There were several incidents broadcast globally that made it seem like The Bahamas was inhumane to Cubans and Haitians and while there might have been incidents that were questionable, for the most part, the allegations seemed to be exaggerated and shared before proper investigations were done. The Bahamas has an obligation to treat all refugees humanely but it also has the right to protect its national interests, and priorities cannot be determined by news agencies or the United Nations or any other group.
Leaders of our country must assess the situations and determine what our priorities are, and make decisions that first protect and advance the stable future of The Bahamas. We should never be xenophobic but we should not bow to pressure to our own disadvantage. In a country with limited resources, our priorities should be established on what we can reasonably accommodate and what puts us in the best position to succeed, and not on what other nations or groups decide we should do.
Illegal immigration is a global problem and all nations are struggling with this issue because, unless managed properly, the consequences could be dire. Europe has vacillated between open acceptance and strict exclusion. There was a time when Europe welcomed illegal immigrants and refugees from many countries in the Arabian Peninsula and Africa, but issues of assimilation and cultural differences emerged causing a backlash that resulted in a reversal of policies. They made decisions based upon their national priorities and best interest. The United States has been indecisive in dealing with illegal immigration depending on which administration is in power. One group restricts illegal immigration, the other group pushes for almost open borders. They made their decisions on what is best for their country – we should be allowed to do the same as a sovereign nation.
The word “sovereign” is often used as a standard for nations, then conveniently trampled upon when more powerful nations decide what is best for smaller nations. If we are a sovereign nation, it means we have the right to govern our affairs solely based on what we as a nation deem is our best interest and priorities.
I believe it is important that we clearly establish our national priorities and communicate clearly to others what our priorities are and advise them to do the same rather than trying to dictate to us what our policies should be. One of our well-established priorities is protecting our national borders and ensuring that we are not overrun by migrants. It is unfortunate that we cannot accommodate the large numbers of migrants that others want us to, but our national interests dictate that we protect The Bahamas, its culture and economy. We can accommodate some, but not all, of the migrants who want to come to our shores. And the ones we do accommodate must fit into our clearly established priorities, otherwise we end up harming ourselves to please others.
Thankfully, The Bahamas recently did not sign on the agreements that appeared to be forced on us and we focused on our priorities instead. This should be our posture going forward. We have to weigh everything in the balance and consider all factors and ramifications of our decisions. But at the end of the day, it has to be our national priorities that come first.
• Pastor Dave Burrows is senior pastor at Bahamas Faith Ministries International. Feel free to email comments, whether you agree or disagree, to firstname.lastname@example.org. I appreciate your input and dialogue. We become better when we discuss, examine and exchange.