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Amnesty for fire victims

The victims of a recent fire in a Haitian village who may be in The Bahamas illegally will not be picked up and deported at this time due to their current circumstances, Director of Immigration Jack Thompson confirmed yesterday.

“At this point in time we do not, and it is not our intention to conduct or carry out exercises in an area which is devastated, in an area where persons are still traumatized, in an area where persons are still trying to put the pieces together,”Thompson told The Nassau Guardian.

“We fully understand our mandate; we know what our mandate is; we propose to carry out our mandate but we want to be sensitive and we want to be sensible in carrying out the policies of this department. Having regard to the devastation of the fire area, we do not propose to deal with that area at this time.

“We do intend to continue to comb those other areas-the other shantytowns and wherever our intelligence leads us. We have not exposed or divulged or shared many areas that we have covered in recent months

but our efforts continue.”

The fire in the Haitian village on Alan Drive left hundreds of people homeless.

While Thompson indicated that there will be amnesty for the victims of the fire, he said the Department of Immigration will accelerate its apprehension program in 2011.

Thompson said no community, including gated ones, will escape the department’s efforts.

“We have some areas on our radar and whether it is on construction sites, isolated communities and cays we will go in and carry out our mandate,”he said.

Immigration records show that 2,136 undocumented migrants were repatriated this year. Among them were 1,562 Haitians, 280 Jamaicans and 61 Dominicans. Other undocumented migrants were also sent out of the country, including nationals from the United States, Australia, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Britain, Russia, South Africa, Peru and Venezuela.

According to Thompson, between January and December 14, the department spent$867,176.21 on repatriation exercises. Of that amount$483,225.99 was spent on repatriation exercises between January and June, and the remaining$383,950.22 was spent on repatriation exercises conducted between July and December 14.

Eighty-five illegal immigrants are at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre. Of that number, 28 are Haitians.

“It is not our intent, or our plan, or in our deck of cards for persons to stay at the Detention Center for an inordinate length of time,”Thompson said.

“That is why oftentimes we take it upon ourselves if no one is stepping forward to pay to have these persons returned to their homes. The Detention Center is no hotel, or motel. It is a holding facility and we want a turnaround time really within weeks.

“If we can get them home within a week or two weeks that is good.”

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