staff Reporter

nscavella@tribunemedia.net

FOREIGN Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell yesterday said he was “not concerned in the slightest” about Organisation of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza’s “concern” about the Bahamas’ new immigration policies.

Mr Insulza, in an interview with the Jamaican Observer yesterday, reportedly expressed concern about the “rounding up” of illegal immigrants in the country.

His reported concerns came a day after Mr Mitchell told The Tribune that he would be holding discussions with Mr Insulza and the CARICOM caucus in Washington, DC, next week to clarify “misinformation” about the government’s controversial new immigration restrictions.

Mr Mitchell yesterday reaffirmed his intention to speak with Mr Insulza regarding the controversial policies, and the latter’s reported concerns.

Mr Mitchell also said the backlash resulting from the immigration exercises are the result of activists whose “stock-in-trade is creating alarm because they oppose the policy.”

“I’m not concerned or insulted at all,” Mr Mitchell said. “Not concerned in the slightest. I’m going to meet with Mr Insulza in about 10 days or so. But the thing is, you all keep referring to ‘round ups.’ There have been no round ups in the Bahamas. Whatever anyone says in connection to that has to be false as a first premise, because it is a false premise. There have been no round ups in the Bahamas at all.”

Mr Insulza is one of several people, local and international, who have worries about the immigration changes that took effect November 1. The day the changes took effect, immigration officers apprehended numerous illegal immigrants throughout New Providence. Some children were also taken into custody, however, government officials said they had been abandoned by their parents and put in protective care.

So far, the human rights group, Amnesty International, Florida lawmaker Daphne Campbell, Haitian Bahamian activist Jetta Baptiste, lawyer Fred Smith, president of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, and Mr Insulza have all publicly expressed concern about the new policy.

According to Mr Smith “the government’s mass round-up policy is unconstitutional and a flagrant violation of the fundamental concept that individuals are innocent until proven guilty.”

The heaviest criticism against the policy arguably came from Mrs Campbell, who was born in Haiti. She recently called for all tourists and international businesses to boycott the Bahamas over the immigration changes which she said discriminates against Haitian children.

Ms Baptiste said she supported Mrs Campbell’s call for a boycott “1,000 per cent.” She said the Haitian community was “simply tired of all the political games that have been played with (them) over the years.”

Amnesty International also expressed concern over the policies, fearing that they had led to human rights violations.

Standing firm by his previous comments, Mr Mitchell yesterday said that the criticism generated “does not represent the Haitian community at all,” but is the result of “a group of activists whose stock in trade is creating alarm because they oppose the policy.”

“The fact is this policy has broad support throughout the Bahamas, without regards to national identity,” he said. “Any other portrayal is a false portrait. It does not exist, except in the mind of those individuals.”

The new immigration measures stipulate, among other things, that every person living in the Bahamas is required by law to have a passport of the country of their nationality.

Persons born in the Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents will be granted a special residence permit that will allow them to work until the status of their citizenship application has been determined.

In September, Mr Mitchell announced that the government would impose new immigration restrictions on November 1 in a bid to clamp down on illegal migration, particularly from Haiti.

The new policy also states that the government aims to have employers who are applying for first-time work permit holders who are residents of Haiti to come to the Department of Immigration and pay the $100 processing fee, provide a labour certificate, cover letter, stamp tax of $30 and the employee information sheet in Nassau.

Mr Mitchell said that information will be forwarded to the Embassy of the Bahamas in Port-au-Prince, Haiti where the applicant will fill out the application form and provide the supporting documents. The applicant must be certified as personally seen by an embassy officer in Port au Prince, he said.

The government has also said it will stop issuing certificates of identity.

Comments

asiseeit 7 years, 10 months ago

I love how all of these organizations want to give the Bahamas grief over the ILLEGAL immigrant situation here in the Bahamas yet they say nothing about the ROOT cause of said ILLEGAL immigration. Go deal with the injustices in Haiti. Deal with the Haitian government and THEIR mistreatment of THEIR people. Maybe if you did that we would not have the problem we have. Stop the immigrants and they will not have to be detained and repatriated. Stop the people smugglers and the Haitians won't die on the high sea's. Deal with the ROOT of the problem. If you expect Bahamians to stop protecting OUR country you can think again. Carry ya hip to Haiti and deal with that before you even come close to talking to The Bahamas!

