By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman and Senator Fred Mitchell yesterday suggested the US State Department’s updated visa requirements “seems to go too far,” as he criticised the Minnis administration for failing to speak up for Bahamians.
The updated application will require applicants to provide social media identifiers, keeping in line with President Donald Trump’s March 6, 2017, Memorandum on Implementing Heightened Screening and Vetting of Applications for Visas and other Immigration Benefits and Section 5 of Executive Order 13780.
In response yesterday, Mr Mitchell said the move was in line with the United States’ overarching goal of making it more difficult for foreigners to gain access into that country.
The former foreign affairs minister said the PLP has long held the policy that Bahamians should be permitted completely visa-free access to America, on par with the allowances granted to Americans traveling to The Bahamas.
Currently, Bahamians are permitted some forms of visa-free travel to America with a police record. However, this is only possible when traveling from The Bahamas through US Pre-Clearance locations at Bahamian airports in Freeport and Nassau.
“Well, you know, in line with modern practices, from the time they started this business of fingerprints and all this other stuff I thought they went too far,” Mr Mitchell told The Tribune. “Again, this seems to go too far. But that just seems to be the order of the day with entry into the United States, becoming more and more difficult to do so and I don’t expect for it to change in the near term.”
When asked his position on whether The Bahamas should seek a more beneficial visa-waiver agreement with the US, Mr Mitchell added: “I don’t think that there is anything like that on (the FNM’s) agenda.
“I think they accept that whatever the US says, goes. It is a difference in philosophy, but very difficult managing the relationship because, in some instances, the Bahamian public is so hyper-sensitive to the idea that the United States will retaliate against us by shutting down the pre-clearance and then making it more difficult for people to get visas to go to the United States.
“But our view as the PLP is that there needs to be reciprocities on this, in the sense that, since Americans have free access to the Bahamas, Bahamians should have free access to the US,” he added.
When contacted yesterday, both Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield and Immigration Minister Brent Symonette declined comment.
stillwaters 3 years, 11 months ago
Stay out of the USA's business. Something that occurs a lot by stupid people always cause others to have to suffer.
sheeprunner12 3 years, 11 months ago
Soooooooo, can he go to Washington DC and sit with Trump and have it rescinded???
proudloudandfnm 3 years, 11 months ago
I stopped travelling to the US about 10 years ago now. And I honestly don't miss it. Just say no folks. You can get whatever you want from the US online.
moncurcool 3 years, 11 months ago
He for 10 years was the Minister of Foreign Affairs to Dubai to establish relations, but never once fought to get visa free access travel for Bahamians. Now talking about what the FNM won't do. Cry shame on this nonsense. Besides, does he not follow the child who sits in the Oval Office and his childish antics to keep everyone out?
BahamaRed 3 years, 11 months ago
Maybe if we were more vigilant and proactive with our immigration situation, we'd not be in the mess we are in now. Stop worrying about how the USA deal with their immigration issues and worry about how the Bahamas can deal with our own.
realfreethinker 3 years, 11 months ago
Typical plp. We are not entitled to anything as far as the US is concerned. If this clown was really interested in helping Bahamians,why didn't he address this issue when he was minister of foreign flying.
BMW 3 years, 11 months ago
if you think about it fweddy we need the USA more than they need us. Why did you not do more for visa free travel when you were minister , instead you were flying everywhere chasing what ever it is you like.
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