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More arrests promised as immigration ‘crackdown’ continues

More marriage and identity fraud arrests could be coming as investigators continue a crackdown on immigration to protect the country’s sovereignty, according to Immigration Minister Elsworth Johnson.

In the past year, multiple people accused of entering sham marriages and assuming the identities of deceased individuals have been arrested and charged.

Johnson said authorities don’t know the true identities of the people who have stolen other people’s identities and obtained Bahamian passports and NIB cards.

The unraveling of a marriage fraud ring also resulted in the recall of officials at the Haitian consulate who were implicated during the investigation into the matter.

Johnson said the digitization process at immigration and the Registrar General’s Department has helped to spot inconsistencies that resulted in prosecutions.

While all of the prosecutions involved Haitian nationals, Johnson acknowledged that other nationalities were violating the country’s immigration laws. He said that everyone breaching the country’s laws would be held accountable in order to restore confidence in the immigration department.

He said immigration investigators intended to look closely at current spousal permit holders, through random home checks, to ensure their unions were not just business transactions.

Johnson said, in some cases, Bahamians who have engaged in fraudulent marriages have reported the matters to immigration themselves.

Marriage fraud poses a potential threat to the country’s national security, financial institutions and the integrity of the country’s immigration system, he said.

Johnson said due to the country’s positioning, it is desirable to many nationalities.

However, he said allowing the wrong people access to the country could result in blacklisting and other sanctions from OECD (the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

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Artesia Davis

Artesia primarily covers court stories, but she also writes extensively about crime.

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