In a letter issued last year I urged the Government to consider the urgency in addressing matters concerning the security of The Bahamas especially in the area of our borders. There are no solid indications that the current economic condition of this region and the world will get better any time soon. Right now I believe that our greatest threat to maintaining an even moderate stability during this crisis is the current deterioration of governance in Haiti.
The January earthquake in Haiti has added a severe blow to what once was an already depressed State.
Though the world has responded to the current, basic needs of Haiti, we cannot expect or depend on a sustained effort by any group or nation to keep Haiti from falling back to a place which it once was or worse.
The current deteriorating economic situation in Greece and the bailout response from its allies is a prime example of how recovery efforts by nations will have to be shifted continually to meet the demands of a progressively unstable world.
This recession has made it such that no nation can now solely deal with any one of these unforeseen events that now seem to occur on a daily basis.
The time has come for us to find more creative solutions to this Immigration problem as it’s now clear that the ones that we are currently undertaking do not work. We cannot afford during this time to guess and hope that this issue will go away. The risk alone of a severe humanitarian crisis is sufficient to induce a swift and proactive approach to the matter from within Haiti itself.
It’s a known fact that the immediate and repetitive repatriation of migrants from Haiti is a counter-productive exercise yet we continue to do it. This recurrent program was not funded by the disposable income of the Bahamian public even during good economical times. Every dollar back then was important and today —even more. We cannot afford to continue to waste money in this manner. We must find a solution that will not only stop this hemorrhaging of our funds but also transform it into an investment.
The source of this problem lies within Haiti itself, its governance and its people. It’s clear that the matter of stability in Haiti is one that cannot be solved overnight. Last year, before anyone could have dreamt earthquake was pending, we were given a good forecast by the Haitian Ambassador himself that we should expect even more migrants in the near future. Now the future is here an it has brought along the unexpected. What should we do?
The Dam Solution
What I propose to solve this problem is an aggressive system of control. Like a Dam, we need a solution that will regulate this flood of migrants and create positive energy from what is now, no doubt, a destructive force.
I propose that we create a regulated and isolated labor force of Haitian migrants and nationals who can apply within Haiti to work on a contract within the Bahamas. I believe that the employment of all Haitian migrants should fall solely under the portfolio of the Bahamian Government or a proper, select organization who would qualify to handle the task.
Therefore, if given that the Government of the Bahamas has sole rights to employ these migrants I propose that we discontinue the issuing and renewal of work permits for Haitian nationals living in the Bahamas. Through isolated, predetermined work assignments for migrants I believe that we can also stem out the existing trend of corruption in the Department of Immigration and other Government entities.
We should embrace this as a plan for national development through the creation of new industries, mass farming and the improvement of infrastructure throughout our family islands. This plan would be similar to the work Contract program introduced by the United States in the late 1940s – 50s which many Bahamians had applied to. This program as many know aided tremendously in the development of South Florida.
We can also invite other Caribbean nations to adopt this same work program to aid in the effort. In the event of a mass exodus from Haiti we would then have the ability to share labor with our neighboring countries.
A set quota of workers can be rotated within a specified period, returning home to allow for a new group to enter the program. If in the event the quota is exceeded do to an arrival of illegal migrants we can then prematurely substitute those currently here.
What prevents us from implementing a program such as this? The mere fact that we can give those from Haiti (who are willing and able) the opportunity to work, feed their families and fund their own flights back to their homeland is enough an incentive to try it.
I can go further into how this plan can work but I must address another part of this issue.
Mass Repatriation and Naturalization
For any serious effort to work in this matter it is important to conduct massive repatriation exercise like none other previously undertaken. An aggressively planned repatriation will allow us to begin this program with a clean slate.
The issue of naturalization of for those who qualify should also be addressed. I believe that a contributer to our crime problem are those who were born to immigrants who have yet to feel that they are apart of our society. I believe that it’s completely wrong to leave an individual in limbo as to his status in life if he or she was born into your society, especially one who’s only connection to his heritage is that of his parents. Naturalization for these persons should be made much more easy and transparent.
Citizenship, identity and the benefits of freedom are essential to positive growth and development of every human being. Those who deserve it should have it. Without this I believe that loose cultures are developed and hate towards those that have these rights are created.
It would be better for us to embrace and integrate these people, many of whom I believe have a true desire to do good and contribute to the development of our country.
It is not in the best interest of our nation to wait for more unforeseen events to take place in order for us to jolt into action. A proactive approach, going to where the problem lies first and applying solutions beforehand are some of the greatest keys to maintaining a healthy and secure society.
The quality of life for every Bahamian should be first on the Government’s agenda. We have been plagued with this problem of Immigration for far too long and I feel that there is no greater time than now to find a Dam Solution.