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Former Minister Compares Move To Poll Tax Law

Reader poll

Do you agree with the new immigration restrictions?

  • Yes 66%
  • No 34%

199 total votes.

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

FORMER Minister of Education Desmond Bannister yesterday said the recently announced immigration requirements for the upcoming school year were lawful, but “morally reprehensible”.

Mr Bannister said the government’s plans to require all non-Bahamian students to have a student permit for the fall semester would render the same impact as the poll tax that disfranchised minority voters in the United States during the late 19th century.

He condemned the move as contrary to the moral obligation of the government to provide every possible opportunity for children to obtain an education free of charge, and encourage a literate society.

“In the past, successive governments have appreciated that notwithstanding the status of a child in a country,” he said, “we have a moral obligation to provide every possible opportunity for children to obtain an education free of charge.”

“What the government is doing is keeping education free while creating obstacles for those whose parents may not be here legally, or those who cannot afford the fees charged by (the Department of) Immigration.”

“They are in effect creating a society of the ‘haves and the have nots’ in similar fashion as when certain states in the US imposed poll taxes on blacks to prevent them from exercising their newly found right to vote.

“So all children will have the right to a free education, but like those black Americans that right would be illusory since they will not be able to register in order to obtain that benefit.”

Last week, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell revealed the government’s plans to require all non-Bahamian students, even those born here to immigrant parents, to have a student permit for the fall semester or a passport with a residency stamp. The announcement did not specify how the policy would be enforced, and follows the introduction of a wider immigration policy that, among other things, requires every non-Bahamian living in the country to have a passport of their nationality with proof of their status to live and work in the Bahamas.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration has defended the move, and this week, it was revealed that immigration and education officials will meet soon to facilitate the new requirement for children.

Calls placed to Director of Education Lionel Sands were not returned up to press time.

Mr Bannister said of the changes: “By doing so, we will create an illiterate servant class with little or no education; and a privileged, educated class.

“I realize that illegal immigration and all of its attendant ills create a strain on our society, but we ought not permit incursions into the universal availability of education of the most vulnerable members of society or we will pay a significant price as a people.”

The move has come under scrutiny from political observers and local human rights activists over whether it violates international law set by the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The human rights treaty mandates that all children are free from discrimination and specifies that primary education should be free.

Mr Bannister explained that while the Bahamas was signatory to the UNCRC, the convention had to be fully adopted into internal law (ratified) or it would have little effect on the governance of the country. The Bahamas ratified the convention in 1991, but held a reservation over the provisions of Article 2 – which outlaws discrimination – as it related to the conference of citizenship.

“I hate to call it a loophole, what they are doing is not illegal but what they’re doing creates a barrier, that’s the important thing to understand, that’s the problem,” Mr Bannister said.

The United States became a signatory to the UNCRC in 1995; however, it has yet to ratify the convention despite its active role in the drafting of the document. The US, Somalia and South Sudan are the only three UN members not to have ratified the UNCRC.

Comments

DonAnthony 4 years, 4 months ago

This new immigration requirement (tax) is immoral. It will disenfranchise the poorest of the poor and lead to a host of social ills. It makes me embarassed to be a Bahamian and I pray it is revoked as soon as possible. We are better than this as a people.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 4 months ago

Living illegally and feeling entitled in another country is immoral. Having kids while living illegally, not sure of the outcome for them, is immoral. Utilizing services for which you did not pay (electricity for example) is immoral. The list goes on...

The hysteria over this basic policy that has yet to be implemented, and in no way suggests that kids will not be educated for failure to pay fees, is ridiculous. Perhaps if our schools were less crowded you would have learned how to separate fact from opinion. FACT: nowhere does it say failure to pay fees equals no education. OPINION: illegal immigrant kids will no longer be educated in our school system.

Also, if you are embarrassed to be Bahamian, take a lesson from the illegal immigrants and hop on the nearest boat, and sail away.

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DonAnthony 4 years, 4 months ago

So because someone else is immoral, means that we should act immorally. God help us with this thinking. The real problem is a lack of personal integrity in this country.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 4 months ago

  1. I do not believe we are acting immorally with this policy...simply doing what should have been done long ago. However, in your capacity as the morality police, I was just making you aware of the real immoral acts...and not the one you imagined.

  2. Because the illegals act immorally we should not. I did not imply that at all. How you got there is beyond me. With your irrational thought process and exaggerated claims...God help you.

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ispeakthetruth 4 years, 4 months ago

I guess every politician now wants their 15 minutes. He has nothing useful to say.

