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As Another 100 Migrants Land In Exuma, Pm Warns: They’Re A Threat To Our Country

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force apprehended 101 Haitian migrants last Saturday including 84 males, 16 females and one child.

Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force apprehended 101 Haitian migrants last Saturday including 84 males, 16 females and one child. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune Staff

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

AS illegal migrant landings have increased in recent weeks, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said the government remains committed to aggressively dealing with the country’s immigration problems which he said poses a serious threat to major sectors of society.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, the prime minister said he is aware there are many Bahamians who feel not much has been done to stop illegal immigrants, but he insisted “a lot” has been accomplished.

Questioned further, Dr Minnis said initiatives by his government would become clearer in his upcoming national address, which is expected to air soon.

Officials have been busy apprehending Haitian migrants who have endured the treacherous journey by sea from their homes in search of a better way of life here in The Bahamas.

Royal Bahamas Defence Force officials say this time of year is considered the peak migrant smuggling season due to windy weather conditions which aid their sloops. On Saturday, the RBDF apprehended 101 Haitian nationals in Northern Exuma. Another 54 were picked up in Abaco last Thursday.

Since the start of the new year, 304 migrants have been intercepted in three separate incidents, officials said, while 600-700 were apprehended in 2018.

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Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis. Photo: Donavan McIntosh

“I have had long conversations and communication with the Director of Immigration (Clarence Russell) and we speak with one voice and basically with the same voice in terms of how (we) will attack it,” Dr Minnis told this newspaper.

“We continue to deal very aggressively with this matter because it can be a threat not only to our economy, but it can be a threat also to our national security.

“I think Bahamians must do their part and likewise the government will do its part and put all the infrastructure in place to deal with it as best as we can but every Bahamian must do their part and take on their responsibility because a continuous influx of illegal immigration will affect our health system, will affect our educational system and eventually most of all affect our economy, which would affect our livelihood.”

He added: “We’ve accomplished a lot when it comes to the direction we’ve moved in, but we can do even better. One must not ever sleep on its successes or its laurels. One must always try to do better and be better.”

The government will have a tough sell trying to convince Bahamians that much has changed when it comes to illegal immigration.

In November, Press Secretary Anthony Newbold struggled to explain what changed about the country’s enforcement of immigration laws more than a year after Dr Minnis set a deadline for illegal immigrants to leave the country or face apprehension.

October 2018 marked the one year anniversary since Dr Minnis made the hardline announcement in the House of Assembly, declaring that if illegal immigrants failed to leave by December 31, 2017, they will be “aggressively pursued and deported”.

With no apparent change in aggression, Mr Newbold has suggested Bahamians were wrong to expect visible signs of ramped-up enforcement activities.

“I think one of the things is when we think about enforcing immigration laws, people think and this depends on how jaded you might be, people think of buses in the middle of the night rousting people out of their homes,” he said at the time.

“Nah nobody’s going to do that. What (the prime minister) says is ‘do what you’re supposed to do, follow the law, apply, get yourself straight or you are going to be prosecuted’. That is happening. What else is a big part of that is what is happening with the shanty towns. Of course nothing is happening with the shanty towns, it’s a matter before the courts. He says I’m going to enforce the law. We find you we are going to prosecute you, we’re going to send you to jail, whatever it is, the minister responsible has been speaking to that, that is what is happening but if people expect you will see buses riding the streets of Nassau rousting people out of their homes at night that’s not whats going to happen.”

Dr Minnis had suggested there would be increased prosecution of people who employ illegal immigrants, but Mr Newbold couldn’t provide figures indicating whether such an increase has taken place last year.

Instead, he said “whenever (people have been found to employ illegal immigrants prosecution) has happened.”

officials have taken a hard look at past failures that have allowed mass amounts of illegal migrants to work their way up the archipelago undetected.

In November 2017, there was a significant public outcry after an empty sloop was found on the shoreline of Adelaide Village.

Then Immigration Director William Pratt said at the time he “had no idea” how such a large sloop could land so close to the RBDF Coral Harbour Base and go undetected. He suggested the RBDF should perhaps “improve their surveillance”.

Authorities said they believed the immigrants who landed at the time had help from people already on New Providence.

