By Fred Smith, QC
The FNM Christmas ultimatum is a continuation of the unconstitutional and illegal fascist practice of state terrorism against the migrant community.
This Immigration Purge is intended to cause panic and terror in the migrant community.
Quite apart from the illegality of the customary raids and purges, this ultimatum is simply impractical.
It is inhumane; it is arbitrary; it is going to tax the resources of the Department of immigration at the most stressful and taxing time of the year -Christmas.
The Government is saying this ultimatum has been misconstrued and it is only directed at certain people.
Concerned people are being told they should just email the minister directly with the immigration number of the person who is waiting for their papers.
Once again we are taking away due process and we are making governance, a matter of subjective favour by a particular immigration officer or Minister as opposed to a sensible process of dealing with applications.
This ultimatum is creating corruption instead of preventing it.
There are already insufferable delays (in some cases of decades) in processing applications.
How insane is it to create this massive bottle neck and for the minister and DOI to be receiving thousands of emails from Members of Parliament, pastors, lawyers, friends, applicants and members of the public?
Why not sensibly deal with all the applications in a timely, organized and orderly fashion and on a continuing basis?
Anyone going to the Immigration Department at Hawkins Hill will see the lines outside stretching for hundreds of yards all day.
The Carmichael Concentration Camp is already overburdened, overcrowded and the sanitation and health facilities are completely overwhelmed.
By the Minister saying people should contact him to get their papers straight by Christmas, is showing that this threat of being arrested and detained is being made not only simply to those who are:
working illegally in the country
legally here and are in fact citizens or residents in waiting
Those who are here working illegally, don’t have immigration application numbers to “regularise” or get their papers processed by Christmas.
This ultimatum is obviously directed at:
those who have been born here and
those who are waiting for their applications to be processed
those who have been residing here for years and have moral and international and or refugee rights to be here.
those who already have applications in and are in jeopardy of being picked up simply because the Immigration Department hasn’t yet processed their applications.
So the above people should not be the subject of:
terrorist immigration raids
losing their homes
losing their papers
losing their belongings
being falsely imprisoned at the concentration camp and
being put in jeopardy of being deported and or
having to pay corrupt immigration officials to let them right back out.
The perversity is all of the above people would not be subject to round-ups, raids or deportation if their applications would be considered in a timely manner, i.e. before December 31 2017.
So why create this panic for those people?
Three months before Christmas it is already sending shockwaves of terror through the immigrant community.
Thousands of people
have already put in their applications
have been waiting sometimes for years
have been going to the Immigration Department weekly asking for answers
Even the minister says the department is unable to process all the applications.
Even now for those who are entitled to be registered as citizens, a complete new layer has been created of “belongers permit”, further challenging the process and creating more delays, more expense and more paperwork for people who are entitled to status.
The ultimatum is obviously also not directed at people who are in the Bahamas working illegally.
It’s obviously directed at the thousands and thousands of people
born in the Bahamas or
those who have yet to make applications for their citizenship, or
those whose work permits have expired and are waiting for an answer to the renewal applications or
those who have applied for work permits or residency permits and are simply waiting for answers
those born in the Bahamas before 1973 and are again waiting for the applications to be dealt with
There is nothing for those people to regularize.
It is grossly inhuman and degrading to be making a threat of arbitrary raids.
The DoI should process the many thousands of applications in an orderly fashion and continue to arrest those who are legitimately suspected of landing without a permit, overstaying their permits, or working without a work permit.
The Immigration Department won’t even consider such applications because the practice is to require those persons to leave the country and then to make application for their work permit from abroad, so pretending to give people until December 31, 2017 is hypocritical.
“Not regularising your status” or
“not having your papers”, or
being on the street without your papers, or
waiting for the Immigration Department to process your application
These are not offences known to the law.
These should not be reasons the Immigration Department should use to pick you up in the yellow bus, detain you at the Carmichael Concentration Camp and/or deport you.
Arresting thousands of people en masse in this way is illegal, arbitrary, inhuman and degrading.
