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‘Pay $3,000 And You Can Go Free’ – Bishop Hall Makes Immigration ‘Corruption’ Claim

Bishop Simeon Hall

Bishop Simeon Hall

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

IMMIGRATION officers have been accused of soliciting thousands of dollars in bribes from migrants, according to allegations in a court filed affidavit which were echoed by a prominent religious leader yesterday.

In a sermon at Berean Evangelical Baptist Church, Bishop Simeon Hall advised members of the Haitian community against feeding on “the corruption sometimes found in the Department of Immigration.”

In written opening remarks sent to the media, Bishop Hall made the claim that officials are paid between $3,000 and $4,000.

The claim echoes the affidavit of Kediesha Bent-John, a Jamaican who was arrested along with her 11-year-old child and had been detained since December 8, 2017, at an immigration safe house for women and child migrants.

She is married to a Bahamian man and had been actively trying to submit an application for a spousal permit, according to her affidavit. Mrs Bent-John and her daughter were released last month after filing a habeas corpus application contesting the legality of her detention. Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton is expected to deliver his ruling on the matter later this month.

In her affidavit filed last month, Mrs Bent-John alleged that while in detention at the immigration safe house on December 11 she was visited by two men who said they were asked to collect $3,000 from her to secure her and her daughter’s release.

“Just after 8pm I was called upstairs and told I had a visitor,” her supporting affidavit, filed on January 22 said.

“There was a private car parked outside the safe house. Two men were in the vehicle and I could see them through the door as they left it open while I was waiting. One of the men came inside and asked for me. I have never see him before,” the affidavit continued.

Mrs Bent-John alleges she was asked by one of the men to call her husband for the money, but did not know whether he was an immigration officer as he was dressed in plain clothes. She said the man was irritable and aggressive in his demand for the sum.

“However, he must be familiar to them for them to allow him to come to see me when my husband could not visit us there,” the affidavit continued.

“I got really nervous as I couldn’t understand what was happening. I started to feel like we were kidnapped. I tried to keep calm so they would not sense how fearful I was. I was concerned that they would try to harm my husband.”

Mrs Bent-John’s application is among some 15 separate cases in which the government has been asked to prove the lawfulness of the applicants’ arrest and further detention at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.

Of those cases, several applicants have been unconditionally released; however, the Crown has objected to costs being awarded due to its position that all the arrests and subsequent detention were lawful.

The Immigration Department has come under heavy scrutiny following the landmark case of Bahamas-born deportee Jean Rony Jean-Charles, which officials note has highlighted the need for widespread reforms.

When contacted by The Tribune yesterday, Bishop Hall said: “I work with several Haitian churches, some pastors I have helped them to get regularised and on the other hand I have some Haitians who come and tell me how they paid officers up to $3,000 and they were ripped off.”

He continued: “I try for them to give me a name but they’re afraid, because they know if they give me a name I will report it. There are corrupt officers in immigration who are exploiting their office and literally milking members of the Haitian community and that is wrong.

“It’s a two-pronged approach,” he added, “I say to them don’t break the laws, if you do you will face the penalty at the same time, we are saying immigration should act justly and fairly and humanely with all persons as we are all made in the image of God.”

• Mrs Bent-John’s affidavit also detailed alleged conditions at the immigration safe house. See Tuesday’s Tribune for her account of her detention experience.

Comments

joeblow 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We all know that most Immigration officers are patriotic paragons of integrity and the Bahamas is not just another corrupt third world country, right?

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ohdrap4 6 months, 3 weeks ago

yes, all because they are the lowest paid in the service and likely less educated as well.

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joeblow 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That implies that person integrity increases as pay and education increases! That fails to explain our corrupt, educated well paid politicians!

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That is why the Bahamian Government MUST solve this illegal immigration and Dreamers (their children) problem before this explodes any further ........ It is a ticking time bomb for our communities and for the nation's reputation.

