Nassau, Bahamas – The Hon. Philip Davis, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Works and Urban Development, admonished the graduates of “A” Squad of the Class of 2014 of the Department of Immigration to be honest, humane, committed to oath of office and enforce the law without fear or favour.
“You are travelling a well-worn path to public service. Your trainers, your director, and your assistant directors have all started out from where you now stand. They have made it to the top of their chosen profession and they expect you to have the same affinity to this department which will cause you to commit to immigration as a career and in which you too will rise to the top,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.
Forty-four young men and women joined the ranks of the Department of Immigration during a graduation, ‘Passing Out,’ ceremony at the Royal Bahamas Police Force Training College, Thompson Boulevard Wednesday, November 5. The Hon. Fred Mitchell Minister of Foreign Affairs, government officials, representatives of the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Department of Immigration along with family and friends were present to witness the event. The Royal Bahamas Police Force Band thrilled the audience with an array of music and members of “A” Squad performed drill displays.
Outstanding graduates were presented with awards: Jamaal Stubbs received the ‘Instructor’s Award’; Tia Charlow was presented with the ‘Director’s Award’; and Rache Munroe earned the ‘Award of Excellence.’
In his keynote address, the Deputy Prime Minister expressed the Government’s commitment to the Department of Immigration. He said the Ministry of Finance will supply the resources required to carry out the work of the Department including a new border control system which is in the final stages of acquisition in addition to computers and transportation.
“You know that our country is resource challenged but this Government is committed to finding the resources so that you can do your work effectively and efficiently, he said.
“In this regard it is crucial for all to understand the constraints within which we operate. All of us have to do more with less. We want to help you to do more.”
He pointed out that despite the challenges of 2014, the Government has continued its repatriation programme. Forthe first nine months of 2014, more than $1.2 million has been spent on repatriations out of a budget of $1.5 million.
Between January and November 1st of 2014 the Government has repatriated 3,419 foreign nationals, (2,852 of them Haitian nationals), said the Deputy Prime Minister.
He emphasized reform measures including new immigration policies introduced by the Government on November 1st and a new resident permit for persons born in The Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents. He also expressed the Government’s commitment to regularizing those who have applied for status and have been long standing.
Additionally, he foreshadowed changes in immigration laws that will toughen penalties for smuggling and for employing people without a work permit.
The initiatives will be tabled when the House of Assembly resumes on November 19th.
The Deputy Prime Minister thanked Immigration’s Enforcement Unit and encouraged them to act humanely in performing their duties. “It is not only The Bahamas that is watching, but as the late Timothy Gibson wrote in our national anthem: “the world marks the manner of our bearing.”
Mr. Davis also acknowledged the officers stationed at the country’s borders. “You know that they will be amongst the first to meet visitors in a world that now faces a health emergency with the threat of Ebola. Even though that threat is remote, we are doing everything to ensure that Immigration officers are safe and that our country will be safe. For this, I thank them.”
Expressing similar sentiments, Mr. Mitchell urged the class not to let idle propaganda designed to defame the work that has been done by their colleagues deter them from the central job and focus of enforcing the law without fear and favour and keeping the peace.
“You come to a proud corps of officers,” said Mr. Mitchell. “They look forward to you joining their ranks. We are working through the bureaucracy to ensure their promotions soon. Please do not be deterred by the false imagery that is being portrayed of your soon to be colleagues. There is a saying in law: audi alterem partem. Hear the other side. Know that some people will use fair means or foul to discredit your work because they have their own agendas.”
“A” Squad 2014 is the first class of the Department of Immigration since 2009.