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120 Obtain Citizenship In 3 Months

Brent Symonette

Brent Symonette

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

THE government has approved more than 100 applications for citizenship since the Citizenship Committee was formed in February and is on pace, if the rate is sustained, to naturalise nearly 400 people by year-end, according to Immigration Minister Brent Symonette.

Mr Symonette told The Tribune the Citizenship Committee had processed a total of 120 applications as of last week, since its first meeting about three months ago.

The committee meets every two weeks to review applications of people who have clearly a constitutional right – ie they were born in the Bahamas and applied between the ages of 18 and 19 – to be registered as citizens.

Mr Symonette said: “The commission (met last Thursday), they’re discussing 20 nationals, and we’ve done a total of 120 since the commissioner has started. They meet every two weeks. I’m swearing in 35 people on (Thursday), I do that every two weeks. These are numbers that we don’t see. But yet I still have a backlog.

“Let’s say I take 30,” he continued. “I swear in 30 persons a week, every two weeks, that’s 50 a month (on average), that’s 600 nationals a year.

“See unfortunately we haven’t sensitised the public on the flip side. And the majority of these (applicants) are the people y’all been jumping up about.

“Ninety percent (of applicants sworn in are) born here, lived here all their lives and everything else. I would guess that 30 of the 35 I swore in last week were Haitian nationals,” he added.

There were 3,331 citizenship approvals between 2012 and April 2017, with Mr Symonette telling Parliament last year the rate appeared to increase toward the end of the Christie administration’s last term.

One thousand nine hundred and sixty-nine people were approved for citizenship between 2012 to 2015; 789 people were approved in the year 2016 and 573 received citizenship between January and April.

Mr Symonette provided an updated track of the government’s efforts during an interview with The Tribune on progress made in the sector as the FNM administration marks the anniversary of its first year.

He underscored a critical need for an immigration debate void of emotional pandering over the citizenship backlogs, and pragmatic review of the sustainability of current immigration laws.

“What happens is the minute I swear you in,” he said, “you then apply, the children born before you are naturalised.

“So every time I swear one person in, I then create three or four children who want to be registered because their mom registered. So you can do the math.”

Mr Symonette said he found the status quo, which affords people born here a direct path to citizenship but disadvantages Bahamians born abroad, personally offensive.

“We’ve had two referendums with regard to married women,” he said. “I find that offensive. “Other people might not, but a Bahamian woman married to a non-Bahamian man has a child abroad and that child is not Bahamian.

“A lot of women go to the States to have children because of medical reasons, or if you’re in Abaco because of proximity reasons – I find it offensive.

“If you were born in Miami because you lived in Abaco, and your child was born in Ft Lauderdale, second generation born outside of the Bahamas is not Bahamian, so we have it in our Constitution at the moment.

“So how can we then deny a Bahamian that right and then say ‘oh no you can’t deny the other fella that right.’ Uh-uh that’s offensive.

“The only difference (between second generation Bahamians and naturalised citizens) is you were born outside the country.

“But we ask the question could we restrict,” he added, “and that’s what our Immigration Act will look at.”

Draft amendments to the Immigration Act are now under review by the Law Commission and stakeholders were slated to meet on Monday, according to Mr Symonette, who forecast a total revamp of the act over the next several months.

Comments

John 2 years, 3 months ago

And the rich get richer...,

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Ma Comrade Brent, me too would guess that when you're math says out of the 35 you swore-in as new citizens - 30 were from one certain group of nationals - it means the immigration system you're swearing-in under is totally F#cked. We all saw the photo with you pointing to the stacks unprocessed immigration applications you had threatened to approve without proper checking and processing which begs me to asks - just because you have certain documentations saying you were born here - don't mean they were. Right? If you approve 30 under a broken system - then the to follow other 120 children's are basing their applications on their "parent's" questionable documents. Right? First, fix a broken immigration processing system before being too eager be regularizing a whole bunch new applicants. I'm assuming the photograph of the thousands applications sitting on your ministerial office floor also contained the 35 you approved from the one group of nationals? Amen!

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bogart 2 years, 3 months ago

....how can this be when the PUBLIC is requuesred to give notice to the MINISTER responsible for nationality and Citizenship as advertised in the public notices newapers ads .....when there is no photo to identify the person....have to buy the newapers to read ad even you is Iving on out island where no newspapers.....ad should also be in creole fer people to read.....applicants must give better address especially now govt number houses than say dey living like Carmichael rd east or POBox address or the Mudd etc.....next who knows the applicant when dey using some ferreign name dat Bahamians dont know dem by in the Bahamas, 'specially when no photo to see who dey is...????

