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84 illegals held - none from sloop

Immigration officers stopping traffic on the Paradise Island bridge. 

Immigration officers stopping traffic on the Paradise Island bridge. 

By RASHAD ROLLE and SANCHESKA DORSETT

Tribune Staff Reporters

PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis “is very disturbed” by the illegal landing of a sloop on Adelaide Beach and is awaiting a “full report” on how the landing was possible, his Press Secretary Anthony Newbold said yesterday.

The Tribune understands the Minnis administration has ordered the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBPF) and Department of Immigration officers to find the missing illegal immigrants.

In recent days, immigration officers have conducted sweeps of areas known for holding Haitian migrants after the discovery of the vessel. Despite apprehending more than 80 migrants over the past two days, immigration officials said up to press time they had not found any one who was on board when the sloop came ashore.

Mr Newbold said: “I know that the minister of national security has commented on the issue, but the prime minister still needs a report. What happened and the degree is totally unacceptable in 2017. The prime minister is also deadly serious about the December 31 deadline for illegals to get out and he will not be deterred by those who would coddle anyone who breaks the law. Being humane is fine, but breaking the law is another [thing] and we are a country of laws. Accountability is intended to be one of the hallmarks of the Minnis administration’s good governance policy.”

The sloop came ashore sometime Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

Immigration Director William Pratt said Monday he “had no idea” how such a sloop could land so close to the RBDF Coral Harbour Base and go undetected. He said the RBDF should perhaps “improve their surveillance”.

In an interview with the Nassau Guardian on Monday, National Security Minister Marvin Dames emphasised officials won’t always get it right.

“I have been in this business, and I have first-hand experience,” Mr Dames said.

“I have flown these islands and these oceans for hours not seeing a single thing in sight. And so, if you want an appreciation of just how expansive this country is, you take a tour on one of these helicopters or you take a tour on one of these boats. You travel for hours and don’t see anything. But is there anything out there? Of course. Always remember that these persons who are trying to evade the law, they have their techniques and strategies too. We have to adjust to those techniques and strategies to ensure that we are much better and we are able to interdict them on a more frequent basis.”

Kirklyn Neely, head of the Department of Immigration’s Enforcement Unit, has estimated between 150 to 250 undocumented migrants were on board the sloop.

Despite apprehending 57 illegal immigrants yesterday, Mr Neely said his department is “no closer” to finding the missing migrants.

After the second day of extensive searching, Mr Neely said immigration officers have still not found “one single person” from the sloop.

However, he said the massive searches will continue until law enforcement catches the individuals or find the information they need.

Authorities believe the immigrants who landed on Sunday morning or Saturday night had help from people already on New Providence and have warned anyone who was found hiding them would be jailed, fined or both.

“At this point, we don’t have the information we need and we have not caught anyone,” said Mr Neely.

“We had four buses with 70 to 80 officers searching throughout New Providence. We will keep going and we will keep searching and we will not stop until we get some of those people, this is an ongoing effort.

“We hope someone can tell us about these people from the boat. We got 57 persons today [Tuesday] including Haitians, Jamaicans, Chinese and Dominicans. There were four Haitian children included in that number. But at this point, we have no additional leads but we will keep going.”

As part of yesterday’s search operations morning traffic heading on to Paradise Island were greeted by the sight of Immigration officers stopping traffic in the hunt for illegal migrants.

This operation - and the entire stop and search operation - last night brought fierce criticism from human rights activist Frederick Smith QC.

He told the Tribune: “I quite understand the embarrassment of the defence force in discovering a sloop next door to their base, but that does not give licence to the Immigration Department to randomly stop, question, search and detain the public.

“The Paradise Island exercise is unconstitutional... The process of randomly stopping and searching someone is unlawful.

“The Immigration Act only gives Immigration officers the same powers as the police. Immigration are not a law on to themselves and are acting illegally in these random roadblocks.”

