By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
MIGRANTS who enter the Bahamas illegally should be jailed, deported, blacklisted and barred from entering the country again, Marco City MP Greg Moss said in the House of Assembly yesterday.
As he argued that the government was not serious about clamping down on illegal migration, Mr Moss called revenue collected from work permit fees “blood money”.
He said it has become acceptable to issue work permits to foreigners over Bahamians who were capable of doing the same jobs.
“Mr Speaker in the last government,” Mr Moss said, “before the last election, the former member (of parliament) for Marco City (Zhivargo Laing), who was a minister of state for finance, said openly that the government of the day had collected $64m in work permit fees. He saw that as something to brag about but I label that blood money.
“Because if you think about that $64m in one year, you are telling us that we have so many Bahamians who are unequipped for jobs that we need to get that many work permits out. Or is it that the government sees work permit fees as a source of revenue?
“When I say the government, I mean both administrations. Still government sees work permit fees as a source of revenue which means that the government is competing with Bahamians for jobs. Because if we give you the job we don’t get any work permit fees, but if we give the foreign person the job we get work permit fees.
“(This) cannot be a legitimate source of revenue for a government when to do so is a driving force for governing because what you are saying when you do that is that we are competing with your people for revenue.”
Mr Moss suggested that the government had not done enough to send a message that illegally crossing the country’s borders is a serious offence.
“This is what governing is about. It is about shaping policies for the betterment of our people. I am harder on immigration than most people I know.
“I believe that if you come on to our shores illegally we should incarcerate you not just deport you. We should fingerprint you and put you on a blacklist and you would never be able to come to our country again.
“This message should be sent out to the entire world that if you come here illegally you will never be allowed to enter legally,” Mr Moss said.
He also urged the government to avoid inciting discrimination against Haitians as he repeated that “undocumented Bahamians” were the ones most vulnerable to the government’s new immigration restrictions.
This caused Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell to intervene.
He said it was important for him to set the record straight that Bahamians were not being deported or targeted by the government’s immigration policy.