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

"I would guess that 30 of the 35 I swore in last week were Haitian nationals, ..."

Funny Brent. You don't have to guess. You have access to the info (which we don't) and OF COURSE they are Haitian nationals. Duh.

Only half-starved, overbreeding people with no desire for civilized living standards would want to live here.

It's time for any Bahamian with sense to start investigating the 197 member countries of the U.N. and find out which if any would allow us in as refugees. We are being pushed out of our own country, by our own government.

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joeblow 2 years, 3 months ago

The Bahamian government has granted citizenship to persons who are not entitled to it in the past! People still seem confused about who is constitutionally entitled to citizenship so why is it being granted before closing the door on that concern?

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

joeblow...maybe cause Minnis has heard the word about a vote of no confidence being planned and knows his only defense is a snap election. These new citizens will be strategically placed in the appropriate constituencies with shiny new voters cards.

The ones put in McAlpine's constituency may even be asked to vote PLP ....LOL.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Ma comrades, I fundamentally disagree with Brent based on a photo of Brent pointing at difficult to verify for processing stacks immigration applications of 1000 high - the common sense approach would have been to grant temporary right to work in country certificates until a broken current immigration is scratched to make way for one where at minimum If you were born on Bahamaland soil, proof can be assured to be a document proving such ... "True Copy of a Registration Document and Registration of Live Birth, certifying your mother did in fact give birth you somewhere or someplace on or within colony islands. Maybe they from now on should be maid keep proof of babies naval string, with pictures. Comrades, the system does not just need slight tweaking corrective, it must begin a new... more so, Brent's reputation as citizenship granting minister - long precedes 10th May 2017. An old face doing the same F#uck up.

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DDK 2 years, 3 months ago

Comrade, you are talking much good sense today!

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, learning bake my specialty brownies later in the PM hours.

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Dawes 2 years, 3 months ago

So basically go against what the constitution says. If these people are entitled to citizenship per the constitution then they should be given it. If they aren't then they shouldn't. If we the Bahamian people do not like this part of the constitution then change it. But don't go against what the constitution says because you don't like the outcome.

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TalRussell 2 years, 3 months ago

Ma Comrade Dawes, back on February 1, 2018, didn't Brent say that he intends brungs forefront the longstanding issue of fraudulent documentation in support of immigration approval. Brent went on to affirm there was already on the books an “overriding provision” that being born in the country did not mandate automatic citizenship..... seems Brent gone lost his way since 1st February 2018.... when all he did as minister immigration was to appoint a special 20 man's and woman's commission to process the same fraudulent documentation. It's the fraudulent documents that is the problem, right?

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tetelestai 2 years, 3 months ago

Dawes, the constitution does not say that they are entitled to citizenship. It says that they have the right to apply for citizenship. Said application, obviously, can be rejected.

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ohdrap4 2 years, 3 months ago

the constitution says they can be REGISTERED as citizens.

ask the learned QC.

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tetelestai 2 years, 3 months ago

Please refer me to the appropriate Articles in the constitution that says this.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 3 months ago

All Brent Symonette ever does is look down on us from his lofty high horse. This man's involvement in politics is all about increasing his family's wealth and the wealth of his crony business partners. He cannot point to anything of any great import that he has ever accomplished for the Bahamian people throughout his many years in politics. As was the case while he served in previous Ingraham-led cabinets, Brent will do nothing as Minister of Immigration to help deal with the real issues underlying our illegal immigrant problems. From the standpoint of Minnis and the FNM party, Brent's only purpose is to "open doors" that might not otherwise be opened in terms of fund raising and some small influence in dealing with matters involving the U.S. and certain other foreign governments. Frankly we would all be better off if Minnis chucked Brent overboard and kept him away from active politics

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realitycheck242 2 years, 3 months ago

I hope the new Citizens could sing the National Anthem, Recite the pledge of Alegence, Know who our national hero's are what is our national bird and tree.

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ohdrap4 2 years, 3 months ago

does one need to know how to spell allegiance to recite the pledge of allegiance?

luckily we do not need to spell allegiance to post at the tribune.

Who are the national heroes? there are hundreds of them. there are also hundreds of living legends, some who have even died.

