<<< The Bahamas Immigration Department honored former directors and others instrumental in the development of the Department last Friday. Pictured from left are Vernon Burrows, Melvin Seymour, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs the Hon Brent Symonette, Barbara Pierre, Minister of State for Immigration the Hon Branville McCartney, Dr Doswell Coakley, and Emmanuel Mosko.
NASSAU, Bahamas – The Bahamas Immigration Department honored its former directors at a gala banquet, November 20, which closed out its 70th Anniversary celebrations, at the Grand Ballroom, Atlantis, Paradise Island.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Acting Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, the Hon Brent Symonette hailed the honorees for the outstanding dedication to the Department.
“I extend my thanks to the former staff members who have given invaluable service over the many years,” said Mr Symonette.
“Those who are privileged to serve in the Department today stand on your shoulders, as they are now mandated to take the department up.”
Honored were Dr Davidson Hepburn (1970 – 1972), Dr Doswell Coakley (1994 – 1996), Charles Turnquest (1994); Melvin Seymour (1997 – 2000), Vernon Burrows (2000-2008), and Barbara Pierre, the only woman and longest serving director (1972 to 1993).
Emmanuel Mosko, property developer and owner of the building, which houses the Immigration Department on Hawkins Hill, was also honored for his contribution to the Department.
“Seventy years for a country as young as ours is a longtime,” said Mr Symonette. “As a Department we have had many successes. There is much that we look at and take pride in, but more must be done.”
The challenge is how to mitigate the number of complaints the Department receives daily, how to respond to legitimate needs of the private sector, and how to ensure that each employee is trained in the art of effective customer service, he said.
During the last year, the Department has increased its apprehension and repatriation of illegal migrants; collected over $50 million in taxes; and established a hotline for the public to call in violations of immigration laws, Mr. Symonette noted.
“The Bahamas Government remains committed to the Immigration Department, which is in the process of fine tuning its policies, and launching its official website,” he said.
Minister of State for Immigration the Hon Branville McCartney said the Department owes a debt of gratitude to the honorees for their leadership and tireless efforts in filling its mandate.
On January 1,1939 an Act regulating Immigration was passed in Parliament establishing an Immigration Department.
The Department has a staff of 313 persons including 198 Immigration Officers. Jack Thompson is Director of Immigration.
Emmanuel Mosko, property developer and owner of the building, which houses the Immigration Department on Hawkins Hill, was also honored for his contribution to the department.