 He continued: “The Immigration and Defence Force have become a renegade arm of institutional terrorism on the Bahamas population. It is no longer a migrant issue, it is the complete abandonment of all constitutional rights for any person on the streets.

“I have repeatedly said that the Immigration Department and their over reach in the exercise of their powers is going to negatively affect the rights of every person in the Bahamas.”

cted,” Mr Pratt said Monday. “We did a sweep of the main area but the search was also extended to areas where we know a lot of Haitians are concentrated. So for the rest of the week, we will be picking up illegal immigrants every day, whether they were on the boat or not, until we get the persons that came on the sloop. Honestly, I do not know how the boat was not seen, seeing that it was so close to the base but maybe they need to reevaluate their surveillance – but it’s quite unusual.”

Comments

TheMadHatter 6 years, 7 months ago

Ok. I think the solution here is a dictionary.

Mr Dames should look up the word "radar".

Mr Smith should look up the word "patriot".

baldbeardedbahamian 6 years, 7 months ago

Madhatter, if you look up the word radar you will find that it will detect objects made from metal and will not detect wooden boats effectively.

baldbeardedbahamian 6 years, 7 months ago

the defence force have these big boat................................................. To catch the illegals afloat ............................................. But they can't seem to keep.................................................................. From falling asleep.................................................................................. While they land on a beach not remote................................................

John 6 years, 7 months ago

Like I said before, this sloop was probably already almost empty when it drifted into the defense force area. So most of the illegals probably got off further East . Yamacraw, South Beach in those areas. They probably communicated by cell phones and had cars come pick them up. Another option is this was a drug boat. Did the Defense Force check for drug residue before setting the boat on firs?

baldbeardedbahamian 6 years, 7 months ago

John, the wind has been from out of the north for several days now. The beach there faces south.

DDK 6 years, 7 months ago

Why would they destroy an apparently sea-worthy craft? Surely the sale of the vessel would provide some revenue for instructors to teach our RBDF how to surveil and apprehend?

Reality_Check 6 years, 7 months ago

This operation - and the entire stop and search operation - last night brought fierce criticism from human rights activist Frederick Smith QC.

QC Smith loves illegal immigrants and being in the limelight more so than he does the Bahamas and the Bahamian people.

baldbeardedbahamian 6 years, 7 months ago

Reality cheek, how do you know so much about Fred Smith? Have you ever even met the man and talked with him>

Reality_Check 6 years, 7 months ago

I have met QC Smith on several occasions, the last time being shortly after the passing of the late Colin Callender, Q.C.

Well_mudda_take_sic 6 years, 7 months ago

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE NOT TO HAVE APPREHENDED AT LEAST ONE OF THE MANY ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS THAT WERE ON THAT SLOOP???!!!! This is just beyond any kind of comprehension!! Small wonder we, the Bahamian people, no longer have any faith whatsoever in the ability of either the RBPF or RBDF to keep us safe and secure in our own country today. Using a drone at night, equipped with an infrared live video feed, I could find 100 illegal aliens hiding away in their favorite places in the bushes in less than a few hours! This is a bloody damn small island!!!!

jackbnimble 6 years, 7 months ago

Unless.... the story is not true. Not one single picture of the so-called sloop and no one caught. How do we know this is not a FAKE story so that they can start their raids earlier than the December 31st deadline... now there's a thought!

Reality_Check 6 years, 7 months ago

There was a photo of the sloop in yesterday's edition of The Tribune. Besides, I would like to think that Minnis himself and those reporting to him on this most embarrassing matter were not duped by fake news!

jackbnimble 6 years, 7 months ago

I know. I'm just being facetious.

bogart 6 years, 7 months ago

80 square miles area with thirty percent canals, swamp,lakes. Other parts commercial like downtown. Mabye the sloop landed outside the Mud and Pea in Abaco and drifted and mabye the officers should be looking in Abaco also.

mandela 6 years, 7 months ago

What is so amazing is that the RBDF can find and intercept the go fast drug and human smuggling boats, but the ones moving in a snail pace creeps into their back yard undetected. Shame on them.

baldbeardedbahamian 6 years, 7 months ago

This is not amazing the US coastguards track these boats and tell the RBUDF where to intercept them.

ohdrap4 6 years, 7 months ago

they are looking in the wrong places. they put these illegals in nice condominiums actually, where no one is going to look, tru, they raid shanty towns where they apprehend some of those with work permits who do not keep the permit on their person.