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eden 7 years, 10 months ago

Our government should break all ties with Haiti! St. Kitts, Jamaica, Cuba and many other Caribbean nations don't allow them to enter. Haitians are not a friendly race they are systematically taking over every Island in The Bahamas we must deport all of them I support my government 100% to do whats right for the Bahamas we should turn them back from the seas thats what we have our defense force for to protect our country and stop giving them our money when we deport them. We have a good relationship with Cuba if we need migrant workers we can get them from Cuba as we all know the Cuban embassy controls their citizen migration where as the Haitian embassy encourages it citizen invasion of other nation. Cubans will not threaten our citizen with voodoo. Am certain the Cuban ambassador would be happy to help us with farm laborers who would be more respectful of our country and would not try to take our country by force or voodoo. I was told that in the 60's we had a lot of Cuban on Andros that worked on the various farms during certain seasons and that they would return to Cuba once their job was completed. We as a nation need to look into our past to correct our future, Treat the Haitians exactly how our neighboring Caribbean nations does and stop catering to these ungrateful, cruel and ritual country destroying Haitians! Minister Mitchel be a savior to us Bahamian be the Loftus Roker of the Bahamas and send the Haitians home! All Pure blooded Bahamians are with you 100%.

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jamaicaproud 7 years, 10 months ago

I welcome the breaking off of relations of Jamaica with the angelic people of the Bahamas. I for one would never go there even if my passage was paid for. I would not even spend a dollar in a place where the people walk around with such rancid hatred. The irony is that China is taking over your space but you are not worried about that. You are worried about, "people from the South." For many years you people came to our country and recruited nurses and teachers and even common hotel workers, now you want to kick their offspring out like a sack of spoil rice. That in your prosperous country where all the youth are growing up to be are "shottas" and drug dealers. A day never goes by without a Bahamian or 2 getting arrested in Jamaica for drugs, but we do not get twisted and bent out of shape. I don't have any feelings good or bad for Haitians, but maybe if you all had a distinct culture, you would not have to worry about people taking over. Please I beg you guys, check your hatred. Remember Germany in 1938 where the News Media and the Church joined the chorus of hatred against the Jews. You know what happened, or do you?

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Emac 7 years, 10 months ago

Firstly, why are you basing your argument on one person's comment? Secondly, It is your rights not to come to the Bahamas, no one invited you anyway, So let's not even ponder on the free paid passage. You can't be serious about China taking over the Bahamas! I don't know of any website called chinesebahamas. But there is one called http://chinesejamaican.com/">http://chinesejamaican.com/. Yur space been taken over by Chinese, Please do not compare in any country with its citizens being arrested for drug related charges to that of Jamaica. Because Jamaicans are famous for being arrested all around the world for these same charges you are pinning on couple Bahamians who have lost their way. You are right with one thing though: The Bahamas did indeed extent invitations for Jamaican teachers and other professionals. Some schools still advertise for Jamaican teachers. This does not make Jamaicans any smarter. It only spells out that our small nation of less than half a million people do not have enough professionals to meet the demands of all of these institutions and or business. The fact is, some Jamaican teachers still live here today. Obviously they do not share your sentiments about the Bahamas. I am not saying that Bahamians are perfect people. All countries have their issues. But don't go hating on us just because of our prosperity!

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Emac 7 years, 10 months ago

By the way, the Bahamas has recruited professional from all over the Caribbean. But Jamaicans accept the invitation more because for some reason, they wanna get the hell out of Jamaica. Speaking of distinct culture; Any country that pushes its culture above all other countries, saying it is better than the rest and only that culture rules needs to move away from this narrow way of thinking. The world is bigger that Jamaican culture. You cannot expect to grow as a country and fit in the global market unless you embrace other people's culture. So be proud of your culture but stop comparing it to that of others.

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jamaicaproud 7 years, 10 months ago

Well Maybe Jamaicans are the most qualified and those who get any opportunity take advantage. Why is it in 2014 your country cannot produce its own teachers, and yet you claim outsiders are taking over. Why not make it a national goal to make sure all teachers are Bahamians. It is one thing to be in a country that you say is struggling and making most of opportunities, as opposed to sitting in alleged luxury and wasting opportunities. I have nothing against Bahamians, in fact the only reason that brought me here was reading about Myles Munroe. Get over yourself and your hate. The Chinese who came to Jamaica in the mid 1900's are fully integrated into society and we do not resent or seek to "kick them out." We also do not mistreat visitors, students and immigrants. We do not peep on and call Police and Immigration on our neighbors because of petty jealousy and hatred. So I say get out of Caricom, the CFU, the OAS, and go it alone wonderful Bahamas.