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jackbnimble 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You and I and thousands have been saying it for years. The Government is just not listening... nor, I fear, will they ever.

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spoitier 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You are touching on one problem while not recognizing the other. Even if the Bahamas deport all immigrants, there is still a problem with corruption that is independent from illegal immigrants. Growing up there was corruption with getting your drivers license, you could not pass a test if you were train by the CIA without paying the money that the tester required. If you get caught with drugs, all the person would have to do is pay off the officer and most significantly our politicians have been getting kick backs from the beginning. So instead of looking at the illegal alien part of the article, look at the intention of the article that is to point of corruption, which is the real detriment to the Bahamas.

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joeblow 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Why are they referred to as "dreamers" when in reality they are schemers, stealing land, electricity and citizenship while seeking to overwhelm us by the sheer volume of their numbers!

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BahamaPundit 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Sheeprunner12 The bomb has already exploded. The Bahamas is already lost. Years from now, Bahamian Haitians will tell their children of the velvet revolution, when they quietly tookover the Bahamas without a shot fired.

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stillwaters 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yep......just by quietly having babies.

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spoitier 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Not saying there isn't a problem with illegal immigration, also, every country have a carrying capacity and this has been breached in the Bahamas. However, keep your eyes on the elites and their strategy. finally read this quote that is originally from President Johnson that I doctored up a bit. "If you can convince the lowest white man (Bahamian in this case) he's better than the best colored man (Haitian), he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell (By Damn), give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

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Economist 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Very smooth. Nice deflection of the real issue. Good play on peoples basic fears.. BahamaPundit and US Rednecks have a lot in common.

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spoitier 6 months, 3 weeks ago

With a name like Economist, you should have the intelligence to see the point of view. You main to tell me that the elites in the Bahamas wouldn't use the same tactic as the elites in the US, Great Britain, Canada, Australia or any capitalist country to put basic fear in Bahamians so they wouldn't see them bringing extra burden on them and instead get caught up with other issues? Anyways halfway thru writing this post I realize that with a name like Economist you are one of the elites and don't want regular people to see what is the real problem in the Bahamas.

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My2centz 6 months, 3 weeks ago

If the unofficial numbers floating around is somewhat accurate, Bahama Pundit is more realistic than you.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 6 months, 3 weeks ago

As in the past, Brent Symonette will simply give all of these illegal immigration matters the usual lip service and not do a damn thing to address them. We have two very serious threats to our national security: illegal immigrants and the numbers bosses. And Minnis sorely lacks the testicular fortitude needed to tackle these dangerous threats in any meaningful way.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Sheeprunner.....a ticking time bomb, but you and i are the only two people who believe that. They are going to deport us both to Rum Cay and then everybody can be happy.

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Could it have been a TIP?....To Insure Prompt service??? Perhaps lunch at an expensive restaurant?? ...donation to da ball??...shoes for the baby?????.....NO corruption Suh!!..bey dis one Christian nation!!! ...hey!!!.you gat dat rite !! On the other front.....Extremely shrewd of the QC to gain international support and recognition from international Human Rights groups AND with their support of basic infractions THEN take the case to the PRIVY COUNCIL..... Movie rights!!!...1812 overture music...airplane...citi soliel scene....London scene......Denzel.?

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licks2 6 months, 3 weeks ago

SO ARE YOU GUYS SAYING THAT "ALL REPORTS" MADE AGAINST THE IMMIGRATION DEPT. IS TRUE? LETS JUST SAY THAT JA DON'T HAVE A REPUTATION FOR "SCAMMING"