Referring to incidents like this, Mr Dames said: “Those mishaps have put us in a position where we now value every bit of information we can obtain. The (RBDF) is working to saturate our waters with manpower. The strategy as I’ve said is to be there. We are there, always.

“We’ve studied the routes that have been a struggle in the past and we are there in numbers. We’ve taken a look at the locations that have showed no problems, almost to see if we can learn what exactly is working there and how we can utilise those strategies in some other areas,” Mr Dames added.

“But to keep it brief, we’ve relied on quality intelligence at every turn. We will not relent. We will not let up because the Bahamian people want us to keep going. This is good, but it will not be good enough until the numbers are down to zero across the board.”

RBDF personnel over the weekend referred to the earlier winter months as the “active season,” insisting that migrants depend on heavy wind-flow to assist their vessels in manoeuvring the seas.

“Basically, this is the winter season where we have strong winds and these are basically sailing vessels that would need the wind to move from the south to the north. So this is the main reason why they would use this (time), December, January (and) February, to try and move to the Bahamas,” Commander Clarence Dean, RBDF commander of operations said.

He added that the agency has expanded its efforts in waters around New Providence, Exuma, Abaco and Eleuthera; referring to the areas as high-traffic spots.

According to Commander Dean, the RBDF captured more than 600 migrants last year.

Comments

DDK 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"They’re a threat to major sections of our society " No fooling, Mr. P.M. Now that the shanty towns have been eliminated as promised, they will not have such a strong welcoming committee.

"a continuous influx of illegal immigration will affect our health system, will affect our educational system and eventually most of all affect our economy, which would affect our livelihood.” Such utter nonsense. These systems have long ago been negatively affected by rampant, unchecked illegal immigration. STOP PROVIDING THESE RESOURCES. If the bleeding heart humanitarians start bleating, throw the ball at them and challenge them to find a new spot on this earth for them and become their providers. Alternatively let them arrange a cruise for them to Haiti and go with them. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

By the way, why was there no mention of the effect on crime?

Why do we not have a list of all those prosecuted for hiring illegals?

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TheMadHatter 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Because NOBODY (except that ONE guy in FPO) has been so prosecuted. There is no law against hiring illegals (as Mitchel promised) - companies/businesses are threatened not to hire again or they will be charged with "harbouring illegals". Just threatened though...never charged.

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, no - while 91,409 comrades voting red shirts 10 May, 2017 have wondered, besides from cooking he pots "gifted" stewed fish - what else might we PM be busy he self in? It's official, the PM has been takin' creole square dance classes. Rumour has it, some PM's neighbors been calling 911 in bid get the PM to tone-down playing his too enthusiastically loud creole country dance music. Yes, no - true?

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Clamshell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Tal, respectfully, have you ever considered writing clear, grammatically correct sentences, without all “da sauce”, which might help you get your point across? Half the time we dinna know wha’ you givin’ speaks to.

The phrase “besides cookin’ he pots gifted stew fish” can be awfully difficult to parse.

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JackArawak 3 months, 2 weeks ago

thank you Clamshell, I never read his writing, too bad as he may have legitimate points to share.

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joeblow 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Take their biometrics and enact a law that says that anyone who enters this country illegally will never be able to apply for residency or work permits and any children they have will be denied the right to apply for residency or citizenship. Will the government do that? I doubt it!

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, or no ma comrade JoeBlow, wouldn't a blame da parent offspring policy not conflict with the financial glue which holds red shirts together as a political party. Yes, no?

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Clamshell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Biometrics? Half the government has difficulty making change for a dollar, and you’re talking biometrics? Dream on, brother, dream on ...

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birdiestrachan 3 months, 2 weeks ago

doc is a true, true. liar he believes his own LIES. He said they have accomplished much when it comes to illegal Immigration. .. doc that is not true. It is the same just a different day.

Perhaps the illegals are coming to spend time with their cousins them. in every facet of the Government.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

With no apparent change in aggression, Mr Newbold has suggested Bahamians were wrong to expect visible signs of ramped-up enforcement activities.

