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Belonger’S Permit

EDITOR, The Tribune.

With your kind leave, I wish to add my voice to the current national debate on immigration. At the Monday (9th February) sitting of the House, Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell used the House rule “Statements from Ministers” to set the record straight on media reports that he claimed were “replete with errors and untruths”. The media reports were related to the government’s latest administrative measures designed to strengthen its immigration policy.

Some people continue to call these new administrative measures “new laws” but they are not – they are simply measures the immigration law empowers the Minister (meaning the cabinet of The Bahamas) to take to strengthen the existing immigration laws in the national interest. The only new immigration law on permits to reside in this whole reform effort by the government now being contemplated and announced, is an amendment bill to provide for a “Belonger’s Permit” for persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents. This will allow those persons to obtain a status at a fraction of the cost that is now charged – going from $1000 now to $25 dollars plus a processing fee of $100. The status can also be given to anyone who is actually stateless and is born here to non-Bahamian parents.

The Member for Marco City raised the issue of the 2nd generation and beyond of Haitians whose parents were born in The Bahamas. He claimed that they do not have a claim on the citizenship of their ancestors. He described them as “undocumented Bahamians”. The Minister said that there is no such creature, either you are Bahamian or not. If someone is actually stateless, The Bahamas will honour its obligation in law to provide a status for that individual. Mr Moss claimed that those who apply for registration as citizens of The Bahamas pursuant to Article 7 of the constitution (at their 18th birthday and before their 19th birthday) are automatically Bahamians. The Minister indicated that this is not true. When applications are filed for citizenships between their 18th and 19th birthdays, approval is subject to the terms and conditions of the Bahamas Nationality Act and registration can be refused.

ELCOTT COLEBY

Nassau,

February 14, 2015.

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