Cas0072 6 years, 7 months ago

It is hard to applause such comparatively small successes when they avoid going after or even discussing the root of the problem. Yes, they flap their gums about not hiring illegal immigrants, but broke Bahamians hiring a Haitian every other month is not what brings them in or sustains them.

John 6 years, 7 months ago

Not saying to ease up on the Haitians but it would be good to see Immigration posted up at the Gates of Lyford Cay and Old Fort Bay and in the Abaco and see what is the real Immigration problem in this country. A lot of them who goosey the Immigration against the Haitians them and the same set involved in High grade human smuggling. Engineers and accountants and even doctors. Prove me wrong

joeblow 6 years, 7 months ago

I thought it was a haitian cruise ship with immigration exempt passengers!

SP 6 years, 7 months ago

Another classic example why Haitians are endemic enemies of the state! The greater majority if not all of regularized Haitians and Bahamians of Haitian descent know the full details of illegal Haitian migration and who is involved in both countries.

We are rushing forward calling ourselves being "humane" by giving Haitians legal status in our country while no Haitian have EVER stepped forward to assist the government with information leading to arresting this vexing illegal Haitian migrant crises.

What the hell are we doing? Haitians loyalty is unquestionable to Haitians, not the Bahamas regardless of gaining status in the Bahamas!

Haitians have been riding Bahamians like donkeys for decades. It is the time for us to follow the Dominican Republic and U.S. lead and put an end to this stupidity.

We need to get rid of Brent Symonett and the damn Haitians before they accomplish their goal of destroying Bahamians.

John 6 years, 7 months ago

Black bearded Bahamian the direction of the wind is not constant even over a 24 hour period. And even so the tide can by flowing in a different direction from the wind

juju 6 years, 7 months ago

The amount of time, energy and resources being spent to round up illegals is outrageous and disruptive to business and our Bahamian daily life. Employees are arriving to work late because of the above, and it is so inconvenient to those of us who are law abiding and trying to live our humble and honest daily lives! Is this REALLY necessary Mr. Symonette? I don’t believe that one of those migrants on that sloop set foot on N P.

sheeprunner12 6 years, 7 months ago

Interesting view ........ It is disconcerting that a Haitian wooden sloop can end up undetected on Adelaide Beach after passing through almost 500 miles of Bahamian waters .......... HMMMMMMMMMM

My2cents 6 years, 7 months ago

Law abiding citizens don't whine about being inconvenienced when there is a search for 200 nameless, faceless individuals with no verifiable background on the run. In this instance we can only hope they are harmless illegals as opposed to terrorists. We don't know, and immigration and the RBDF should leave no stone unturned.

SP 6 years, 7 months ago

Ditto. Thanks for pointing out what should have been obvious to any true nationalist. Any inconvenience is worthwhile suffering for the best interest of the country and people.

DaGoobs 6 years, 7 months ago

And we wonder why we have a problem with unlicensed guns and ammunition getting into this country? This incident demonstrates how porous our borders are and how defective our border defences are. The Prime Minister says he wants a report. He should not have to request reports of exceptional or unusual matters from each Ministry as and when they occur but should be getting regular reports on the goings-on at each Ministry from his Ministers. He needs to watch the Prime Minister's Questions on C-SPAN where the UK's Prime Minister is able to answer parliamentary questions regarding the affairs of any government Ministry or agency. We could be invaded by a bunch of terrorists using wooden boats that cannot be detected by radar coming up on the south side of New Providence and we have no constitutional right to search for them, maybe unless we declare a state of emergency. What a country!

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