Thursday, Jan 17, 2019
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Proposed reforms to address immigration, citizenship issues

Brent Symonette.

Former Court of Appeal President Dame Anita Allen is expected to present recommended changes to the Bahamas Nationality Act and the Immigration Act to the government next week, Immigration Minister Brent Symonette said yesterday.

“It will be sent out for discussion in short order,” Symonette said.

He said the recommended reforms will address issues related to immigration as well as citizenship issues that were raised in constitutional referenda.

The June 2016 referendum and the February 2002 referendum both failed.

Attorney General Carl Bethel said last year that proposed amendments to the Immigration Act will make it clear that the “minister has a right to order the deportation of any illegal migrant or person who is undocumented and found in The Bahamas without having to get a court order”.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in February 2018, Symonette advised that the government was exploring developing an “entirely new immigration law” and suggested it could impact the way The Bahamas processes people who were born and have lived in the country, but are not entitled to citizenship for “some reason”.

He said rules must also be established to deal with children born outside The Bahamas to married Bahamian women and their foreign spouses, and children born to unmarried Bahamian men and foreign women.

In November 2017, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis announced that the government intended to amend the law to ensure that all children born outside The Bahamas to Bahamian women automatically receive Bahamian citizenship.

Allen was made law reform commissioner in June.

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