New policy to come down on illegal migrants entering the Bahamas – those seeking work permits from Haiti must apply at the Embassy in Haiti…
Minister with responsibility for Immigration is on his feet in the Parliament announcing major sweeping immigration policy changes effective Nov. 1, 2014… Will the opposition agree?
by Fred Mitchell MP
For debate in the House on Criminal Law Amendments
17 September 2014
With immediate effect, we will not accept applications for people who do not have legal status in The Bahamas to work and anyone who comes to do so the application will be refused and the applicant will be arrested and charged and deported.
The Cabinet is considering a permanent prospective ban on all people who have come here illegally and have been deported so that they will not ever be able to qualify for a permanent status in The Bahamas.
We are allowing a period for comment before proceeding with a formal proposal in this regard. The intention is to have new regulations or policies in place on this subject by 1st January 2015, subject to any exigencies.
With effect from 1st November 2014 new procedures are to come into force with regard to work permit procedures, and it is envisaged that the regulations will be amended and the policies accordingly.
The suggestions are out now for comment. Meetings have been held with various stakeholders including the Haitian Ambassador and the leaders of the Haitian community. They are expected to meet again with the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.
The proposal is that as of the 1st of November 2014:
Employers who wish to apply for first time work permit holders that is persons with no status in The Bahamas who are from the Republic of Haiti will have to do the following:
1. Come to the Department of Immigration and pay the processing fee $100, provide the labour certificate, the cover letter, the stamp tax of $30 and the employee information sheet in Nassau.
2. That information will be forwarded to the Embassy of The Bahamas in Port au Prince where the individual applicant will fill out the application form and provide the supporting documents. The individual applicant must be certified as personally seen by an embassy officer in Port Au Prince.
I also wish to announce that we will as of 1st November require all persons who live in The Bahamas to have a passport of the country of their nationality. Those people who have been born here will get a particular residence permit which will allow them to work and live here until such time as their status pursuant to any application under the terms of the constitution is decided.
This will also allow access of children to school. This will not apply to the children of those who are here illegally.
The Haitian President and the Ambassador have confirmed that they will be able to meet the demand for these passports.
The holding of a foreign passport does not prejudice the right of anyone under the constitution to apply for citizenship of the Bahamas.
In addition it is proposed that as of 1st November, the practice of issuing Certificates of Identity to non nationals born here will cease. These will only be for Bahamians who have a need for an emergency travel document or where in accordance with our international obligations we are to issue them to non nationals.
Again these matters are now in the public domain for comment.
The idea is to ensure that people are properly documented if they are living in The Bahamas.
The situation with immigration in The Bahamas is most vexing. The new class of recruits should graduate at the end of October; I think there will be 60 in that class. A new class has been chosen and will begin shortly thereafter. The RBDF is working actively on the high seas. The level of interdictions on land is ongoing.
There is so much criminality involved in immigration, that these new rules and procedures are necessary in order to get on top of this problem.
This requires the efforts of all Bahamians to guard our borders and protect our country. We are particularly concerned about what is happening in Abaco and special attention is being paid to that island and to Eleuthera where many residents believe that things have gotten totally out of hand. It is important for us to address it before it gets out of hand.
There are reports that there are in some sections of those islands no go areas for public officials. This cannot stand and this will be stopped.