Fred Mitchell continues to defend the Bahamas for Bahamians!

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds to Nassau Guardian editorial

Minister for Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell

2nd February 2015

The answer to every question asked in the editorial of the Nassau Guardian dated 2nd February 2015 can be supplied by the application of ordinary common sense to ordinary English words together with a reading of the existing law and the press release that was published in answer to the erroneous New York Times article. The latter press release in answer to the New York Times was published in The Guardian this morning.

Further, these new administrative measures being undertaken are the policies of the government of The Bahamas and not Mitchell’s “new rules for children” or “the Minister’s new standards” as the Nassau Guardian’s editorial erroneously stated in the title and the body of the op ed.

ANSWERS:

A permit to reside in The Bahamas is currently held by thousands of children in this country who are non Bahamians. That is the law. The Immigration Act says without distinction that everyone who is in The Bahamas who is not a Bahamian should have something which shows they have a right to reside or a right to work in The Bahamas. This applies to children and adults without distinction. The Minister’s statement at the Outlook Seminar reminds all who do not have such a permit that they should get one for their children. If the Nassau Guardian wishes to know what is on a permit, the face and form of a permit can be found in the official gazette of the Bahamas government, easily found at Government Printing.

With regard to whether it is prohibitive or not, that is a matter for the Education authorities. Nothing the Minister said spoke to the remit of the education authorities. He spoke only what the law on immigration says. The law requires every non Bahamian to have a permit. The law also requires every child under the age of 16 to be in school. The law says that where the Immigration Act conflicts with other acts, the Immigration Act prevails. However, in the past the Ministry of Education and the Immigration Department have worked hand in hand administratively to deal with particular cases. There should be no different expectation but the generality of the law should be enforced.

The Ministry of Education and the Department of Immigration and the respective Ministers are meeting shortly on the administrative issues for the public school system and the Department of Immigration will facilitate the granting or permits to children of all lawful residents.

We remind you of the statement made in answer to the New York Times:

“The permit requirement for a non-Bahamian student in The Bahamas is not a novel idea. Thousands of people hold those permits today. All countries require non-nationals to secure a visa or the equivalent as evidence of permission to live and study in their respective countries. That has always been the policy of The Bahamas and what is done in The Bahamas is not unusual.

“The United States, for example, requires Bahamian students to apply for a visa to study in the United States at a reported cost of US $160.00. Some Bahamian students have been deported and subsequently banned from re-entering the United States”.