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Girly 7 years, 10 months ago

This is the same reason why we don't want people with YOUR type of attitude in our country.Stop being so sad.

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Duarte 7 years, 10 months ago

In Dominican Republic have the same problem as you, but multiplied by 100. We are currently invaded by over 3 million Haitians continue to enter daily and around 600 illegal Haitian our border, not how this will end¡¡

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SP 7 years, 10 months ago

.......... History Will Repeat Itself. And It Will End In A Third Haitian Invasion & War ..........

Unless your country continue on the path of deporting illegal Haitian infiltration

To the victor goes the spoil. Protect & defend your country. We will do the same.

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jamaicaproud 7 years, 10 months ago

The DR is a virtual wasteland of mixed up people who don't know who they are. They call themselves, "Spanish". Its beautiful I must admit, however any country that will expel 3rd generation descendants of people is inhumane as far as I am concerned. Please save your boasting Duarte, I don't want to talk about the Dominicans that wash up daily on the Beaches of Puerto Rico trying to scam their way into the States.

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Girly 7 years, 10 months ago

Why don't you go get a life and stop hating on people.

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duppyVAT 7 years, 10 months ago

I will be ashamed if Fweddy allows OAS or Amnesty etc to browbeat us over protecting our borders ....... we are acting very civilized towards an uncivilized group of people (Highshuns)

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eden 7 years, 10 months ago

We must support our government don;t give the Haitians any jobs or living accommodations! treat them as a threat of which they are none of our fore fathers wanted them in this country and we should continue to do whats right for Bahamians! The Bahamas was and is blessed because of God and no one else. Voodoo is the Haitians way of life so they should ask their government why this lil nation is thriving and not them and where is all the millions or billions of tsunami dollars. All the world organisation should make the Haitian government responsible and accountable for its citizen and the aide money it received. Not even America is allowing them to migrate or enter without passports and visas. Nor will we!

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DEDDIE 7 years, 10 months ago

Voodoo is what every negro great,great,great grand parents practice. Its amazing how the hegro was taught to hate anything black. There is Buddhism. Hinduism, Islam but we were taught to have a special hatred by our slave masters for what our ancestors practice. I don't condone voodoo but I wonder why I detest it more than any other religion when at the end of the day they are all false.

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DEDDIE 7 years, 10 months ago

Voodoo is what every negro great,great,great grand parents practice. Its amazing how the negro was taught to hate anything black. There is Buddhism. Hinduism, Islam but we were taught to have a special hatred by our slave masters for what our ancestors practice. I don't condone voodoo but I wonder why I detest it more than any other religion when at the end of the day they are all false.

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duppyVAT 7 years, 10 months ago

It is more than just Voodoo (we have Obeah) ........... Haitians are just of a different ethnic origin (Dahomey) that makes them at odds with most Bahamians (Yoruba/Ibo/Mandingo)............. check the history and DNA of the two peoples and trace the ethnic interactions on the Continent.

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Emac 7 years, 10 months ago

I see nothing wrong with looking at voodoo as being a part of a country's tradition. What makes it detrimental is when a large percentage of the population base their daily living habits on this practice. Many Bahamians on the family islands and in Nassau still carry beliefs that stem from Obeah. But how many Bahamians will ignore a doctor's order and put their health at risk by submitting to these beliefs?

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Andrewharris 7 years, 10 months ago

