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Independent Board To Be Set Up To Review Citizenship Applications

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

AN independent board will be established to review applications for citizenship to ensure politicians are not able to abuse the process by which citizenship is granted, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis announced yesterday.

“To make the grant of citizenship fairer and more transparent, I have asked the minister responsible for immigration to bring the necessary legislation to establish an independent board to review applications for citizenship,” Dr Minnis said as he wrapped up the budget debate yesterday.

“This will remove the decision from the politician and Cabinet. However, those that are considered to be of national security concern will be referred to Cabinet for final decision. I don’t think in this time and era Cabinet officials should be making decisions on who is granted citizenship. The guidelines are A, B, C, D and you either meet it or you don’t. I have no intent of sitting down going through thousands of applications for citizenship. We have sufficient honest people who can tick the box and grant the citizenship thus removing the backlog and the possibility of corruption. This will allow for less interference and more openness in the process of obtaining citizenship.”

During his contribution to the budget debate, Minister of Financial Services, Trade, Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette also backed a move to delegate the task of granting citizenship to an entity not inclusive of politicians.

“I’ll only say, I’m sure the president of the United States doesn’t sit (or) the prime minister of Great Britain (doesn’t sit) on every immigration application to see whether or not to grant citizenship to a person that does apply,” Mr Symonette said.

In 2015, former Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said he would welcome the appointment of a citizenship commission to allow applications to Bahamian citizenship to be processed without “political interference”.

Mr Mitchell said the proposed commission “would receive the application, examine whether the individual meets the criteria set down in the Constitution and the Bahamas Nationality Act” and determine if the person should be granted citizenship.

At the time, he said procedures for citizenship had not changed in 42 years and were unlikely to change as long as Bahamians believe their representatives ought to have input into who becomes a citizen of the Bahamas or a permanent resident.

Despite Mr Mitchell’s preference, it’s not clear if the former Christie administration had plans to create such a commission.

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 11 months ago

So Minnis thinks granting Bahamian citizenship is a simple tick-the-box exercise. Unbelievable that he would think so little about something so important. Will his proposed Independent Citizenship Board determine the maximum number of Red Chinese citizens to be granted Bahamian citizenship? Will the new Board be responsible for carrying out the necessary national security vetting of citizenship applicants? Will applicants from certain countries and regions be subject to caps? Will applicants be denied citizenship because of serious personal health issues?...and so on and so on.

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Genus86 2 years, 11 months ago

So you think that Cabinet gathers all of that information itself, or is provided with that information? There is an ENTIRE Ministry dedicated to Immigration that provides and presents that information, what the hell you running on with!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 11 months ago

None of the matters I mentioned have ever been seriously considered and addressed by our Ministry of Immigration which for years has been corrupt from the Director right on down - plenty money paid for documents to reside in the Bahamas that never found its way to the Public Treasury. Also, why do think the majority of registered voters in our country today cannot lay claim to being at least a third generation Bahamian on either their mother's or father's side?!

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happyfly 2 years, 11 months ago

I am looking very forward to a day when a Bahamian politician's job is merely to formulate policy, enact new laws and provide oversight of a functioning non partisan civil service that in turn performs the various duties of state...... so long as I can still give my friend auntie $20 to get something straight for me

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TalRussell 2 years, 11 months ago

Comrade Happyfly, Got me thinking it would be cheaper source out my "get something straight" business to your auntie.....My uncle when he hits me up is $40 - and uncle keeps reminding me how cheap I get off -considering all the right people in the know he gives me speedy access to.

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Socrates 2 years, 11 months ago

i'm sure this body will be properly setup with all necessary procedures to be satisfied as part of their deliberations. Minnis, rightly so, just wants to take the politics out of it.. any if you old enough to remember D'Arcy Ryan and the PLP? man was denied by politicians only... finally, i dont think there is a queue of non-bahamians dying to get citizenship, so everyone relax..

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 11 months ago

There are a lot of people who want bahamian citizenship, but many of them are just not the people we want. If we opened our borders tomorrow we'd have 300,000 Chinese , Jamaicans, Cubans and Haitians instantaneously. That's not a xenophobic statement it's the truth. If the US did the same, many Bahamians would flock there. People in desperate circumstances flock to places where they feel opportunity will be better or they'll simply have a safer environment from guns, rape, political persecution, environmental factors, gangs etc etc

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themessenger 2 years, 11 months ago

Straight up Socrates, most non- Bahamians and a whole lot of Bahamians are are seriously contemplating their exit strategies.

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