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bogart 2 years, 3 months ago

...so no matter if dey can sing as good as ronnie butler..do heel an toe...hully gully...plait the maypolr standing on dey head....dey still speaks the foreign language ...bonded by hardtimes and kinship with foreign family, cousins just arrived looking to get strait....nobody ever gets charged for hatbouring illegals, hiring them etc........international publications say we speaks english an creole....so accept it..you are a country of two peoples..two languages...two cultures....an yinna dont hav to get no lady tresspassing of yinna front porch ...

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 3 months ago

Who are these paper Bahamians?????? ........... WHO?????????

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bogart 2 years, 3 months ago

Maany Bahamian have spoken on the Bahamian unique culture imbued with strong english broughtupsies, african gullah language influences, english mamnerisms....strong ties with out American and Candadian neighbours from whiye and black loyalists ....why some even celebrate thanksgiving, guy fawkes...etc... been lost by the small population as greater and greater numbers of Haitian migrants in their quest keep infiltrating our borders legally or illegal AND assisted by lax or currupt officials settle into the country. Loose legislation and international agreements also encourage illegals migration such as our Bahamian Legislaton on every child is entitlrd to a Bahamian Education. THERE IS NO CLAUSE IN THE BAHAMIAN EDUCATION LEGISLATION THAT SAYS ANYTHING ABOUT ILLEGAL MIGRANT CHILDREN!!!!!!!!!!! Despite maany stories half the classes speak creole there is nothing wrong with this and they graduate speaking creole celebtate there is still nothing wrong with this and they know the Bahamian education but by choice can wear a tee shirt with another countrys flag ..there is still nothing wrong with this.its democratic rights.......NOW what is priorities is that the BAHAMIAN LEGISLATORS can pass Legislation on the rights of turtles...rights of grouper fish....crawfish...... conch sizes definition of conch sizes and what is legal and what one can be charged with having in onnes possession.....is a matter of what is necessary....

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TheMadHatter 2 years, 3 months ago

Bogart, i would support a complete swap of countries with Haiti. Every single Haitian must leave Haiti and come here and every Bahamian must go there.

That would be great. Haiti is all one connected land. We would save a ton of money on our now duplicated govt services. We would turn Haiti into a tourism and industrial powerhouse.

In three years the sloops would be leaving the Bahamas headed south toward Haiti filled with Haitians "fleeing poverty and oppression".

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joeblow 2 years, 3 months ago

How right you are! Its a mindset!

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SP 2 years, 3 months ago

Who does Brent Symonette represent in Parliament? How could a billionaire begin to understand what is important to the average Bahamian and our children?

We do not need the likes of Brent Symonette making decisions on behalf of struggling, Bahamians competing against Haitians and other expats to make a living.

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joeblow 2 years, 3 months ago

I finally realized the best thing I can do for me and my family is to say I live in a shanty and pretend to speak creole. I would immediately get more benefits from the government than I am now. Who knows, maybe even some crown land in Abaco or government housing I could rent!

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screwedbahamian 2 years, 3 months ago

Very true. What a pathetic day for TRUE BAHAMIANS. Additionally, the NIB will retroactively register them for pensions and government housing. When TRUE BAHAMIANS like myself had my pension benefits taken away by the PAPA Ingraham government in 2011 and told to go to hell. Hopefully that will not occur again in order to funds all the" FORIEGN BAHAMIANS" being bestowed by " GOVERNMENTS IN THE BAHAMAS. With the high rate of unemployment and another 6 to 7 thousand students coming out of school, why is there not an annual QUOTA SYSTEM implemented.

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hrysippus 2 years, 3 months ago

What a lot of racist hate-filled posts this article has engendered. It is interesting that not one of the authors of these posts is actually working and contributing to building the country. Not one of them has ever started a business and created employment for themselves or others. Each and everyone of them is a fiscal parasite living off money earned by others. Most have also only been employed in a government job. Two of the posters are paid by a well-known and wealthy plp member to post negative comments about the existing government in power today. And they all go to church on Sunday, go figure.

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joeblow 2 years, 3 months ago

It should be obvious race is not an issue because all concerned are black. The issue is the giving away of the birthright of Bahamians to those not constitutionally entitles for obvious political reasons. If you do not understand the frustration that is unfortunate. And no, not every poster is a "fiscal parasite" or lives off a government job!

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sealice 2 years, 3 months ago

so 120 more houses in Lyford and Old Fort will now have legally clean yards.... great work guys....

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