PRIME Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis.
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
DESPITE some critics saying the government is not doing enough to clamp down on illegal immigration, Prime Minister Phillip “Brave” Davis insisted yesterday that his administration is addressing the problem.
“We are addressing it. We are addressing the issues that impact (us),” he told reporters after addressing the 32nd Annual Bahamas Business Outlook at Baha Mar yesterday.
“This is not a new issue. This is an issue that’s been with us from pre-emancipation. If you check your historical facts, you’ll know that this issue of migration in The Bahamas as it relates to our neighbours to the north and throughout the Caribbean has been with us from pre-emancipation.”
His comments come amid public outcry over what some term to be an “immigration crisis” in the country.
Last year, nearly 5,000 migrants, most of them Haitians, were repatriated from the country after entering Bahamian shores illegally.
In Parliament on Wednesday, Immigration Minister Keith Bell issued a stern warning to people living in the country illegally “to wind up” their affairs and leave immediately or face deportation.
Yesterday, Mr Davis said he supported what Mr Bell had said.
“I think he is just reiterating what the law is and that all who are here ought to be able to comply with our laws and we are a country of laws and we ask those who. . . are here to obey the laws.”
On Tuesday, a group of people led by political activist Lincoln Bain, protested outside the Office of the Prime Minister, demanding more action from the government to tackle the problem.
Their frustration mirrors that of many Bahamians, who feel that more needs to be done to crack down on illegal migration and the growing number of shanty towns in the country.
Central and South Abaco MP John Pinder recently told reporters that the issue of unregulated shanty towns in Abaco is about to reach a “boiling point.”
Similar concerns have been echoed by residents in North Andros and Harbour Island, islands that are also home to several illegal developments.
“It’s concerning to me because there isn’t any sanitary infrastructure at hand and there isn’t the proper permitting and things are being done that Bahamians, and my fellow Abaconians can’t do,” Mr Pinder added.
“We have to abide by the law. There is a certain procedure in place that makes a safe place for everyone to live and right now, those areas that we’re describing aren’t doing that and that’s a problem.
“I know that multiple agencies are dealing with this right now and, like I said, I am highly optimistic that this Davis-Cooper administration will make sure that we have some mediation and a good outcome for Bahamians.”
Last year, a multi-agency committee, composed of representatives from various government departments, ministries, and law enforcement agencies, was formed in response to the illegal developments.
Officials have remained tightlipped on the committee’s work to date, only saying that more information on the government’s next steps will become available in due time.