219 total votes.
By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Minnis administration should consider passing a law that would retroactively naturalise all people born in The Bahamas at any point, attorney Fred Smith has said.
In a statement to The Tribune over the weekend, Mr Smith implored the government to consider legislation that would automatically deem any person born in The Bahamas, irrespective of their parentage, Bahamian citizens.
He was responding to a Tribune article that detailed a naturalised Bahamian mother's push to get her "stateless" daughter the necessary Bahamian documents needed to travel to the United States for medical treatment.
Ginette Caty, 34, was naturalised as a Bahamian citizen in 2013 but her daughter Taranique Thurston will have to wait until her 18th birthday before she can apply for Bahamian citizenship.
Taranique has been diagnosed with a brain cyst.
She was due to have treatment last week but it was delayed because of her status. Jackson Memorial Hospital in Florida agreed to postpone her treatment until her travel status could be resolved.
Due to her mother's naturalisation process, Taranique is currently registered in The Bahamas as a non-Bahamian born to a foreign mother and Bahamian father, who are unmarried.
In his statement, Mr Smith said: "(This is the case) because of the discriminatory laws in the Constitution depriving children who are born of a Bahamian father out of wedlock to non-citizen mothers whether born in or out of The Bahamas aren't automatically Bahamian citizens.
"(We need) a simple act passed by Parliament, we don't need a referendum, that simply says, retroactively, that all persons born in The Bahamas at any time shall be deemed automatically to be citizens.
"This will allow them to be positive contributors to the economy," he said. "My God, it would clear up so much of the challenges this little nation faces."
Taranique's case also brought a call from Rights Bahamas yesterday for a change in the immigration laws.
Dawrin Thompson chairman of Rights Bashamas Education Committee released a statement sayign: "Taranique Thurston, 15, was born in The Bahamas, as was her mother, and father. However, due to our non-inclusive, discriminatory laws she is still considered a non-Bahamian in the eyes of the law. Imagine that, born to two Bahamian parents, and ultimately being considered "stateless" until the age of 18 when she will then be given the "right" to apply for citizenship. Which, of course, she will still have to wait a decade to receive due to our notoriously inefficient government processes.
"This unfortunate situation sheds light on our archaic system of immigration and begs for some manner of immigration reform. We are now faced with a situation where a child cannot be helped due to her "status" according to our governments' laws and regulations.
"Rights Bahamas would love to see a change in our immigration system. We'd love to see an allowance made for this young, bright Bahamian gem. We believe she deserves a chance to be able to make a difference and inspire her own change within her community, country, and even the world at large.
"We plead to the government to allow a change in the 'Law books' if even just to help save the soul of a child in need. Every person that is Bahamian at heart should feel compelled to petition for Taranique's life. She deserves to live. She deserves to be given an opportunity at life. She deserves the backing of every Bahamian citizen with a heart. She deserves our love.
"We will stand for Taranique for as long as it takes to ensure her safe trip to Miami for her surgery until the day she lands safely here in her homeland, The Bahamas.
The government has twice tried to address the issue through a referendum, during the second Ingraham administration and the second Christie administration. Both attempts were rejected by the electorate.
The issue relating specifically to children born in The Bahamas to an unwed Bahamian father and a non-Bahamian mother was the third question put to Bahamians in 2016's constitutional referendum. It was rejected, with 28,246 people voting yes to changing the Constitution to give an unwed Bahamian father the same right that a Bahamian woman has to pass citizenship to a child born in or out of wedlock and 54,890 people voting no.
The Minnis administration has said it plans to address this issue and others through amendments to current immigration laws.