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Minister Affirms November 1 Changes

CLARIFICATION: Please note, the headline and opening paragraph of this story has been edited, and the November 1 deadline is still on track.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

HAITIAN nationals with a claim to Bahamian citizenship may be given additional time to allow for processing delays for documents once new immigration policies come into effect next month, Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said yesterday.

Mr Mitchell said both the Haitian embassy and the Department of Immigration have indicated that the period was needed to process the demand for passports and applications for residence permits.

The Department of Immigration will receive a staffing boost of 60 officers next week to assist with enforcement of the new policy, according to Mr Mitchell, who also revealed that the Carmichael Road Detention Centre was currently at maximum capacity.

He explained that embassies, and related stakeholders, have all confirmed their ability to facilitate the stricter regulations on November 1.

Mr Mitchell said: “We’ve had considerable feedback from the public about the policies, and there is nothing that would suggest that we need to change the implementation date. The first of November will go ahead.

“I’ve spoken to the (Haitian) ambassador who raised this issue of the possible administrative delays and we’ve said three months, so that we’re hoping everyone is in the main, up to speed by the time school opens in January, that’s the idea. We’re watching to make sure there is an orderly process and that people are treated fairly.”

He added: “The Haitians themselves have not said that they can’t meet the deadline, they haven’t said that, there’s no complaint about that.”

Mr Mitchell spoke to the media on the sidelines of the official opening of Diplomatic Week at the Melia resort.

The new policy mandates that persons who are applying for a work permit without legal status will need to be certified by a local embassy or nearest Bahamas mission in their home country. Certificates of identity issued to persons born to foreign parents legally residing in the Bahamas will not be renewed, instead a passport of their nationality with a resident stamp will be required.

Mr Mitchell acknowledged that the passport requirement for non-nationals was the most contentious issue with the new policy, however he maintained that persons born in the Bahamas to foreign parents are not automatically entitled to citizenship.

Yesterday, he said: “It’s just a generic policy, which says that you have to have something which shows you have the right to live and work in the Bahamas, and those who don’t have that right to live and work in the Bahamas have to be excluded from the Bahamas.

“The difficulty, of course, is that there is this category of persons who have not been getting status even though they were born to foreign parents and they need to start getting the status because our constitution does not confer citizenship at birth.

He said: “If you are here lawfully in the Bahamas, born in the Bahamas lawfully, you should get the passport of your citizenship and you will get a resident stamp to live in the Bahamas.”

Children born in the Bahamas to illegal migrants will be deported with their parents, Mr Mitchell confirmed in an earlier interview. He explained that while these children could not receive a resident stamp, there was consideration to amend the visa regulations so that affected persons with a contingent right to apply for citizenship could re-enter the country.

Yesterday, Mr Mitchell shrugged off concerns that the new policy would encourage unregularized persons to go into hiding, or create difficulties for children of migrants to attend school.

“The physicist will tell you for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction, so I suppose there will be some people who will try and evade the law,” he said. “That’s not my issue. We have law enforcement bodies who are tasked with doing that, we need to track this, the Defence Force, police, everybody working together will keep tracking this.

“Right now the detention centre is full, 300 people to the point where it’s just reached capacity. We’re going to have a flight going out shortly and then fellas are back on the road again. This is relentless, we need to have law and order in the place and that’s all there is to it.”

He again addressed concerns of possible issues that may arise from the new policies.

Mr Mitchell said: “I’m sure there may be some difficulties (with schools), but whatever difficulties there are – those are questions of management and administration, that’s all. I don’t see them as overwhelming difficulties at all.

“I don’t anticipate any (problems), right now for example you have to have a national insurance number to get registered to go to school. That’s the requirement right now.”

Mr Mitchell reiterated the call for Bahamians to stop facilitating illegal labourers, adding that this practice was driving unlawful migration.

