Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis warned yesterday that companies that hire undocumented workers will be “disciplined severely”.
“I know that companies are hiring in Abaco, being contracted,” Minnis told The Nassau Guardian.
“I send them a warning: do not hire an illegal. We will check and you will be dealt with severely.
“We are sending a warning to those companies who got contracts and who are going to Abaco and Grand Bahama to work. We will be checking and you will be disciplined severely if you are caught hiring any illegals.”
The prime minister said the warning was not only for Abaco and Grand Bahama – which suffered major destruction during Hurricane Dorian last month – but rather “the whole country”.
“We will be aggressively checking and if one is caught you will be disciplined severely,” he said.
“No permits can be applied for from within the country. You must return to your home country to apply for work permits, and that is being enforced.”
The illegal immigration issue has also been a hot topic of discussion on social media in the wake of Dorian – the strongest storm to hit The Bahamas.
On Sunday, Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson told The Guardian that the government intends to enforce the immigration laws. He said if there are undocumented migrants in shelters, they, too, would be repatriated.
In the immediate aftermath of Dorian, the government had announced that repatriation of storm victims who are illegal immigrants was on hold.
During a communication in the House of Assembly on Wednesday, Minnis sent a notice “to all those who are illegal that they can leave voluntarily or they will be forced to leave”.
He noted that the government will treat the migrants “in a humane manner”.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) yesterday raised concerns about the vulnerability of migrants from islands impacted by Dorian.
“Not only must migrants not be left out of the humanitarian response, but the increased vulnerability to exploitation and abuse must be recognized,” it said.