In other words, as long as these illegal immigrants are not aggressive, the corrupt Minnis-led FNM government will not ramp-up law enforcement activities in order to round them up and send them back to their home country. THERE YOU HAVE IT BLUNTLY SAID.....MINNIS AIN'T GONNA BE NO MORE DIFFERENT THAN PINDLING, INGRAHAM AND CHRISTIE WHEN IT COMES TO TACKLING THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION PROBLEM THAT ALREADY HAS SEVERELY UNDERMINED NOT ONLY OUR NATIONAL SECURITY, BUT ALSO OUR SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC WELL BEING. What a joke! LMAO

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DDK 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Thought he meant aggression on part of our Government?? But in any event, it seems nothing of any import has achieved anything of any import. Just look around you, listen to the spoken language on the streets, it is soooo visible and audible. There is also quite an increasing influx from a rather large island to our south-west.

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sheeprunner12 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Such a Trumpian statement ............ poor, illiterate, unskilled Haitians have been a threat to our country for 50 years.

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bogart 3 months, 2 weeks ago

IT...AINT..DA ILLEGALS WHO IS A THREAT..... TO DA COUNTRY......AS AS AS AS MUCH AS .....1. DA Gubbermint people who gets a monthly full time salary....been employed for years an the ILLEGALS boat landing mussey on top dere base an cant find them....2.....Big threat from gubbermint officials who can apprehends illegals by the thousands........but cannot find out where they living to charge persons for harbouring illegals.....3. Biggest threat from plenty ILLEGALS caught ....but hardly no employer charged or fined LESS..than what they would pay the illegal iffs they been paying slave wages for a year.......4....Big threat from .....why gubbermint spending hundreds of millions of dollars....pore taxpayers dollars....DEFENCE BOATS....but ....gubbermknt can give ....FREENESS.....to illegal ....bypassing... da boats....hiding in da shanty towns and childrens enrolled in govt schools an educators...national security cannot ask who their parents are...???....5. BIGGER THREAT .....from gubbermint officials paid salaries...employed fer life.....an all these illegal shanty towms structures....by the hindreds an hundreds being...ot been built....an NO GUBBERNMENT official been fired...for not doing Buildongs Controls...Environment....laws....illegal constructions....6...BIGGER threat from gubbernmint officials....facilating..students in country ...but they are not yet citizens...or status..gubbermint aint checking for...an waits till a situation arises wid these chillrens....7....BIGGER problem is gubbermint officisls ....can have files piled up for uears ...not ,aking decisions....8....BIG time problem....is gubbermint officials findong erry conceivable way to tax...Bahamian busnesses..but seems those in shantytown gets off ...9....BIG threat....from....for years decades.....GUBBERMKNT secret service officials....can finds plenty...illegal drigs...boat captain....break up crime rings.....lower crime......BUT CANNOT CATCH AN lower these Illegal human smuggling operators....10....Bigger threat is ....continued instability in Haiti that all Caricom Members are..NOT trying to resolve.....an watching bulk of illegals head in Bahamas direction alone........

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yeahyasee 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Since the start of the new year, 304 migrants have been intercepted in three separate incidents, officials said, while 600-700 were apprehended in 2018.

It's January 7th... and that's what have been intercepted imagine what got through!

“Nah nobody’s going to do that. What (the prime minister) says is ‘do what you’re supposed to do, follow the law, apply, get yourself straight or you are going to be prosecuted’. That is happening. What else is a big part of that is what is happening with the shanty towns. Of course nothing is happening with the shanty towns, it’s a matter before the courts. He says I’m going to enforce the law. We find you we are going to prosecute you, we’re going to send you to jail, whatever it is, the minister responsible has been speaking to that, that is what is happening but if people expect you will see buses riding the streets of Nassau rousting people out of their homes at night that’s not whats going to happen.”

LOL

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bogart 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes...seems quirky there in an illegal breaking Sovereign nation border territory ....required to follow the law an turn themselves in...defeats the purpose of being here..likely none would do so.......an what possibility of applying...and getting straight....dey done broke the law wid no legal papers...Somewhere in there should be the possibility of by doing so turning yerself in...and deportatipn.....to be considered for points towards successful re entry application.....points also for persons who demonstrated good points...accumulated assets....etc.........Funny the Haitian Pastors Association didnt seem to be enlisted as a part of repatriation exercise.....but instead helps with the Re housing for settlement of Shanty town persons.....