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Okay, I while cannot see the former minister but his face can't be straight saying what he just said? Wasn't it Papa who encouraged Haitians to sue the government of Bahamaland? Then, again hasn't Kings Counsel Lawyer already done started taking the lead in suing our government, with Haitians as clients?
To everyone, at least you and I, it's not surprising that a man who served inside the red cabinet under Papa Hubert, would continue on with his red party's advocating for all, BUT Bahamalanders. Even still his condemnation of Minister Freddy that the move of student work permits is contrary to the moral obligation of the government to provide every possible opportunity for children to obtain an education free of charge, and encourage a literate society, IS not only laughable but the former minister seems so willing to completely ignore, that any Bahamalander government's first moral obligation is to provide educational facilitates for their own damn children. Should the former red minister be so inclined, our adoption laws will place no restrictions on number of non-Bahamalander children he is willing to financially support? If not, shut the hell up and not demand taxpayers pay for what you are not prepared to foot bill for?

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by TalRussell

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IslandTransPlant 4 years, 4 months ago

But when you have bahamian kids running around shooting up the place instead of looking for some honest work but then they were not paying attention in school most of them read at a third grade level these kids deserve a chance to better there life's maybe they will give back more than the ones that's putting other people in danager some of those animals don't appreciate what they have...

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 4 months ago

"Like Febe, many of La Lydia's students have Mexican passports with a US student visa."

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 4 months ago

"It is lawful" I presume that Banister being a lawyer would deal with what is lawful. There is nothing wrong with persons contributing to the education of their children. Banister is far from any moral authority. And all should be required to obey the laws. But what more can one expect?? Banister belongs to the Party that says Bahamians need not apply. Banister should remember that he was in the house when his Papa said THAT.. Pitiful is what always came to my mind when ever I saw Banister.

AS FOR the person who is ashamed to be a Bahamian no problem renounce your Bahamian Citizen ship and find another Country where you will not have to be ashamed. I love the Bahamas and I am always proud to be a Bahamian.

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DonAnthony 4 years, 4 months ago

No such luck birdie, I intend to fight for this country that I love and speak out for the best that we can and should be. As for your love of the Bahamas I have followed your comments, you do not seem to love this country as much as you love the PLP, as a diehard apologist (there are many in the FNM) who sees no fault in their govt ever, your comments are more accurately characterized as treasonous to the high ideals this beloved country was founded on rather than love.

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IslandTransPlant 4 years, 4 months ago

Some of you guys are so naro minded have you been any were els other than the Bahamas.

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Emac 4 years, 4 months ago

"What the government is doing is keeping education free while creating obstacles for those whose parents may not be here legally, or those who cannot afford the fees charged by (the Department of) Immigration.” This former, ineffective minister of education is spurting doo doo. According to him every child from an illegal parent shouldn't have to pay a fee to attend school in the Bahamas. If that's the premise then there are thousands of Bahamians who cannot afford to pay additional taxes like VAT and should be exempted from from paying them. While I believe that there is nothing wrong with giving children of illegals free education, I think that the parents of these children should be held accountable. The process introduced by the department of immigration will at least attempt to bring some form of responsibility to Haitian women who can't seem to control their vulva from spitting out children like it is going out of style. So at least when they have children they will know that they and their many f--- mates will be responsible for paying for their education and not the Bahamian people.

Folks, the world is changing. Every country is changing its policies regarding illegal migration. Nothing special here. Bahamians are in no mood to hear about other people's problems when they are struggling with their own. The free ride at five is over. Come to grips with reality or take ya children back to your hometown and blame the Haitian government dem.

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

The object of debate is to consider arguments both for and against a proposal. Facts, laws, numbers, costs, effect on the economy etc.

Please let us stay focused.

As a country were are in a stressful financial condition. This condition has come about as a result of a number of factors, illegal immigration being one of them.

This subject needs to be resolved by clear minds, informed opinions based on a good knowledge of the laws surrounding immigration, both local and international, our resources as a country and our needs as a country.

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Okay Comrade Economist while you spend the next year or more to do the checking with the international community, we the people are authorizing minister Freddy forge ahead. Might I educate the former red minister that a major contributing factor to today's immigration problems, have to do with his red regime's failure to protect the sovereignty of the very nation he and his red cabinet colleagues had sworn to guard and protect against ALL intruders. If the former minister is not prepared to classify the 160,000 Haitians who came and remain here illegally as INTRUDERS UPON A NATION, then I must beg of Tribune readers, permission to permit me to be the first call him the most obvious of a red ass donkey.

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

TalRussell, you, me, we authorized the Government to enter into various international agreements since independence. He can only do what we can. You can't authorize him to breach international agreements. World doesn't work that way.

We wanted independence, it comes at a price.

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Emac 4 years, 4 months ago

What is Economist talking about??? Immigration is the main reason for the stressed financial conditions we are experiencing. I was not stating any opinions either. FACT is Bahamians are not in the mood to hear excuses and the majority support this venture. Did you not read the poll results???????????? Or are you still stuck on trying to get people to see your point. What you and others like you are demanding is that I continue to pay for illegals in this country. My response is a resounding NOOOOOOOOOOO! But once again Economist the following is what you wrote as the solution. And I am the one who needs to stay focus? LOL "I would consider granting citizenship to those who have been here over twenty years and are making a valuable contribution to our society. Thirdly, I would consider granting residence, with the right to work in the business for which they are trained or skilled to those who had been here for over fifteen years and can show a connection with the country (Bahamian wife or husband with or without children). For those who have lived here for over ten years I would consider granting a work permit. Again they would also have to show a connection with the country (husband /wife)."