General raids will simply give Immigration Officers maximum opportunity to pursue their corrupt practices of picking up, arresting, demanding payment and then releasing people in their own internal process instead of dealing with people properly through the court system if they have indeed committed an offence.
So this is a hypocritical ultimatum that makes no practical or humane sense.
It is intended to terrorize the migrant population and in particular the population of people:
born in the Bahamas (citizens in waiting) and or
who have lived in the Bahamas for decades since before independence and
who have rights to have their applications timely considered.
And to do this at Christmas time.
How unchristian of the Government in a nation supposedly governed by the rule of law and an abiding respect for Christian values?
It is a time when the immigration, customs, police and defence force officers are already challenged with Yuletide personal affairs.
The Immigration Department can’t cope with all the applications during the year in normal course of business.
The last three months of the year are always the busiest and stressful even for the minister of immigration, his department and people in general as families are preparing for Christmas and New Year’s festivities.
It is hypocritical to say this is just directed at people who don’t have work permits and are working here illegally.
Those people can’t “regularise” their status or “get their papers in order”. The Immigration Department is already swamped.
Thousands of files already can’t be found.
The department is already understaffed and overwhelmed with work.
Files have been lost.
The department already is unable to process the thousands and thousands of legitimate naturalization and other applications already are in process.
The Carmichael Concentration Camp is already overflowing and exceeding its capacity of 200 by more than 500.
The entire system is already overburdened.
Why create this unholy stress?
It is a government terror tactic.
It is grandstanding.
It is far better for the Immigration Department and the minister of immigration to be using the resources to process the many thousands of applications already there.
Make their processing more efficient and earn money for the Treasury rather than create panic and mayhem.
Raids and falsely imprisoning people will cost the taxpayer and the Treasury money it already doesn’t have.
We will have to feed thousands of people who are detained and then the costs of having to deport them on boats and planes.
And it is illegal to have raid, to arbitrarily arrest and falsely imprison (which is being called euphemistically “detaining”).
The DoI and Defence Force should use their limited resources more productively.
This threat is also illegal and in breach of the Immigration Act which does not give the power to officers to conduct raids and to falsely imprison and then deport people.
There is a process under the Act.
The process is for a deportation order to be served on a person; that person has seven days in which to appeal to the Governor General who must consider each appeal.
This process of threats, ultimatums, indiscriminate, wholesale terrorist raiding by the government on the immigrant community is simply unconstitutional, inhuman and degrading.
This FNM ultimatum is simply continuing the fascist tactic of state terrorism against the migrant community.
It’s also creating liability and damages to the Government for court claims for false imprisonment, false arrest, indefinite detention, breaches of the Constitution and the Immigration Act.
When that happens the government complains lawyers are taking money from the Treasury through damages and costs.
It then costs the taxpayer more money to have lawyers at the Attorney General’s office and the whole judicial system dealing with court cases.
The government is perpetuating and creating lawless agencies, The Department of Immigration and the Defence Force, armed and fully resourced, answerable to no judicial system, no higher authority and eventually will take the law into their own hands and terrorize the rest of the population.
One day the Bahamas will come to rue the day it perpetuated the creation of these two military forces.
This is how a Ton Ton Macoute or Gestapo or SS is created.
That may sound dramatic, exaggerated or hyperbolic but it isn’t.
Because they act completely outside of the law, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Penal Code, the Immigration Act, or the Constitution they effectively become a law unto themselves.
They can perpetuate their own corrupt practices; they are answerable to no one.
Because migrants, or the children of migrants, rarely take them before the courts.
Often, by the time those few people whose rights have been abused, actually do sue, they are deported.
Migrants, poor people, can’t afford to sue.
It is simply insane to keep doing this.
The definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
This illegal practice has been going on for 50 years.
Government should focus on processing the thousands and thousands of applications already in the system instead.
I’m so sick and tired and discouraged by this continued insane unconstitutional terrorist behaviour by PLP and FNM governments.