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Immigration Change For Men Too

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Attorney General Carl Bethel.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis administration will not just grant automatic citizenship to children of Bahamian women born abroad upon application, but to children of unwed Bahamian men as well, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.

It will accomplish the latter by amending the Bahamas Nationality Act and the Status of Children Act.

Mr Bethel’s statement came amid concerns Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis’ initially revealed policy––granting automatic citizenship to children born abroad to Bahamian women––would do nothing to help some children born to unwed Bahamian fathers.

Under present law, the child of an unwed Bahamian man and a foreign woman is not an automatic Bahamian citizen. The child would have to apply for citizenship after reaching the age of 18.

The issue was the third question put to Bahamians in last year’s constitutional referendum. It was rejected, with 28,246 people voting yes to changing the Constitution to give an unwed Bahamian father the same right that a Bahamian woman has to pass citizenship to a child born in or out of wedlock and 54,890 people voting no. 

Tavarrie Smith, an attorney and juvenile rights advocate who says he would challenge any discriminatory change to the Bahamas Nationality Act on behalf of his clients, said yesterday: “I represent a number of young men who lack proper status here in the Bahamas because their mothers are of Haitian descent or from Turks and Caicos, despite the fact that their father is a natural born Bahamian. In one instance, the father is the sole surviving parent because the mother has passed away and he is often met with difficulties regarding his children status. 

“Over 60 percent of children born in the Bahamas are born out of wedlock to unmarried mothers and fathers. Unless the proposed amendments remove the discriminatory limitation of children born only to Bahamian women, we will still be left with a very large segment of stateless and undocumented children born in the Bahamas.”

Asked for a response, Mr Bethel said the administration’s changes to citizenship provisions will put children of unwed Bahamian men and children of married Bahamian women born abroad on “broadly equal footing.” 

Mr Bethel said: “Actual paternity [not putative] may be proven by DNA testing pursuant to a court order under the Status of Children Act. But that law presently states that paternity so established cannot be used to acquire Bahamian citizenship.”

The Christie administration made amending the Status of Children Act conditional on the passing of the third constitutional amendment bill in last year’s referendum. 

Asked for his reaction yesterday to the Minnis administration’s plans, Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell said the plans run contrary of legal principles. 

“There is a principle in law I thought that you cannot amend the Constitution through stealth or the back door,” he said. “It would seem again that what they propose will run afoul of that. As I indicated right now, Section 6 of the Bahamas Nationality Act gives the minister the power to give citizenship to any child. So there is no need to do anything other than improve the administrative procedures.”

Comments

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 7 months ago

Absolutely amazing! It seems our new government has a definite preference for granting citizenship to all and sundry with little or no attention being paid to creating a business environment conducive to job creation (as opposed to job lay-offs) by the private sector. Moreover, it is our Constitution (and not statute law) that should properly determine and have the final say on who is eligible to receive the most sacrosanct of all of our rights, i.e. the right to Bahamian citizenship!

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

The ability to prove a child's father through DNA should make this amendment easier to implement ........ But Article 14.1 presents a challenge for men.

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 7 months ago

So in plain speaking terms, it's time now for all Bahamians to buy tents and move out of their houses into the bush...and give ya house to the Haitians and Jamaicans dem.

Why?

Because they came here and had a whole bunch of children out of wedlock - and their decision historically to do that has now presently become our problem.

Just fire all the immigration from the airports and harbours and let them all come in. Why even bother trying to succeed as a Bahamian anymore? Ya country gone. Killed by a blood red political party.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

If a parent is a Bahamian and can prove that its their child by DNA ......... their children should be given citizenship by LAW........... There was NO DNA in 1973 ....... and the Constitution reflects that ........ But there is leverage for change.

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Reality_Check 2 years, 7 months ago

Carl Bethel had better keep one very fundamental thing straight that wandering mind of his that is all too often prone to mischief and deceit. It is the people of the Bahamas, i.e. we Bahamian citizens, who get to determine directly for themselves who is eligible to be a Bahamian citizen. Our elected officials are only able to determine by statute and regulations the terms, conditions and procedures by which constitutionally eligible individuals are to be conferred Bahamian citizenship. This difference here may be subtle and difficult for many to understand, but it is nevertheless a vitally important difference. Put another way, it was always intended that the right and privilege to determine citizenship eligibility should rest directly with the Bahamian people, i.e. be reserved directly unto ourselves through our Constitution, as opposed to being reserved indirectly by us through our elected officials. There are somethings we simply and rightly do not ever want to trust or empower our elected officials to do - the determination of who is eligible to be a Bahamian is at the very top of that list!

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jamaicaproud 2 years, 7 months ago

If one has a strong national identity, outsiders cannot come in and disrupt the apple cart. Just saying. Just close the borders.

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jamaicaproud 2 years, 7 months ago

What kind of people would resist children of their citizens being citizens?

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birdiestrachan 2 years, 7 months ago

jamaicaproud a question are you in the Bahamas being Jamaica proud or are you in Jamaica with all this Jamaican pride, It makes a difference you know.

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jamaicaproud 2 years, 7 months ago

Does it matter? Just be Bahamian proud and stop study the Haitians, its a useless obsession, relax. Never been to your wonderful country and have no interest.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 7 months ago

Yardie people come here and try stir up strife, diss us and brag about Jamaica ......... well, if it is so good, why 3 million a yall all over the world like cockroaches?????? ......... Sit small and shut ya ass.

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jamaicaproud 2 years, 7 months ago

Sir I will show you they respect you do not give me. People migrate and won't stop. You can't stop it, neither can I. Every country citizens promote their country overseas, nothing wrong with that. You guys are too obsessed with immigration matters. Live your life and enjoy your family, don't spew so much hate you will be happy with it. As for strife, I won't be a part of that, I have nothing against the Bahamas, just don't ever intend to visit.

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John 2 years, 7 months ago

So in other words children born out-of-wedlock will have advantage over children born to a married couple. They can take on the citizenship of their father or their mother, or they can in some instances take the citizenship of the country in which they are born.

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Maynergy 2 years, 7 months ago

Thank you for the enlightening release of the burden that was placed on the back of Bahamian people for so many years. We thank you Sir.

Behind Grey Curtains by P. Carl Gibson Available at: Amazon.com, Google Play books, bn.com, Kobo.com Today.

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