What a bunch of ignorant nonsense. The biggest problem in this country and the root of all it's problems is ignorance. Imagine cutting off relations with Caribbean countries. What is all the countries in the world with illegal immigration issues did this? Any of you idiots have any idea how many other countries face worse immigration issues than the Bahamas? Why don't we all just cut each other off? It never ceases to amaze me just how stupid Bahamians are...and by the way the very Caribbean countries you want to cut off realize how ignorant you are...there only interest here is it gets them one step closer to the US. Other than than they have no interest in the Bahamas. If this country was some where else no a one would come here. We have nothing too offer them other than our location. So get over your stupidity...it is not about wanting to live here it is about wanting a better life. Unfortunately for them they have to stop here first and deal with you jackasses. Obviously none of you know anything about Voodoo. Do you have any idea how many millions of people all over the Americas practice this religion. This is not a Haitian religion. This is a religion of the Americas. It is practiced throughout the region including huge countries like the US. It is very big in Brazil, Cuba, DR, Puerto Rico. Why don't you research it online. Because of your deliberate ignorance you think it is something to fear. More people have been hurt, killed, tourtured, persecuted, exiled, because of Christianity then other other religion in history. I never heard of any wars started because of Voodoo. But then ya'll to stupid to know this. Your ancestors more than likely practiced this religion. I suppose Christians who claim to heal with touch (for a price) or rid you of your 'demons' (for a cost) are OK...(they are on TV so of course). I have lived in 5 different countries the people of the Bahamas are by far the most ignorant and most poorly educated.

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duppyVAT 7 years, 10 months ago

You are ignorant ............ and stupid ................ if you believe what you just wrote. Do you have any inkling of the impact of illegal immigration and the strain it has caused on our limited national resources in the past 50 years??

Do not be an apologist for the Caribbean ......... they do not have our best interest at heart.

At one time they were RICH and we were POOR. We have worked hard to improve our standard of living and they have squandered theirs. Go read some history before you spout nonsense.

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Emac 7 years, 10 months ago

I am certain it is not the stance of every commenting on this page to cut off other Caribbean countries. That is just an outright stupid approach. The Bahamas is far from being self sufficient.

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Girly 7 years, 10 months ago

Wow,feeling the ENVY up in here from Andrew. Haters gonna hate.LOLOLOL

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SP 7 years, 10 months ago

.......................................... Not Too Happy Huh? .......................................

Got that uneasy feeling "for such a small Island there sure are a lot of assholes here?"

3 drinks, 1 hour of HDTV SpongeBob special and you'll be just fine.

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Emac 7 years, 10 months ago

@jamaicaproud- I don't want to make this a back and forth confrontation. You wrote,"Well Maybe Jamaicans are the most qualified and those who get any opportunity take advantage. Why is it in 2014 your country cannot produce its own teachers, and yet you claim outsiders are taking over. Why not make it a national goal to make sure all teachers are Bahamians. " This statement in itself shows your contempt towards Bahamians. Besides what you are saying is childish. It's like a child saying, "my ice cream bigger than your ice cream." Anyway, point aside, the Bahamas has the means to produce any amount of teachers necessary. The fact is Bahamians who attend colleges in general are not interested in becoming teachers. Most college students are looking at more highly paid professions. It is simply stupid to make all teachers Bahamians. Again you are thinking like a narrow minded individual. Diversity should always be in the mix when it comes to education.

I admit that Bahamians need to be more accepting towards other nationalities. But Jamaicans do not have a good record of respecting other people's culture either. I can say our excuse is that we are a young nation and are still learning. After reading your comments, I have come to the conclusion that you have an axe to grind though. You shouldn't put all Bahamians in one basket because of your past experience or hearsay. Or maybe you are upset because you or someone you know was deported. Don't get mad, get glad!

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jamaicaproud 7 years, 10 months ago

Mr/Miss Emac, ease of the name calling. I don't have any contempt for Bahamians. Its no disrespect but the average Jamaican I know doesn't wake up thinking about other people. All I am saying is this. The Bahamas does have a right to defend or protect its borders. I also understand that the population is relatively small so they do not want to be overwhelmed by a alien language and culture or those who do not want to adapt. However, for those who are invited, and get married and have offspring etc. (which to me is a natural consequence of living in an environment for an extended time) Their offspring should not be victimized because they were not born Bahamian. If the vitriol was for those who skirt laws etc. However for people to be harassing and calling immigration and discriminating on people who have been there 2-3 generations because they are not "Real Bahamian" borders on paranoia. Please do not tell me about higher paying jobs, when there are a bunch of unemployed and unemployable walking around the place. Respect

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Girly 7 years, 10 months ago

It's amazing how you people think that you are SOOOO smart and SOOOO much more intelligent but can't seem to be able to bring your dollar up and run at the first beck and call to come to the Bahamas.If you feel this way about us then KEEP out of our country.The Bahamas is the richest country in this part of the world.So tell me who is the more smarter of the two mmmmmmm.

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sing 7 years, 10 months ago

What this government need to do is resign

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TheMadHatter 7 years, 10 months ago

I wish to offer my deepest apology to the Haitian community for anything that i may have said out of line in the past few months.