“Only we can stop it, you can’t condemn everybody, but some of our own people are driving this and we need to stop,” he said.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 5 years, 3 months ago

Here we go again......Freddie Boy announcing that his get tough policy on the 80,000+ illegal immigrants of Haitian heritage in our county today was nothing more than just another head fake by the PLP government. These illegal immigrants have known for many months now about the new passport requirement that was to be effective from 1st November. Meanwhile Haiti continues to demonstrate that it sees no need to move with any great haste in granting passports to its nationals who are illegally in our country, and probably got here in the first place without a passport. But low and behold, now Freddie Boy is granting a 3 month extension to the passport requirement which was to be the corner stone of our new get tough policy on illegal immigrants of Haitian heritage. Yep, that new get tough policy is proving to be just another head fake by the PLP who are hell bent in kowtowing to their Haitian and Haitian-Bahamian base of voters. Freddie Boy and the PLP claim this 3 month extension is the only humane thing to do in the circumstances, but what about all the suffering we Bahamians are going through as a result of these illegal Haitians and Haitian-Bahamians (including their many many children born here) sapping the very limited resources of of our public schools, hospitals and clinics, police force, defense force, etc. etc. FREDDIE BOY AND THE PLP NEED TO START SHOWING SOME COMPASSION AND HUMANITY FOR US POOR SUFFERING BAHAMIANS BY IMMEDIATELY ENFORCING OUR LAWS AND POLICIES ON ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION RATHER THAN CONTINUING TO PANDER TO THE HAITIAN AND HAITIAN-BAHAMIAN COMMUNITY BY GRANTING DELAY AFTER DELAY WITH THE OCCASIONAL GET TOUGH HEAD FAKES WHENEVER THIS SUBJECT BECOMES TOO HOT A POLITICAL POTATO!

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duppyVAT 5 years, 3 months ago

Why is Fred backing down on his November deadline????????? You cant backtrack and give illegal Haitians, Filipinos, Cuban, Dominicans, Jamaicans, Africans Chinese etc any more slackness in this country. I am disappointed in Fweddy............. again.

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TalRussell 5 years, 3 months ago

There is but one Minister of Immigration - whomever is current Prime Minister.

Comrades being too eager on counting the days before ministry immigration implements new policies is not what should concern Tribune readers - cause how many years we done been waiting? Successive ministers of immigration have given deadlines before, only to have them quashed by the PM who appointed them cabinet post. Former DPM and Immigration Minister had given the Haitians a deadline to get their papers straight or they WOULD be arrested and promptly deported - only to have Papa Hubert step in to quash Brent's intentions. Wasn't it also Papa who stopped his Junior Minister Bran dead in his illegal immigration enforcement tracks? But Pindling also reined in his Immigration Minister Comrade Loftus when he also had tried to enforce the nation's immigration laws. Why bother new policies when PM's won't permit the existing ones' be enforced? I guess it makes for good media play but no more? I think most Bahamalanders are prepared to wait many more than 3 months, if only the government of the day had any intentions of enforcement. Even worse, far too often a certificate of authenticity in support of an application is highly questionable or downright fraudulent. Please no more time frames - just enforce the already arrest, detain and deport back your backsides back to where you comes from laws on books. Yes, we can deport to their last known country, not necessarily where they born's..

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SP 5 years, 3 months ago

This is pure unadulterated bullshyt for idiots 101.

I wouldn't trust Fred Mitchell, the PLP or FNM with an empty bag.

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TalRussell 5 years, 3 months ago

Comrades why do I get this feeling that higher ups in government could not be serious when they will not even acknowledge the number of Haitian, Of Haitian Ancestry, Haitian/Bahamalander's or whatever they're defined as thee days. Yes, we must talk Haitian when they could very well have already outnumbered Bahamalanders by 2 to 1? After all they even have blocked off the radio airwaves prime time slot Monday to Friday at one radio station to cater to non English speaking listeners. is that even permissible under broadcasting licensing?

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jackbnimble 5 years, 3 months ago

Here we go again! More bullsh** deadlines and fake enforcement of policies while the blood suckers continue to come by the boatload in the hundreds. Jesus, when are we going to learn????

I have concluded that our country is sold and in another 10 years, we will have what they all want... a Little Haiti!!

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TalRussell 5 years, 3 months ago

Sold? More like an act of a nations' s title snatched in exchange nothing. At least a Dutch merchant reportedly paid the 'savages' on November 5, 1626 the value of 60 guilders -$24 for New York's' Manhattan and Long Island. Didn't the government lease out land for farming, only to have greedy landlords rent it out as Shanty Town's? Granted, you may not like what you read - but is it the truth? Suspiciously so when some jackass makes threatening statements and only days later the government announces new immigration plan?

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TheMadHatter 5 years, 3 months ago

3 months or 33 months?

TheMadHatter

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