Minister of Foreign Affairs & Immigration on Immigration

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<<< Statement by  the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs & Immigration, Brent Symonette.

26 August 2010

Nassau, Bahamas

There appears to have been some confusion relative to comments I made in an interview with the media on Wednesday, 25 August, as to the time frame for the resumption of apprehension exercises of illegal immigrants from the Republic of Haiti or any other country.

On 16 August, I issued a statement noting: “Persons who are found to be in The Bahamas illegally will be repatriated forthwith.”  In the interest of allowing illegal immigrants who wished to leave immediately and voluntarily to do so, the Government has allowed for a brief period of voluntary repatriation.

That period will end on 31 August, 2010.  Apprehension exercises will resume as of 1 September, 2010, consistent with my statement of 16 August relative to the resumption of such exercises:

“Having regard to the recent heightened infringement of Bahamas Immigration Law, notice is hereby given that with immediate effect, all illegal immigrants are requested to leave The Bahamas voluntarily.

“All persons who are here illegally are in contravention of the laws of The Bahamas, and are advised to return to their country of origin or be subject to apprehension and deportation.”

My statement of 16 August reminded the general public of the Government’s long-standing policy with respect to illegal entry into The Bahamas.  I also wish to recall the humanitarian decision of The Bahamas in suspending for a short period both apprehension and repatriation exercises following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January of this year.

The Government has resumed repatriation exercises for illegal immigrants from Haiti.  Over the past 6 months 772 Haitian and 183 Jamaican nationals have been repatriated to the Republic of Haiti and Jamaica.

The resumption of both apprehension and repatriation exercises are critical elements in the Government’s comprehensive immigration policy.  This includes deterring illegal immigrants, irrespective of country of origin, from seeking to enter The Bahamas illegally.

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