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Migrants Crackdown ‘Humane And Caring’

IMMIGRATION and Financial Services Minister Brent Symonette.

IMMIGRATION and Financial Services Minister Brent Symonette.

By AVA TURNQUEST

and KHRISNA RUSSELL

Tribune Staff Reporters

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

IMMIGRATION Minister Brent Symonette yesterday insisted that the deadline threat for all irregular migrants to leave the country by year-end only sounded “draconian” but will be carried out as “humanely and caring” as possible.

Mr Symonette did not provide many details on the foreshadowed new immigration policy when he spoke to news crews from Our News and ZNS yesterday.

However, the Immigration minister did clarify that Dr Hubert Minnis’ deadline did not represent an amnesty for persons seeking to enter the country illegally – a point raised by Opposition senator Fred Mitchell yesterday.

Mr Symonette said officials were still in talks over how they would tackle the resulting influx of applications given the immense backlog faced by the department.

He noted that application renewals “may suffer” as the department prioritizes the processing of new applications ahead of the December 31 deadline.

“If someone is on the street on the second of January, but whose application is in, we’re going to talk about it,” Mr Symonette said. “Someone who is caught on the streets on the second of January who has never made an attempt to come into Immigration, does not have a receipt for filing a document, have never had any piece of paper, I think the PM has made it very clear what’s going to happen.” 

Mr Symonette continued: “So it’s not as draconian as it sounds because what we’re really trying to say is if you’re here you should have made an effort to make yourself legal.”

Mr Mitchell, former Immigration minister, insisted that Dr Minnis’ deadline gave the impression that Immigration officers were to sit on their hands until December 31.

In a Senate contribution, he stressed that language was important, and statements concerning Immigration matters should be measured.

Mr Mitchell said: “(Wednesday) there was a statement made in that other place. The statement said inter alia that illegal immigrants have until the 31st of December to leave town or they will be deported (these are) my words. Now that’s fine and good, but I thought the law was already being enforced. I didn’t know you needed a policy to do that.

“When you plan public policy you ought to think about the implications of what you’re saying. Are the immigration officers supposed to sit on their hands until the 31st of December?

Mr Mitchell continued: “And if they catch someone is that person going to able to say, ‘Sorry boss, I got until the 31st of December to clear up my affairs?’ Is that what is going to happen?”

On Wednesday, Dr Minnis told Parliament the fate of anyone who does not comply with the deadline would be aggressively pursued and deported.

Dr Minnis said emphasis would be placed on the process of granting and renewing work permits and visas.

“The new policy will be implemented within the law and constitution,” Mr Symonette told reporters yesterday, “as humanely and as caring as possible.

“Both sides (government and migrants) are not right there are some problems we have with regard to processing, and maybe the way we treat people, and on the other side of the coin there are persons who are (abusing the process). We seem unduly harsh but there are numerous cases of irregularities that happen.”

“Clearly persons born here to non-Bahamian parents, who have a right to apply at 18, they have a process they can go through. We are talking about people who have come here to avoid, or avoiding applying for a work permit or status to be here. Those are the people this is addressed at.

“So if you’re working here whether it be a gardener or a banker, a live-in carer or a nurse at the hospital, if you do not have a work permit you must be regularized before the end of the year. If you are a permanent resident Bahamian living here who is hiring one of those people the appropriate action will start to happen on the 2nd of January.

Mr Symonette noted that under the existing policy, first time work permit applicants will have to apply from their home country.

The roll-out of the November 2014 policy by the former Christie administration drew fierce pushback from activists as well as negative attention from the international community, and was accompanied by high-profile round-ups in which people, including children, were picked up by immigration officers.

When asked yesterday whether similar scenes will play out in the new year, Mr Symonette said: “I hope not, but it’s up to the individuals. Just so to be very clear,” he added, “apprehension exercises in the event that a boat rocks up will still continue and deportation will still continue.

“So this isn’t an avenue where you can jump on a boat and attempt to come.”

Comments

bogart 9 months, 1 week ago

Naturally it has always been humane some incidents qiestionable and the accused tried. Caring yes and all things relative. We cannot of find it financially challenging to provide enough beds in PMH for the sick or provide enough food vouchers to feed our poor but we have a Detention Centre with food and beds for those who break our laws.

Many actually believe we have been too caring and now are finally bancrupt from our caring for the citizens of other country while oir own citizens suffer.

Over abundance of cheap labour does not allow for supply and demand to find equilibrium and cheap unlivable wages cannot do for Bahamians to live in low cost unregulated shanty towns. Free schooling, medical facilities, good roads, transportation, crime free compared to countries they have left, lax apprehension laws, local support from fellow sympathisers, alleged curruption to get papers and to get straight, and a free jet plane ride etc used to be with a gift of 100 dollars to be deported make this illegal journey a winwinwinwinwin all ways around very inviting. Just look at the continuous repeat increased return rate.

