The prime minister’s xenophobia

The prime minister has given over to hyperbole in an effort to gain favor with those Bahamians who harbor ugly xenophobic attitudes toward all things foreign.

Amazingly, these feelings do not translate to the behavior of the prime minister or those who support his anti-foreign beliefs, when the foreigner is a Bahamian who has chosen to live, legally or illegally, in some other country.

Perhaps the prime minister and those who support his hateful rhetoric will tell us how many of their sons and daughters have chosen to live abroad and whether any of them have qualifications and talents that cannot be easily performed by natives of the countries where they have chosen to live.

They may also advise whether any of those sons and daughters benefitted from Bahamas government scholarships or education loans and explain why they have not returned to The Bahamas to fill the vacancies supposedly being filled by foreign persons.

The prime minister expressed his concern about the number of foreign nationals working in The Bahamas one week after the Ministry of Education advised that it was recruiting some 60 teachers from Cuba to teach agricultural science, auto mechanics, biology, chemistry, electrical installation, mathematics, Spanish and French. Are they to have Bahamian understudies?

The prime minister’s allegation that nine out of every 10 babies born at Princess Margaret Hospital during his tenure there as a physician were born to illegals is untrue.

He would be hard pressed to find statistics to support his irrational statement made on the floor of the House of Assembly.

As minister of health in 2011, he admitted that the number of births to Haitian nationals, presumably not all without legal status, amounted to around 12 percent of annual live births at Princess Margaret Hospital.

His reference to a single story making the rounds on social media that depicted the unlawful action by a supposed citizen of the Turks and Caicos Islands in detaining and tying up an individual he or she believed to be an illegal immigrant and delivering him to a police station, is not the behavior that a prime minister ought to be referencing in Parliament, lest it encourages lawlessness among the population.

The prime minister’s attack on international professionals engaged in the financial services sector demonstrates his ignorance of the business.

The business is, by its nature, international.

Countless Bahamians engaged in the field have worked and continue to work in other major international financial centers around the world sharing their knowledge of the business while learning aspects of the business in other countries.

Foreign nationals engaged in The Bahamas as bankers, trust officers, insurance appraisers, accountants or investment analysts are similarly engaged. And truth be told, the number of work permit holders in those fields are few, having dwindled from a high point when foreign employees dominated in these areas in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

It is true that many foreigners remain in The Bahamas for longer than the life of a single work permit. Some stay because a Bahamian cannot be identified to fill the post. Some others remain because of ties they develop while in The Bahamas, marrying and making The Bahamas their home.

The prime minister claims that he seeks a law-abiding Bahamas but he spews venom that can well lead to lawlessness among the population who understand his words as an invitation for them to take the law into their own hands.

This is not only unbecoming of the prime minister, it is irresponsible, indeed shameful.

No one wants to encourage disregard of our immigration laws or building code regulations.

We all agree that opportunities for employment ought to be available for Bahamian citizens on a priority basis.

We do not believe, however, that to achieve these things we need to adopt the language, style and behaviors of tyrants and authoritarian bullies.

Shame on the prime minister. He owes us an apology.

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