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

Quite honestly, immigration is a small part. We have lost over 200 million with the Hotel Corp, around 500 million with Bahamasair, lost track of how much with BEC, not to mention millions on ZNS, poor operation of the Public Hospitals Authority, failure to see that the OECD meant business on banking,failure to provide a healthy investment climate, and so on.

However, we must address the illegal immigration problem as that also costs. Remember, anyone that you legalize would then become paying taxpayer just like the rest of us.

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IslandTransPlant 4 years, 4 months ago

That's nice but it's not up to you pretty sure that a lot of them has already have contribute more than those kids that's running around killing one another...

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Emac 4 years, 4 months ago

"But, first and foremost, Haiti must struggle with its own demons to rebuild its ecology devastated first by the colonists, now by the Haitians themselves. It must also stop the culture of waiting for Washington or from the western world to bring solutions for its woes."

The above is an excerpt from a Commentary written by a Haitian, John H. Charles, titled "The way ahead for Haiti" While it may be unrelated to the topic in todays article it still makes an interesting read. I say kudos to someone who is looking at the problem from within and not blaming the rest of the world for the problems Haitians are facing. www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Com...

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herecomestheboom 4 years, 4 months ago

All ya'll who run on seem to miss there are only 2 possible outcomes. The bahamas lets the haitians take over, may already be too late, and the country becomes a disaster like haiti.

Or we stop doing stupid stuff to help them take over. Giving a free education and medical care to a criminal is just plain dumb.

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

OK, so let's do as you say and get the students to get papers. Then what?

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

Whilst we are at it, how many students do you think will need papers?

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REBEL242 4 years, 4 months ago

BANNISTER IS CORRECT..............WE ARE CREATING A COUNTRY OF THE 'HAVE'S AND THE HAVE'S NOT'. THOSE THAT HAVE LEGAL STATUS IN THE BAHAMAS AND THOSE THAT DO NOT HAVE LEGAL STATUS IN THE COUNTRY. WHY SHOULD AN ALREADY FINANCIALLY STRESSED GOVERNMENT ALLOW THE CHILDREN OF ILLEGALS TO ATTEND SCHOOL FOR FREE? AGAIN THERE ARE PATHS TO LEGAL STATUS AND THE GOVERNMENT IS ASKING THOSE PATHS TO BE UTILIZED LEGALLY. ALL THIS TALK CONTRARY TO THESE LAWS ARE SIMPLY PUSHING FOR A OPEN BORDER POLICY WHICH WOULD BE COMPLETE CHAOS. EVERY CIVILIZED COUNTRY HAS IMMIGRATION POLICIES, WHY SHOULD BAHAMAS BE ANY DIFFERENT? I AM SORRY FOR THOSE THAT HAVE TO RETURN TO THEIR COUNTRY BUT BAHAMIANS LIVING IN THE US, CANADA, UK AND EUROPE THAT ARE FOUND TO BE ILLEGAL MUST ALSO RETURN TO BAHAMAS. IT IS THE WAY OF THE WORLD.......EITHER EXCEPT IT OR LEAVE. I MAY NOT AGREE WITH EVERYTHING MY GOVERNMENT DOES BUT I AM ALWAYS PROUD TO BE A BAHAMIAN AND I WILL NOT SPEAK ILL OF MY COUNTRY OR MY PEOPLE. WE HAVE PROBLEMS BUT SHOW ME A COUNTRY THAT DOESN'T...............

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

Roughly how many students are there that you think are undocumented/illegal?

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killemwitdakno 4 years, 4 months ago

I guess nothing was required before where government could tell. How do you think other countries know how many illegals they have in schools?

They surely won't take Haitian passports available.

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IslandTransPlant 4 years, 4 months ago

They know because the school system is set up better...

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Economist 4 years, 4 months ago

So if Government does not know then all Bahamian students will be forced to prove that they are citizens.

Interesting concept, "Bahamian children are Guilty till they prove that they are innocent".

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TalRussell 4 years, 4 months ago

Comrade Economist here you go again. I sure hope you're better at economics than you are at spitting out incorrectnesses. At least I don't pretend everything I blog is necessarily close to the whole truth.

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TheMadHatter 4 years, 4 months ago

Mr. Bannister, I give your remarks a D+ just like your students.

Check ya passport, and if you don't like the one you have - switch it up, or get with the program.

TheMadHatter

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Girly 4 years, 4 months ago

ELECTION FEVER and everyone is coming out of the woodwork trying to garner votes.One thing I know,come 2017 I am voting for the party who has the best interest of the Bahamian people at heart and looks like it will be team yellow because so far members of team red are coming out full force against this policy. This can only mean that when election 2017 they will try to do away with this law. THEREFORE TEAM YELLOW ALL THE WAY.

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