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We May Get A Black Eye Over Immigration, Warns Bishop

Bishop Laish Boyd

Bishop Laish Boyd

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@tribunemedia.net

ANGLICAN Archbishop Laish Boyd has warned that the country could “very easily get a black eye” from the international community if it does not handle the illegal immigration issue in a sensitive manner.

The religious leader also recommended that a board or authority be set up to monitor immigration issues. This board would focus on visiting the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, and other shelters housing migrants, as well as investigate claims of mistreatment or discrimination against migrants, among other things.

Bishop Boyd, pictured right, also called for calmer heads to prevail in the immigration debate, saying there is extreme rhetoric on each side of the argument.

His comments to the 116 Session of Synod at the Christ Church Cathedral on Monday night came after international groups hit out at the Minnis administration’s decision to resume deportation of undocumented migrants just weeks after Hurricane Dorian devastated Abaco and Grand Bahama, leaving thousands of people, including migrants, misplaced.

“The topic of migration is an extremely hot topic worldwide, and Hurricane Dorian has pushed the issue to the forefront of our national agenda all too suddenly, once again,” Bishop Boyd told the congregation.

“I now reiterate some sentiments that I expressed in synod charges that I delivered in the past. Our country could very easily get a ‘black eye’ from the international community if we do not make a most valiant effort to get it right. We are indeed a sovereign nation and we expect the world to appreciate this fact. However, the world will ‘mark the manner of our bearing’ in immigration matters, in particular.

“I suggest that a board or authority be set up to monitor our handling of this extremely sensitive matter. This entity could be comprised of representatives appointed from the following: the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce, the Bahamas Christian Council, the official opposition, labour, social services, the Office of the Attorney General, among others. In a post-hurricane environment like now, and in ordinary times, such an entity is a necessity.”

In addition to his previous suggestions, he said the body could address any bad behaviour of shelter residents; hear concerns related to delays in applications for citizenships and permanent residency, in particular and advise the government proactively on areas of potential concern.

“This list is by no means exhaustive, but I want to make the point that, as concerns arise in these areas, the body ought to be able to advise and to speak to the issues. I am convinced that a report produced by such an entity would be considered more credible by the international community in particular than if given by a government official.

“We would all want to ‘get this right’ as we work to secure our borders, as well as to treat humanely the migrants in our midst, whether they are documented or not. The way we treat others who are different from us is a true mark of our Christianity and, in this instance, I am happy to echo the remarks made earlier by the governor of the Turks and Caicos Islands.

‘In the meantime, I strongly urge that calmer heads prevail in the debate going forward. Some of the rhetoric and extreme language I have heard thus far those supporting the migrants and those who are not, is extremely provocative, and not helpful to the cause of harmony in our country. We must be careful what we say and how we say it. Sensitivity must prevail. Even if what we say may be right, the time and the manner may not be right.”

The Anglican bishop also referenced xenophobic fears that Haitian migrants only take from the country while not contributing to society.

“Bahamians must stop saying that Haitians in particular, come and take while giving little or nothing to the country. This is simply not true. Whenever a person works or raises a family, that person adds value to a country, in return for which he/she receives certain things like well-being, goods and services. It is not an exaggeration to say that if we take the Haitian labour out of our country, the Bahamas would be all the poorer because Haitians are contributing in every area you can think of.

“There are many aspects of the Haitian culture from which we could learn much, for example, the vast majority of them work extremely hard and not hang around on the streets begging like so many others do. Their work ethic is very good.”

He said Haitians also have a “keen sense of family life,” look after their children in the vast majority of cases by attending PTA meetings when many Bahamians do not. He also said many children of Haitian migrants “excel academically because that is a priority in their homes.”

“My brothers and sisters, let us be honest and realistic, and let us find ways to live together in peace and harmony as God, who made us all, would have it,” the bishop said.

Last week, the United Nations Human Rights Council urged the Bahamas to end deportations to Haiti for now, emphasising the vulnerable status migrants affected by Dorian currently occupy. The group has called on the government not to deport people who lack documentation without assessing each person’s case and to implement due process guarantees as the people are “entitled to under international law.”