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

....Tek fer instance, in the Business Section todays Tribune Monday, February 26, 2018 page10, there are six (6) PUBLIC NOTICES requesting the public to respond to the Chief Passport officer one ad,, the Minister for Nationality and Citizenship four ads, the Deputy Chief Passport Officer one ad. Now these are serious ads all relating to NATIONAL SECURITY I imagine, TERRORISTS, MONEY LAUNDERERS, TERRORIST FINANCERS, MURDERERS, FUGATIVES, PERSONS WANTED BY UNCLE SAM, INTERPOL ETCETC........BUT READ AND NOTICE THAT NONE HAVE A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE PERSON.....one lives in a suburb of Freeport, one just lives in MARSH HARBOUR, ONE LIVES ALONG JOHNSON RD IN NASSAU, ANOTHER LIVES ON COWPEN ROAD....any d grade fool can tell dese roads miles long, and da places real big...MIND YOU ALL HAVE SOME PO BOX # AS THOUGH THE GENERAL PUBLIC KNOWS YOUR FACE FROM THE PO BOX #.....MIND YOU ALL MAY BE TOTALLY HIGHLY DESIRABLE AND ADMIRABLE CITIZENS...BUT THE PUBLIC CANNOT MAKE A GOOD ANSWER BECAUSE DAS DA WAY IT IS FROM THE OFFICIALS MUDDOES.....If you cant laugh that this National Security Request for the PUBLIC to identify these persons for decafes by these means....then you have to cry .......the govt has spent millions to stick numbers on your house and anyone knows that you need a picture id TO OPEN A BANK ACCOUNT WITH 10DOLLARS DAT DONT PAY NO INTEREST AND CHARGE YOU .......MEDDA SIC DRED,!!

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Nationalist_242 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Y’all could make all the horror stories y’all want the fact remains while y’all speak on talk shows and web forums , nothing is being done to change our issues, Americans voted Trump even though the world looked down on them Trump made it clear he was fighting for AMERICAS BEST INTERESTS, where are the people who are fighting for the Bahamas’ best interests.

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hrysippus 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Yeah and Adolph Hitler really did fight for his country's best interests, as long as you were not communist, homosexual, oj Jewish descent, mentally impaired, Roman Catholic, Romany descent, or socialist. I understand it did not end so well.

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What adds fuel to this fire is that many of these illegals and dreamers seek and receive solace and refuge from these Bahamian & Bahatian bishops, pastors and priests ............. there are 4000 churches in Nassau alone ....... check their congregation attendees and membership files ......... and audit their baptismal and marriage records ..... Are their hands clean??????

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Politicians think about the votes, preachers think about the collection plates!

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

...oh how can any Minister in Govt ask for free help from the Public after dey buys a $1 Tribune wid dis request....also how all dem people longside Cowpen road or Johnson road..muchless Marsh Harbour or Pinedale EMR gon ever find out....what if dey only reads kreyol?...or never hav po box cause dey general delivery.....???.....an all dis going on all dis time...well monkey onkle...moddoes dred!?..

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TalRussell 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Ma Comrades saying Bishop Simeon is no Bahamalander - this man's couldn't possible be more Bahamalander - being he is son of the late much beloved "Crab Lady" Nola Musgrove. I have cherished memories as a little boy of his mommy pushing her baby carriage full baked crabs up and down Market Street as she sold her delicious crabs to all commers.

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birdiestrachan 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Where is Mr; John?? should he not be the one to submit an application for a spousal permit. why was she targeted. ?? This matter should be fully investigated.

Rev Hall if any one is in the Bahamas legally, there is no reason to pay a immigration officer.

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

LOL .....sheeprunner....hate ta disappoint you ...when you ask chech their (Pastors) congregation attendees ..... in Nassau unlike Long Island (2 MPs) ..wid all the politicians, attendees .....you can usually find them in the front rows seats in the Church....as for audits ??? .....who is going to say the Pastor committed fraud and should go to jail?? .......and the politician in the front row????....

