Dominicans don’t expect many countrymen to come to The Bahamas
While the government’s pledge to accept students and other Dominicans with families in The Bahamas has sparked widespread debate in the country, some representatives of the Bahamas Dominica Association said they don’t expect many Dominicans to temporarily relocate to The Bahamas.
“We don’t expect to see that many,” said Dr. Alphaeus Allick, a resident of The Bahamas for more than a decade.
“Some of our kids have already moved off to St. Lucia, Barbados, possibly Trinidad, and those places are closer.
“Getting to The Bahamas is a bit difficult for Dominicans, most times it includes an overnight stay and it includes coming through the [United] States.
“You need to have a visa, so we don’t expect to see many kids coming up here.
“But we know that where there are families…these people may communicate directly with their family and say, ‘Hey here is the option, you can come live by me.’”
Allick said that the biggest concern for many in Dominica is not relocating, but rebuilding their home.
“My parents, they are not even considering that they have no light, no water because Dominicans are resilient, especially the people from the country areas,” he charged.
“They are accustomed to living simple.
“For them, basic needs don’t necessarily even include electricity.
“For them, once they have life and they have basic food, they will make it happen.
“Most of the people need to be there to help rebuild.
“So it’s not necessarily like the entire island is evacuating.
“It’s just that we are allowing our children to continue with their life in the meantime while we help to rebuild the nation.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said on Wednesday the government will temporarily relax immigration rules for “a number” of Dominican schoolchildren.
He did not indicate how many students will likely be accommodated in The Bahamas.
Minnis indicated that there are three categories of students who may apply.
These include: children who have relatives in The Bahamas who can find lodging and support from their family members; college students who wish to study at The University of The Bahamas and seek boarding at The University of The Bahamas; and children of parents employed in companies, banks, etc. which have offices in The Bahamas where temporary employment transfers can be arranged with these institutions.
A flurry of mixed commentary appeared on social media following the initial announcement on Sunday.
Many were positive and in agreement with the government’s decision to assist.
However, many others expressed disdain and argued that The Bahamas has too many problems of its own, and cannot afford the strain on the education system, the economy and the government.
On Wednesday, during his contribution to a resolution thanking the governor general for delivering the Speech from Throne, McAlpine took issue with the government’s decision suggesting that Dominicans may not want to leave when the come to The Bahamas.
McAlpine then defended his comments charging that he’s not “xenophobic or racist”.
Anne Garraway, a teacher and resident in The Bahamas for over 50 years, said she does not believe McAlpine’s comments represent the majority of Bahamians, as she has received great support from her friends and family living in The Bahamas, offering their assistance to Dominicans in need.
Dr. Estelle Laville shared similar sentiments insisting that, “it has been really amazing the outpour of just love from the Bahamian people.
“We have all lived here for a number of years and we are married to Bahamians.
“Our lives are here, but it doesn’t mean that our childhood home is forgotten at all.
“It is right there with us and we are just really appreciative of everyone who has come to assist.”