This came after the government reported that more than 100 Haitians were recently deported to Haiti.

But in a statement released on Saturday, the Ministry of Foreign affairs doubled down on the government’s unwavering position on deportations, saying any person found in violation of the Bahamas’ Immigration Act will be dealt with according to statute laws. While pushing back against international scrutiny and criticism levelled at the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said this country was one that “strictly” adhered to the rule of law, both locally and internationally.

Comments

My2centz 9 months, 3 weeks ago

There will be no black eye on The Bahamas, at least not over this. If anything the world, including Caricom and the UN, has demonstrated how very little they care about the plight of Haitians. This baseless fear mongering is a pathetic attempt to interfere with law and order.

Why didn't these same groups now speaking up in the name of humanity, not step up to the plate when these individuals needed humane conditions to live in? Many lives would have been saved. Why won't they do it now, since many are still living that way. It's because the concern is not genuine, they just want to be on the record on the side of "right". Done. Now they can go back and continue doing nothing for them with a peace of mind.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Right you are on all points made. Bishop Boyd and others like him need to take a very long and hard look at themselves the next time they look into a mirror. The clergy clearly have 'selective' empathy depending on the circumstances and the occasion. Thay also seem to have too little concern for the well-being of the 'true' Bahamians whom their churches look to for their own well-being, be it financial or otherwise.

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mandela 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The Bahamas can take a black eye today rather than destruction and distinction down the road, this is exactly how we got in this position today listening to persons like the good Bishop and not taking a stance when we should have.

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geostorm 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Well said @mandela. I think the good Bishop needs to relax. We can not afford to take care of anyone living here illegally. Legal migrants, contributing to the progression of our society are always welcome!

Now tell the international community to go clean up their own doorstep!

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Bishop do you see anything wrong with the way long time civil servants are treated most recently MR: Tells Bethel. Do you see anything wrong with young black men being sent to jail for minor offences. or poor people's property taken away by the Quieting Law.??

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SP 9 months, 3 weeks ago

STFU Boyd! Illegals have forced Bahamians to poverty, soup kitchens lines, and crime for s survival and this idiot in a dress is concerned about the country getting a black eye from the international community?

What about the "two black eyes" we have now from double-digit unemployment high crime caused by people turning to crime for survival

STFU Boyd!

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joeblow 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Actually we have gotten TB, malaria, a host of other diseases and a staggering national debt because of illegal immigration. Something has to give before Bahamians cease to exist in their own country!

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Sickened 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Sometimes a black eye is a sign that you have stood up for yourself against a bully. I certainly wouldn't mind if we got a black eye or even a broken tooth over this.

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stillwaters 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Such nonsense. If I am Bahamian and decided to sneak into the USA, hiding under the radar, and then proceed to have multiple offspring, WHENEVER I am caught and deported, how can In rear angrily spewing nonsense about my rights???????????? And talk crap about the USA getting a black eye for deporting me?????

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yeahyasee 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Obviously this man needs his head checked

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BahamaPundit 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The fourty years of Independence has been one big, lengthy blackeye. Between fourty years of stealing and incompetence, OECD blacklisting and hurricane Dorian, we honestly don't have anymore eyes to blacken.

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DiverBelow 9 months, 3 weeks ago

No country is alone in this matter. If the mexicans & central americans left the US tomorrow the agricultural, manufacturing & services would halt along with the economy. If the Hatians left The Bahamas en mass, the contribution to the economy would be quite evident & lacking. The concerns of a country being overrun by a larger population is real in both cases.

The simple process of 2 year Guest Workers with designated IDs per industry, a manageable yearly quota, application process for citizenship (if wanted) & managed with severe penalties for corruption, would minimize the issues in both countries. Look south to T&C, they recognized the need for foreign workers & investors to advance their country beyond Mere Sustenance. Once managed properly, it afforded them opportunity & economy. One does not loose their sovereignty nor identity with guest-workers, only fill in the recognized skill gaps. Key words are Management & Non-Corrupted, otherwise immigration is a convenient political football.

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