By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
THE Department of Immigration has not approved Canadian Bruno Rufa’s application for an annual homeowner’s resident card, pending the outcome of his trial in the Freeport Magistrate’s Court on charges of illegally working in the Bahamas.
Mr Rufa, with his partner Sandra Georgiou who is also Canadian, owns a unit at the Coral Beach Hotel Condominium, applied for the cards on May 13. The application was submitted with the required payments.
Attorney Carey Leonard, senior associate at Callenders and Co, contacted the Immigration Department on August 2, to inquire about the outstanding applications in respect of Mr Rufa and Ms Georgiou.
Jacqueline Russell, assistant to Hubert Ferguson, the assistant director of immigration, advised that Rufa’s application was not being considered because of the pending matter before the Court.
Mr Rufa was arrested on January 30 by immigration officers, and was subsequently charged with working in the Bahamas without a work permit.
The trial is before Magistrate Debbye Ferguson. He was granted $2,500 bail.
Mr Rufa, who is a retired Canadian, has been residing in Freeport for the past 20 years. He serves as president of the Coral Beach Hotel and is a member of the board of directors.
On February 18, following a hearing in the Magistrate’s Court, a senior immigration officer had informed the court that Mr Rufa was deemed an “undesirable” and was to be deported out of the country.
On September 7, attorney Fred Smith, QC, of Callenders and Co, brought judicial review proceedings on behalf of Mr Rufa against the minister of immigration, the director of immigration and the Office of the Attorney General, challenging the decision that he is an undesirable and a threat to the public good.
On September 8, Mr Rufa’s attorneys received a letter from Mr Ferguson advising that the homeowner’s resident cards for both Mr Rufa and Ms Georgiou were considered, but not approved.
On October 5, the date set for judgment in the judicial review proceeding in the Supreme Court, Mr Rufa was not permitted to enter the Bahamas to attend court.
His attorneys filed a summons on October 13 in the Supreme Court for an order that the Immigration Department periodically permit Mr Rufa to enter the Bahamas to attend court for the judicial review.
In an affidavit filed by Mr Leonard in support of a summons, the lawyer indicated that Section 11 of the International Persons Landholding Act states: “A non-Bahamian who owns a home in the Bahamas shall be entitled to make application to the director of Immigration for an annual home owner resident card and the director shall, notwithstanding anything to the contrary in the Immigration Act upon being satisfied of that ownership and that such person is not a member of a prohibitive class of persons within the meaning of the Immigration Act or is not otherwise undesirable and is able to maintain himself and his dependents in The Bahamas, issue that card to the applicant upon payment by him, his spouse and minor children (if any) to enter and remain in the Bahamas for the duration of the card unless any of them is otherwise prohibited under the provisions of that Act from entry into the Bahamas.”
Mr Leonard said that the grant of a homeowner’s resident card would have allowed Mr Rufa to appear for the delivery of the judgment as ordered by Supreme Court.
Mr Rufa will appear in the Supreme Court for judgment in the judicial review on October 30. His trial in the Magistrate’s Court has been adjourned for continuation on December 14.