Today, I was in a conversation with a Haitian national about some of these very important issues and he explained to me how, back in 1861, the ancestors of those who currently call themselves "Bahamians" drove out the native Haitian population here in the Bahamas and just "upped an took over".

it was very unfair he said, and it was too bad back then that there was not a United Nations nor an Amnesty International to protect them. This whole area that we call the Bahamas, is actually the Northern District of Haiti, and has been since just after Columbus' time.

This was not the history I was taught in school - but at least now I am better educated and know the truth.

I call upon all of my fellow "Bahamians" (so-called) to cease and desist their unfair and unjust practices against the true tenants of this land, and to simply GO AWAY. We all need to go back to wherever we came from and leave this Northern District alone to be developed by the Haitians as an extension of Haiti and to have the same opportunities and rights there to exist here for all who are entitled. Only then will the economy flourish and justice will prevail.

Best wishes to all for a bright future.

TheMadHatter

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Observer 7 years, 10 months ago

Andrew, the issue is neither how much nor how long, brother. The issue is illegal entry into any country is wrong. If you don't believe this, then try to enter any country of your choice without permission of relevant authority. Just try it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it. Softies don't build a country that's worth anything. Bleeding hearts are a blight on an orderly society. Your responsibility is to obey the statutory laws and the constitution of the BAHAMAS. If you don't like them then you too can leave. Fare-well, lad.

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Observer 7 years, 10 months ago

To the MadHatter: This is too far above your ability. Sit small and try to decipher what's being communicated. Now take a break.

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expatkz 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey... ala, Darold Miller.....HOLD ON, HOLD ON, HOLD ON...... what are the 2 and 3 timing Bahamian males gonna do if they throw back all the fresh young Jamaican and Haitian sweet meat...... What a dysfunctional tropical mess the Bahamas is. Its endearing how Bahamians cling to "Bahamian culture". Yes the music is fun, the people are beautiful, the happy go lucky don't worry, be happy spirit is contagious. But we all know the reality of the Bahamas is power outages, daily robberies and killings, very bad govt with ineffective departments (roads, electric, police, etc) and officials lining their pockets while bankrupting the country. You name the vice, the Bahamas has it and bad. Face it folks, the current Bahamian way of life is failing you. Truth is, in reality the Bahamas is a bottle of cheap champagne. A nice label of shiny beaches and fat tourists, but inside is a bitter concoction of mostly and i do mean mostly (6 of 7 days Mon- Sat) immorality and superficiality. Ie, its not a tropical paradise. Its a tropical mess.

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Girly 7 years, 10 months ago

Anything else expatkz?Are you finished?Are you done yet?because You sure do know a lot about us.I really believe that secretly you are our number one fan.Beautiful beaches,people etc hmmmmmmm. Loving it.Come on expatkz just tell your fake,sheep clothing self that IT IS TRULY BETTER IN THE BAHAMAS.LOLOLOLOL

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expatkz 7 years, 10 months ago

I have tons more. And those who know me know its no secret that the reason i am so wound up is that i fell in love with the Bahamas and its peoples.... all of them..... whether Bahamian, Jamaican, Haitian, British, Canadian, all of them. All the more reason it is upsetting me as it is such a fine opportunity to be a amazing place to live, but now it is such a mess... its has its amazing moments, but they are always always drown out by crime, govt non sense, and foot in mouth disease. I know it cannot be easy to manage a country. But for crying out loud, is it so hard to do the right thing Mon-Fri at least. Can govt actually work hard same as private working Bahamians. Can dept managers have the wisdom, and ability to plan ahead, have conviction, stay withing budget, and run effective depts? (BEC, Roads, Police). Is it too much to ask that all people are treated with dignity (ie, don't round up foreign born without specific individual justification, don't burn there meager shacks, etc) . Is it too much to ask that there is no more power outages ? Can you just sacrifice that non effective blow hard woman beater Miller to make a point ? To show that you are willing to press ahead for positive change.? No is the answer to all these if you want to consider yourself a first class country. Work effectively M-F, don't just grandstand and crow like a rooster on radio, TV, etc,..... do real effective govt.... (please stop blowing smoke up our arse and self inflating your well educated, but misguided egos). Then party by all means on Fri night and all Saturday....sin away, and Sun get forgiven like the rest of the civilized world.

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