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Immigration Policy Faces Judicial Review

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

SUPREME Court Justice Rhonda Bain yesterday granted leave to issue judicial review action against the government’s new immigration policy.

Justice Bain heard the ex-parte application by 21-year-old Widlyne Melidor, which alleges that the Bahamian-born mother of Haitian descent and her son were denied public services because they did not have Haitian passports.

The application suggests that their experiences appear to be the result of the implementation, or subsequent interpretation, of the immigration policy introduced on November 1, 2014.

Respondents listed are: Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell, Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald, the Columbus Primary School Board, Minister of Health Dr Perry Gomez and the administrator of the Fleming Street Community Clinic.

Fred Smith, attorney for Ms Melidor, confirmed that the judge also granted an injunction that would require health officials to provide access to medical care for herself and her dependents, pending the determination of the judicial review.

However, Justice Bain granted the attorney general an opportunity to have a hearing on the injunction on May 8.

The Office of the Attorney General was represented by Kayla Green-Smith and Melissa Wright.

Last November, the government introduced a stricter immigration policy that, among other things, requires every non-Bahamian to have a passport of their nationality. Months later, the government said every child of foreign parents would need a student permit to attend school for the upcoming fall semester.

The ex-parte application alleged that the unemployed mother was denied antenatal care while pregnant with her fourth child and access to primary school education for her five-year-old son Petroun Benz Chery.

The five-year-old was also born in The Bahamas and is listed as the second applicant in the application filed on April 24.

Ms Melidor is also seeking judicial review of the Immigration Department’s policy requirement for persons born in The Bahamas to carry identity papers proving their right to reside in the country; and the decision to refuse consideration of her citizenship application until she is able to produce a Haitian passport, special residency or Belonger’s permit.

Ms Melidor is seeking relief in the form of a declaration that the decisions were ultra vires, or without legal authority; a declaration that the minister of immigration is in breach of his duty to determine her citizenship in a timely manner; and orders of certiorari to quash each of the decisions.

She has also requested orders of mandamus: to require the minister of immigration to consider her citizenship application according to law and within a reasonable time; to require the minister of education and the Columbus Primary School Board to register her son Petroun; and to require the minister of health and the administrator of the Fleming Street Community Clinic to provide access to medical care for herself and her dependents.

At the time of the application, Ms Melidor was 39 weeks pregnant with her fourth child. The Tribune has confirmed that Ms Melidor gave birth to a baby boy at Princess Margaret Hospital on Monday.

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