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Haitians to be repatriated next week

The Department of Immigration plans to repatriate 371 Haitian migrants before next week, Director of Immigration Jack Thompson toldThe Nassau Guardianyesterday.

Thompson said he was concerned about the financial strain on the government if that many undocumented migrants were to remain at the Carmichael Road Detention Centre for an extended period of time.

“We are going to move very swiftly and aggressively to ensure a timely, urgent and orderly repatriation,”he said.

“There is no way we can absorb the numbers here in The Bahamas. It is a strain on the Detention Centre housing and of course we have to provide meals for all these persons.”

Thompson said one group consisting of 114 Haitians was to be repatriated yesterday.

He said recently that one repatriation exercise using one of Bahamasair’s jets could cost the government as much as$25,000.

The government, therefore, could spend almost$80,000 in the next few days sending this group of migrants, some of whom were picked up only two days ago, back to Haiti.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force(RBDF)vessel HMBS Bahamas apprehended a group of 164 migrants Monday night and then another group of 93 Tuesday morning.

Authorities suspected that both groups had been sailing in their rickety sloops for four days without food or water.

The first group was picked up near the Ragged Island chain, only a few hours from New Providence, while the second group was found near Salina Point, Acklins.

Both of those groups totalling 257, were brought to New Providence aboard the HMBS Bahamas at about 11 o’clock Tuesday night and handed over to the Department of Immigration.

“We are going to continue to do some ground work,”Thompson said.

“I’m not at liberty to say what that ground work is, but we are dealing with the numbers we got off of the seas[Tuesday]night and the over 100 that we rounded up in Exuma on the weekend.”

In the first two months of 2011 the immigration department, after this weekend, will have repatriated almost 900 Haitian migrants.

The immigration department has conductedseveral apprehension exercises in different parts of New Providence and the Family Islands so far this year and has also participated in road blocks to apprehend undocumented immigrants.

“We return them home and we are in good stead when we do the repatriations,”said Thompson.

“I am very pleased with my team. They have worked hard since December with this repatriation and the round-ups and I’m very pleased with their efforts and the hard work.”

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