Insight: A Bad Idea Which Just Gets Worse


Attorney Fred Smith QC


Dear Prime Minister,

I continue to watch and listen with dismay to your proclamations on driving out illegal immigrants in what is now just 55 days time.

Whilst I continue to emphasize that I am not supporting illegal immigration, the issue is far too complicated to simply issue dramatic political broadsides which terrorise a great segment of the population all of whom have rights.

On the removal of illegal immigrants how is this supposed to happen? How are they going to leave? This is just impractical and unworkable. They don’t have papers. They can’t just walk to the airport and catch a flight to the United States.

So what, Prime Minister, do they do? Run into the arms of the human traffickers and try to sneak illegally into the US? What are they do do? You won’t give an amnesty but you tell them to get out. How? How? How?

And who are the illegals you say have to leave? Children born here who don’t have their papers yet?

The problem with your proclamation is that this is going to give license to the immigration department to continue to do these illegal raids and round-ups and to arrest thousands of people born in The Bahamas who have rights to be here.

What you are doing is promoting opportunities for the immigration offices to profit by recycling people - who have rights to be here - though the Carmichael concentration camp. They will simply arrest them, detain them, receive $2500 and release them again. Disrupting people’s lives like that is so unconscionable.

Please do not let the immigration department continue to do this.

I ask, how can children who had nothing to say about where they were born, become illegal? If they were born here they have a right to be treated as a citizen, helped to process not hindered and robbed and ‘just get it done’. When is it okay to punish children and for whose sins?

What’s going to happen on December 31? Thousands and thousands of children born here in the Bahamas, entitled to be registered as citizens, are going to be rounded up and shipped out of the country by immigration?

This is the big stupidity about your proclamation, Prime Minister. Again, who are the illegals? Is the Immigration Department going to continue to be judge, jury and executioner? Are they going to take people before the courts?

This is a complete systematic breakdown in the rule of law and you, Prime Minister. I was there at your swearing in and you promised to uphold the rule of law.

Please, before you do any further damage to our democracy take advice from people other than the lawyers in your cabinet who obviously don’t have any idea about what the rule of law means. Take advice from independent lawyers, please.

The people advising you Prime Minister must be clueless about the law otherwise they wouldn’t continue to allow you or encourage you to make these unlawful statements which are so aggressive and terrorize a huge section of the population, none of whom have ever been taken before court, tried or convicted.

To make matters worse Prime Minister you are now suggesting a Constitutional Commission. If you don’t amend the Immigration Act, you are just doing a Perry Christie who committee’d everything to death and never got anything done in both his terms.

It is a idea and illegal unless you amend the Immigration Act. That is the answer and unless you do that, it’s just passing the buck - again.

The meantime, until the Immigration Act is amended, all that is needed is to employ dozens of secretaries to process the thousands of applications before the Immigration Board. By law the Immigration Board consists of the entire cabinet which could have a sub-committee which would simply just deal with immigration citizenship.

This is just like the belonger’s permit. The ‘commission’ is another delay, another obstacle to obtaining citizenship. In fact, delegating authority for citizenship review and decisions is unlawful and unconstitutional.

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act it is a function of the Immigration Board.

Creating more committees and more commissions is a guarantee of kicking the ball down the line and keeping the people in limbo. As I said, a Perry Christie PLP tactic - committee and commission it to death.

We as a country - everyone who was ever responsible for protecting our borders, every male who sired children and didn’t provide for the, everyone who abused and took advantage of our brothers and sisters - should be making amends, not turning our backs.

The harm we are doing now is two generations old, and growing.

It is laughable when you consider no-one was Bahamian until 1973.


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