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bogart 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We know the good Bishop is a tru tru Bahamian who went yo Haitii to visit some years ago. He has been active in ttying for a better Bahamas mgore than many persons for grnerations and was championing the cause of the Bahamjans who got ripped off by Clico himself included....of course the Board should have been accountable especially any insurance company looks to invest all dose premiums but Clico for some unusual reason was borrowing from banks to buy office buildings which should have been a concern to the Central Bank and also how monies left the country to go to Florida to buy property. Then again while we are at the Clico busoness perhaps we should look at Clico affiliates and principal Lawrence Duprey of Trinidad and other companies espevially oil and gas. The Boafd of Clico Bahamas should have been held accountable and jailed if they were responsible. Not the Bahamian taxpayer.

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JB357 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The board was Lawrence Duprey!! Just so you know. It was his way or no way!! The Bahamian employees were misled just like the public.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

We are a corrupt people - we deserve to be ruled by Haitians.

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spoitier 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I know you are only being sarcastic, but you are halfway correct. In your sarcasm you identified both of the problems but some on this blog only seeing the illegal immigration part which needs to be dealt with but the corruption needs to be dealt with even more than the illegal immigration part because corruption is what got this illegal immigration problem out of hand in the first place.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Wonder how many false 'afterdavids' have been submitted to the Courts and the Immigration Department?

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Spoitier - i appreciate your kind words - however, i'm truly beginning to question how much sarcasm my comment contains.

There has not been ONE person or company brought before the Courts for hiring an illegal since Jan 1st. That is the most serious indicator of our path to destruction.

Why is our Government afraid of Haitians? Or does that fabled secret Treaty with Haiti actually exist? Im really starting to think it exists.

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spoitier 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That secret treaty might be true, because like i said the elites who is also in politics benefits from illegal immigration, in more than one way. I am not sure what side of the political aisle that most Haitians are on but I could remember being in Nassau to get my passport back in late 2011 and I kid you not over 200 people traffic in and out of there and about 90% were Haitians. I am not against Haitians but I believe in securing the borders and if the economy picks up where we need people to work, then we can let some in but seeing the amount of Haitians that were trying to get their passport on that day suggested to me that one of the parties was making a push to gain votes. I could be wrong but the coincidence that all of those Haitians trying to get their passport in that little time that I was there was suspect.

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DDK 6 months, 3 weeks ago

You make much good sense and the corruption seems to continue unabated.

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TheMadHatter 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Most Haitians support the FNM, and no, your eyes did not deceive you that day. I could say more, but won't.

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spoitier 6 months, 3 weeks ago

That was my suspicion because the FNM was in power. What I am saying about the elites which includes the politicians is they created that problem for selfish reason and then make a show of it by rounding up a few Haitians (the ones that are probably with the other party) to appease Bahamians. This is a win-win situation for them because Bahamians enlarge are not noticing other things like corruption and how they are selling out the country and only them (elites)are gaining from it. I will give you guys an example of why Haitians is not the real problem but corruption is, back in the late 70's, early 80's when the economy wasn't that bad, people wasn't really complaining about Haitians in fact if the Haitians did pack up and leave it would've affect most Bahamians even the small % that was complaining because we wouldn't had anyone to do the jobs like garbage collecting and cutting grass that hardly any Bahamians would've done back then. Now, fast forward to today, if these politicians wasn't corrupted we would have all been benefiting from our natural resources and jobs would be so much available that we would be calling for Haitians to do the same jobs that we were so prideful to do back then because our carrying capacity would be greater.

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Gotoutintime 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Corruption is indeed, alive and well!!

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hrysippus 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The immigration depart ment, . . .. Has officers with morals bent, . . . . . .. They take long dollars from the Haitian poor, Disgracing their uniform, breaking the law,. . . ... Taking them to court is not enough, .... . .. So Fly them all to Port au Prince, . ... ... .. . .. and leave them in the buff, ......... ..... .... ..... .. Maybe they'll meet up with someone that they know, . . ...... Someone who gave them money to stay on down and low, .. ... And perhaps they'll have enough funds to pay, . . .. A sloop captain to sail them back one day.

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JB357 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I can believe it! Asking for cash and a feel to go along with it.

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