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John 3 months, 2 weeks ago

First of all when the Bahamas becomes a member of the WTO, it will be required to relax its immigration policies, not strengthen them. Secondly as a member of Caricom, did Minnis ever discuss this vexing illegal immigration problem with member states? What have other Caribbean nations done or are willing to do to help eliminate economic hardship in Haiti. Rounding up migrants or intercepting them at sea is costly and not effective enough. Especially with Donald Trump in the White House. The Bahamas is now the preferred country to run to.

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, or no - if by some fluke this US president does not be one-term president - I can see comrade Americans by the thousands overstaying their visit our colony of islands - not rushin' return back their homeland. Yes, no - wouldn't be long before Americans risk their lives homemade boats seeking refugee resettlement?

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paul_vincent_zecchino 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Actually, Tal, the American marxstream commie media is full of shite.

Contrary to what these pressniks claim, Americans are quite delighted with President Trump's stewardship of the nation and want him for a second term.

However, should any of these commie demsheviks cheat their way to the Presidency in 2020 you will see Americans fleeing.

The Demsheviks these days are a vindictive, violent lot out to destroy anyone who isn't a demshevik.

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TheMadHatter 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Minnis needs to stop these racist statements. He's picking on them just because they are Haitian. Clearly forgetting that these islands are the former Northern Haitian Territories (NHT) which the Bahamas stole from them in 1823.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Fake news. Sadly though, I suspect you really don't know the true history behind our geographical heritage. LMAO

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TheMadHatter 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Muddasik.....you can take from my comment that our history and heritage dont matter - they are both now being forfeit. Countr6 being given away. First Transport and now Social Services. Both Haitian related posts. Wonder what booby traps he's been setting up?

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pingmydling 3 months, 2 weeks ago

" These people are a threat to our national security" P.M. Hubert Minnis. " These people are a threat to our national security" Pres. Donald Trump. These two clowns talked on the phone last week. Donald advised Hubert to build a wall from Turks to Cuba!!!!!! ( Tweedle dumb & Tweedle dummy)

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

In addition to being a self-confessed 'Never Trumper', I suspect you're either of Haitian heritage or married to a Haitian. How else could you possibly not see what has happened to The Bahamas as a result of the Haitian invasion that successive PLP and FNM governments have allowed to go unchecked. It was SLOP and Loftus Roker who swung the door wide open for Haitian invasion that is now choking our country to death.

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paul_vincent_zecchino 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Loftus Roker opened the door to the Haitians? So much for his 'Bahamas for Bahamians' stance.

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Gotoutintime 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Don't worry--They got QC Freddy on speed dial!

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TalRussell 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes, or no ma comrade JackArawak, so you thinks I should post more grammatical Jamaican. Yes, no?

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ThisIsOurs 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Threat or not,I really hate to see black people arranged like they on the Middle Passage

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SP 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"Pm Warns: They’Re A Threat To Our Country"....No shyt sherlock, exactly when did Minnis wake up and notice that?

Maybe now Minnis has the impetuous he obviously lacked to begin fining businesses that hire illegals. If he just does nothing "again" and goes back into hibernation we'll know he's just as full of shyt as his predecessor without the stupid dance!

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pingmydling 3 months, 2 weeks ago

"well mudda take sic" ; I am very sorry to hear that your mother is not in good health. Maybe if she had given her intellectually challenged son even a modicum of education she would be in a more satisfactory condition. ( We Haitians smart eh?)

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

She passed 12 years ago....but don't let that stop you. And "Yes", being the Haitian invasion supporter that you are, you are probably much smarter than SLOP, Ingraham, Christie and Minnis combined. You and your kind have certainly outsmarted every government The Bahamas has had since its independence in 1973, and the number of illegal Haitian immigrants in our country today are a testament to that simple fact. So give yourself a pat on the back. ROWL

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pingmydling 3 months, 2 weeks ago

What is this "mudda take sic" crap. Is it meant to advertise that you are a bona fide Bahamian patriot? I think not. "Me and my kind" & I quote really smells of fascist sympathies that you no doubt harbour subliminaly. I am able to recommend a competent psychiatrist for you to help you over your 12 year old passing.problem. Keep the Haitians,, send your kind back to Bedlam. ( does that sound like a Haitian to you -- moron ?)

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Well_mudda_take_sic 3 months, 2 weeks ago

Now don't you start aggressively waving that Haitian flag of yours in front of me! ROWL, with some GROWL added for emphasis.

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