Its time for all to do a little more to protect the soverignity and laws for the flag they proudly wear on their suits.

Our laws must be followed it is nothing new, it has always been there.

When seeing the untold damage illegal migrants it is time for anyone to protect our sovereign nation oir beloved Bahamaland the only country we know enyoying the freedoms our forefathers have struggled and sacrificed to bequeth to us their english speaking decrndants and our history

Before being deported persons must be given lectures on our laws, soverignity how our forefathers fought civil disobedience to have us obtain democracy. Lectures should be given on hygene etc, birth control, family plannjng, so that their countrymen and leaders get the message. Just like Bahamians who have a say like we do for our leaders we must encourage their people to do the same given this opportunity.

We must educate the illegal migrants with lectures before we send them back. We have an obligation to help. Teach a man to fish....

Hope our govt follows through and continues consistant vigilance.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months, 1 week ago

Once again our 'shoot-from-the-hip' new sheriff has made an utter fool of himself. Before making his non-sensical December 31 deadline announcement, Minnis should have consulted with his Minister of Immigration (Brent Symonette) who would have told him all of the following:

1) Announcing a December 31 deadline nearly half a year after the May 10 general election would naturally give the public the impression that our existing immigration laws were not being enforced by the Minnis-led FNM government.

2) It would appear to illegal migrants, Bahamas Immigration Officers and Bahamian voters that the Minnis-led FNM government would not be starting to aggressively enforce our existing immigration laws before the 2018 New Year begins.

3) There would be absolutely no way the Immigration Department could possibly cope with even the existing backlog of applications by December 31, much less the deluge of new applications that would surely arise from such an announcement by the PM.

4) Telling illegal migrants they must be regularized by year-end or else face deportation would all too easily be misconstrued as an offering of amnesty for all of those who can demonstrate they made the effort to regularize themselves by December 31.

And to add insult to the political injury caused by the PM's daft Dec. 31 deadline announcement, Brent Symonette had to subsequently stand on the floor of the HOA to try mop up the mess caused by our 'too-quick-to-draw' sheriff of a PM!

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Reality_Check 9 months, 1 week ago

Minnis has a real problem in that both Brent Symonette and Carl Bethel believe he is even more of a "moron" than Donald Trump!

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banker 9 months, 1 week ago

Mudda save yourself the trouble of signing in and out and signing in under another name. It's insulting, stupid and fools no one. At times you do have interesting things to say, but your integrity is definitely in question with the stupid charade and masquerade that you are doing.

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Reality_Check 9 months, 1 week ago

Could be my room-mate, might be my son, perhaps my daughter, even might be my spouse, or possibly my cousin, but what about my nephew, or my granddaughter, if not my uncle, or just a good friend. What say you now @Mass Exodus a/k/a @banker, not to name a few others, like the 'honest' one? ....... LOL!!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months, 1 week ago

Leave @banker be.....he's too sensitive.

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DDK 9 months ago

Y'all are too funneeeee!

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SP 9 months, 1 week ago

PM Sheriff Minnis is doing more "heavy lifting" in 5 months than the dancing clown and one man combined in 25 years!

This only adds fuel to the theory, Christie and Ingraham, secretly collaborated on any number of issues to the detriment of Bahamians.

Are they guilty of treasonous activities against the State and other crimes?

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months ago

Repost: We need an immigration law that would respect the basic principle set out in the following Q&A when it comes to so called "anchor babies" born in the Bahamas to illegal migrants :

Question: If my neighbor owns a fruit tree, and the branches hang over my property, can I eat the fruit?

Answer: No. The fruit of the tree belongs to the owner of the tree, so don't pick any of the fruit. [You can however trim back to your property line branches overhanging your property even if they bear fruit - you just can't pick and eat the fruit from those branches!]

Question: If an illegal migrant gives birth to a child in the Bahamas, and the illegal migrant mother has no official papers issued by her stated or obvious country of birth, must the Bahamas keep and bear the social welfare and other costs of either the illegal migrant mother or her child born in the Bahamas?

The Correct Answer Should Be: No. The child of the illegal migrant properly belongs to the country of birth of the mother, so the child should not be entitled to receive Bahamian citizenship simply because the child was born in the Bahamas; accordingly, both mother and child should be deported to the mother's country of birth.

Our constitution should be amended (by national referendum) so that our country, with its limited land area and resources, need not recognize 'anchor children' of any kind, neither at birth nor at age 18. This is particularly important to protect our own national identity and way of life (even our very existence) from the serious threat and dangers of illegal immigration posed by a nearby highly populated and severely impoverished country like Haiti.

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