Wednesday, Oct 18, 2017
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Minnis warns illegal migrants

PM says they must leave by end of year
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis speaks in the House of Assembly yesterday. Photos: TORRELL GLINTON

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday warned all illegal migrants in The Bahamas that they have until December 31 to leave the country, after which they would be “aggressively pursued and deported”.

“This applies to all nationalities,” he said.

“Those Bahamians and residents who employ illegal migrants have until December 31, 2017 to regularize these individuals or stop employing them.

“I implore immigration officers to execute their duties in a professional and humane manner.

“Those who illegally employ such migrants are legally liable and they will be prosecuted.

“We must be a country of law and order.”

Immigration Minister Brent Symonette said yesterday that although the prime minister issued this mandate, there will be no amnesty provided between now and December 31.

Minnis said the government will “concentrate on the Immigration Department, with particular emphasis on the process for granting and renewing work permits and visas”.

“We will continue to process permanent residency applications for those who have legally been in The Bahamas for an extensive period of time, who have contributed to The Bahamas and satisfy the requirements,” he said.

The prime minister said that he doesn’t think, “people understand what it’s like when you are legally entitled to citizenship but you do not have the proper documents and cannot open a bank account and travel”.

“You are placed in a no man’s land,” he said.

“Until you live it you don’t understand.”

The previous Christie administration implemented an immigration policy on November 1, 2014 that requires all non-Bahamians to have passports of their nationalities and evidence that they have permission to live and work in the country.

The policy also mandated that the Department of Immigration not issue certificates of identity to non-nationals born in The Bahamas.

The department also does not accept first-time applications for residence or work permits from those who have no legal status in The Bahamas.

At the time, then Prime Minister Christie promised that the policy would be implemented in a humane way.

However, it drew international attention and the then Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) labeled the policy a human rights violation.
According to a survey conducted by Public Domain in 2014, 85 percent of Bahamians supported it.

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