Pointing to concerted action by the government to deal with irregular immigration, Minister of Immigration and Labour Keith Bell said yesterday that 570 people were repatriated in January at a cost of $68,000.
“As I speak, there are 395 irregular migrants detained at the detention center,” Bell said in the House of Assembly.
“Madam Speaker, contrary to popular belief, we have 255 Cubans compared to 128 Haitian nationals there. We have 14 women and children in our safe houses.”
He added, “Despite the volatile unrest in Haiti last week, we successfully repatriated all 375 people who were in Inagua. There are no people at this time in Inagua.
“In 2022, repatriation flights cost $1,506,077.10.
“Thus far in 2023, 570 persons were repatriated to their homeland during the month of January, the majority of whom were Cubans (167) and Haitians (368).
“This was done at a cost of $68,768.17.
“The cost of meals for irregular migrants is presently $30 a day. Other subsidiary costs for accommodating irregular migrants include healthcare supplies, clothing, cleaning supplies, laundry services.”
A worsening economic and security situation in Haiti has led to hundreds of migrants arriving in Bahamian territory. Officials said skyrocketing inflation in Cuba, along with political unrest, has also led to a wave of Cubans fleeing for the United States.
There has been a wave of interceptions of irregular migrants in The Bahamas, mainly Cubans and Haitians. The US Coast Guard stopped a Haitian boat with nearly 400 onboard recently.
A local activist group has latched onto the issue and staged demonstrations and social media campaigns on the issue and has accused the government of taking a soft approach.
Outside Parliament last week, the group chanted “Brave got to go”.
The immigration minister has called for cooler heads on the issue.