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Who Has A Right To Be A Citizen?

EDITOR, The Tribune.

THE recent ruling to the Supreme Court regarding a person born in the Bahamas to illegal parents has stirred the ire of Bahamians everywhere. An immigration Pandora’s box of sorts has been opened and who knows where this might lead.

As a multi-generational Bahamian I have a vested interest in the well-being of this country for my children’s sake. I have a few thoughts I would like to share as a person who has no legal training, but is able to read and understand English.

The preamble of the Bahamian Constitution in referring to the Bahamian people states “... their Freedom will be guaranteed by a national commitment to Self-discipline, Industry, Loyalty, Unity and an abiding respect for Christian values and the rule of Law....” it further states that the articles that will follow are for the ...”indivisible unity and Creation under God of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas.”

One must wonder then how such division can exist in this small country over issues of immigration. I suspect that they only exist because the rule of law has not been respected.

Articles (3) through (5) of the Constitution identifies persons entitled to be registered as citizens of the Bahamas and they were all persons born in the UK or its colonies or citizens of other countries over eighteen who renounced the citizenship of their native country (subject to the Immigration Act 1967). Keeping the rule of law in mind, it must be obvious that references made to persons in article (7) is based on respect for the rule of law.

Article 7(1) states that “a person born in the Bahamas after 9th July 1973 neither of whose parents is a citizen of the Bahamas shall be entitled, upon making application on his attaining eighteen years or within twelve months thereafter in such manner as may be prescribed, to be registered as a citizen of the Bahamas.” Reading this article in isolation has created a loophole of sorts that some have abused to seek citizenship for those not deserving of it!

Confusion enters my mind when I understand that the Constitution makes it clear that the rule of law is foundational to all the articles of the constitution and even makes reference to the Immigration Act 1967. In my mind, it seems to establish clearly that the right to apply for citizenship after 1973 applies to the children of the LEGAL non Bahamian residents of the country. If the children of ILLEGAL immigrants have the same entitlements under the constitution as the children of legal non-Bahamian residents, then what is the point of the rule of law or the Immigration Act? Why would the drafters of the Constitution not simply state that all children born in the Bahamas regardless of the status of their parents are entitled to apply for citizenship upon turning 18 years of age? Why would an immigration Act exist in 1967 if all and sundry could come and enjoy the benefits of this country!

In my mind this problem is further compounded when one understands that Haitian citizenship is automatically given at birth to the children of Haitian parents? Why as a sovereign country are we encouraging the birthright citizens of another country to become citizens of this country when they are twice compromised, by illegality and automatic citizenship in another country?

Where are the defenders of the Bahamian constitution?

It is either the blatant disregard for the rule of law or the fragmented thinking of lawyers and politicians that has created this immigration confusion. Maybe its both!

JB

Nassau,

February 1, 2018.

Comments

sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

The motivation and intent of this judge (Hilton) must be looked into ........ I smell a rat.

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DDK 2 years, 1 month ago

As you say, hmmmm........... people with money and agenda dem.

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DDK 2 years, 1 month ago

On point JB. The immigration problem has been allowed to fester for so long that it now appears monumental, but it MUST finally be dealt with, for the sake of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas. Trust the Ministers involved, and their supportive governmental departments, dot all "i"s and cross all "t"s, not act recklessly and move forward to prevent the continued wanton decimation of our country and culture.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 1 month ago

Go read Chapter 2 of the Constitution ...... especially the part about been born aboard ships or airplanes while in Bahamian borders ......... and the "out of wedlock" babies......... BOL

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Emac 2 years, 1 month ago

Amen to this blogger. Perhaps something meaningful might come out of all this turmoil regarding Fred 'deranged' Smith and his people- This is an alarm to wake to the sleeping giant (Bahamian people).

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jujutreeclub 2 years, 1 month ago

Chapter II – Citizenship

Chapter II includes Articles 3 to 14 and addresses citizenship, specifically who shall become citizens of The Bahamas on July 10, 1973. It goes to great pains to delineate the rights of persons to become Bahamian citizens who are born in the former Colony of the Bahama Islands as well as persons who, on July 9, 1973, were born outside the Colony of the Bahama Islands and were citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies, but lived in the newly-formed Bahamas.

Chapter II also addresses the rights of persons to become citizens who are naturalized as well as the rights of persons to become Bahamian citizens who, on July 9, 1973, possessed “Bahamian status” under the Immigration Act of 1967 and were ordinarily resident in the Bahama Islands. They were “entitled upon making application before July 10, 1974 to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas.”

Chapter II further provides for persons who are born inside and outside The Bahamas after July 9, 1973. For example, Article 8 of this Chapter specifically provides that “a person born outside The Bahamas after July 9, 1973 shall become a citizen… on the date of his birth, if at that date his father is a citizen of The Bahamas otherwise than by virtue of this article or Article 3(2) of this constitution.”

There are clearly defined provisions for the right to citizenship for women who are married to Bahamian citizens after July 9, 1973, as well as provisions for the deprivation and renunciation of citizenship.

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jujutreeclub 2 years, 1 month ago

  1. (1) A person born in The Bahamas after 9th July 1973 neither of whose parents is a citizen of The Bahamas shall be entitled, upon making application on his attaining the age of eighteen years or within twelve months thereafter in such manner as may be prescribed, to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas:

Did not say legal (persons who are here working etc) or illegal (those who came by boats/planes etc who did not come through the legal channels.). This is the loophole in our constitution.

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joeblow 2 years, 1 month ago

The article above makes it clear that the interpretation of Article 7 (1) is subject to the rule of law!

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