By Frederick R M SMITH, QC
Sadly, unnecessarily and illegally, the life of an innocent young Bahamian in waiting is in limbo!
As the following news story evidences, Marchar Jean, the Valedictorian from C. R. Walker Senior High School, is caught in an illegal bureaucratic trap forcing her to live an illegal purgatory of statelessness and unconstitutional discrimination! Please view her story on this news report.
Need For Efficiency at Immigration
I urge the Immigration Department to become more efficient in granting Belongers Permits to people born in The Bahamas of non-citizen parents, and to issue Certificates of Citizenship Registration to those applying between the ages of 18 to 19.
There are thousands of children in her position, under 18, unable to apply for registration and locked in Discrimination Limbo Land illegally foisted upon the public in a policy dreamt up in 2014 by former PLP Minister of Immigration Fred Mitchell [now a PLP Senator].
The Bahamas is now visiting these unfortunate children with, as the Catholics say, “Original Sin”.
They are being treated and presumed to be guilty as opposed to innocent.
Pass a Simple Citizenship Law
I urge this FNM government, as a matter of critical urgency to the lives of thousands of innocent children and adults, to pass a simple law that would make it so easy for thousands of people to live productive, positive, constructive lives instead of being overshadowed by a stupid, unnecessary, bureaucratic and cumbersome process of waiting for a piece of paper that says they belong in The Bahamas even though they are born here!
There would be no need to amend the Constitution! All that would be necessary would just be political will to respect such a law.
They would not have to apply to the Immigration Department for a Belongers Permit. Their lives would not be in limbo. They would not be constantly treated as second class citizens or outlaws!
And this Valedictorian, who has done nothing wrong except to be born of non-citizen parents, could simply go to the University of The Bahamas!
Such a law would reduce costs to the taxpayer of having to administer the Belongers Permit system at the DOI. It would avoid all these children having to bear the challenging paper production process and costs of translations and certified copies of documents and papers to present to the government. It would save time for Immigration and Cabinet who would not have to process applications which they have to approve by law anyway. What a waste of public officials’ time.
It would also help to reduce the corruption that exists at the Immigration Department.
Pass a simple law that says once born in The Bahamas you are automatically Bahamian and you don’t have to apply to anybody for a piece of paper.
Simple, easy, no cost to the government and taxpayer of having to process thousands of applications which keep thousands of young and adult lives in limbo!
End Mitchell’s Misery
This would be a positive step for this FNM government to take. It would end Mitchell’s 2014 policy that has made the lives of thousands of innocents miserable and unbearable.
Before Fred Mitchell introduced the illegal policy of requiring everybody having to have a piece of paper to be treated as a Bahamian, the government recognized and publicized that having a Birth Certificate was Your Passport to Citizenship!
We in the Bahamas need to be more compassionate, sensible and reasonable.
We should return to the pre-2014 position where the presentation of a Birth Certificate, evidencing that a person was born in the Bahamas whether their parents are citizens or not, means they are automatically treated as citizens of The Bahamas and could contribute to the growth of our nation and gave them the dignity to be equal citizens of this country.
We should stop this imbecilic, hurtful, inhuman and degrading treatment of children and adults who have done nothing wrong except to be born here of non-citizen parents!
To this day, hanging in Government offices, is an Official Bahamas Government Notice from the Registrar General’s office which shows what the policy of ALL governments of The Bahamas was before Fred Mitchell introduced his policy in 2014 requiring everybody to have a piece of paper that says they’re Bahamian or face being in limbo, detention and or deportation to countries they have never been to.
Ministers Johnson and Lloyd
Very regrettably, this FNM government, elected in May 2017, has continued this vile, degrading, illegal and demeaning PLP policy.
I cry shame on the FNM.
But they have it in their power to change this overnight.
Just like Fred Mitchell woke up one morning on the wrong side of bed and issued his illegal policy edict in November 2104, FNM Ministers Jeff Lloyd [Education] and Elsworth Johnson [Immigration] can wake up on the right side of bed and issue a policy statement and return us to normalcy.
History will judge all of these Ministers. I hope Ministers Lloyd and Johnson put themselves on the right side of Bahamian history! I remind them that Karma can be a Bitch!
This is a quick and easy fix. No legislation needed.
President Dr Rodney Smith, UB
I call on The University of The Bahamas to immediately end this policy and register Marshar Jean.
This policy of the University of the Bahamas is unconstitutional and illegal.
It’s not the law, and Dr. Rodney Smith, President of UB, can also, hopefully find himself and UB on the right side of Bahamian history by ending an illegal discriminatory policy.
This is another quick and easy fix.
Prime Minister Minnis
Until such a law is passed, the FNM Government should return to the situation where the presentation of a Birth Certificate, evidencing that a person was born in The Bahamas, whether to parents who are citizens or not, means that they are automatically treated as citizens of The Bahamas and can contribute to the growth of our nation and allow them the dignity to be equal citizens of this country.
As before 2014, they could then get a drivers’ licence, a wedding licence, open a bank account, get a business licence, get a US visa, get a passport, travel, register and get a National Insurance card and GET a JOB! And, they would not have to hide and lurk in the shadows, live as presumed outlaws and the daily terror and fear of being picked up illegally by the Yellow Immigration Bus and carted off to the Carmichael Concentration Camp indefinitely.
This is another easy step for the government to take.
I invite PM Minnis to also put himself on the right side of history.
Reverse Fred Mitchell‘s inhuman and degrading policy and revert to simply requiring proof of citizenship by a birth certificate.
And pass the simple law.
Frederick Smith born in Haiti - yet Bahamian! How perverse and insane is it that a person like me, who was born in Haiti, and who does not [because I am not legally required to] have a piece of paper to say that I am Bahamian Citizen am treated and function as such.
YET! A person born in The Bahamas, like this innocent Marshar Jean, who has a Bahamian Birth Certificate is not automatically treated as and deemed to be a Bahamian. This is the height of bureaucratic absurdity and Fred Mitchell is the culprit.
I cry shame on Fred Mitchell for this perverted affliction visited on these thousands of innocent Bahamians-in-Waiting.
It is the height of bureaucratic nonsense to require people born here to carry around a piece of paper proving they are Bahamian citizens. Most Bahamians do not have [and are not legally required to have] a paper that says “I am a Citizen of The Bahamas”. Being born in The Bahamas and having a birth certificate should be automatic proof, just like me, born in Haiti, to a Bahamian father means I am automatically Bahamian and treated as such.
I beg my FNM government to revert to reason, common sense, respect for the dignity of others and compassion.
Let the FNM be on the right side of Bahamian history.