By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROGRESSIVE Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell said the major Abaco shanty towns should not be rebuilt.
Speaking to reporters yesterday at a press conference held at the Office of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Mitchell lamented Hurricane Dorian's destruction of the heavily populated Abaco shanty towns, but added The Mudd and Pigeon Peas should no longer exist.
"I think the law needs to follow its course and that it's been a vexing problem for that area," the former immigration minister said. "I think that should be the end of it. It has to be handled with sufficient sensitivity to the fact that people lost their lives.
"I think the government is pleading that's the reason why the recovery process of bodies is taking so slowly because they're moving their way through it."
He added: "I've seen all the arguments about who owns the property, squatters' rights and all sorts of these things. I think those are all esoteric points, the fact is the place is now gone and there should be no rebuilding in that area."
Mr Mitchell said the government must be sensitive but can't "deviate from standard procedures."
He said: "I think the leader said already the law follow its course and that's been our view. I think that you have to be sensitive obviously to the human condition but there is no reason to deviate really from the standard procedures."
When asked how long he thinks the government should be sensitive to storm victims from the shanty towns, Mr Mitchell said: "I can't say how long, you just have to be sensitive as a matter of public policy you have to be sensitive.
"But, I've also said there is no reason that I see at the moment to deviate from the standard policy. Which is, if you aren't lawfully here you belong in your home country."
On Monday, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis said undocumented immigrants affected by Hurricane Dorian face no protections and will be subject to the country's laws of apprehension and deportation. The government previously announced a six month construction ban in Abaco shanty towns.
"Our laws will be followed, full-stop," Dr Minnis told The Tribune. "We have laws and they will be followed and adhered to. Those who have broken the law will be dealt with according to the law."
The government had suspended apprehension and deportation exercises in areas affected by Hurricane Dorian in the immediate aftermath of the storm, but officials on Monday suggested that undocumented people displaced by the storm cannot expect to go about their lives as if they are protected from repatriation permanently. Many displaced residents, especially undocumented ones, are believed to be staying in shelters on New Providence.
Iram Lewis, the new minister of state for disaster preparedness, recovery and reconstruction, said the government will soon contract companies to remove debris from The Mudd and Pigeon Peas.