I thank you for the opportunity to express a view on the subject that most Bahamians and non-Bahamians have either engaged in or have had a view on given the results of the hurricane that just visited our land.
There appears to be a lot of non-nationals who are expressing the view that we as a people are not extending sympathy as is expected to those affected, no matter their race. The word expressed by many is that we, indigenous Bahamians, seem to take and grasp this opportunity to withhold and deprive those non-nationals affected of the basic rights to which they are entitled.
Some have gone as far as to label us as xenophobic or despiteful of our brothers and sisters from other Caribbean countries who find themselves here in our land. While I cannot with clean hands say that there is no truth to this statement, I can and do say that those guilty thereof are in the minority.
I hold no brief for the Bahamian who does not respect and hold the non-national as a brother and neighbor. But I understand the feeling of the Bahamian who experiences the everyday strain these non-nationals bring in the land that spawned me.
Madam Editor, I have no axe to grind with the non-nationals who come to this land through the front door and blend themselves into the fabric of this land and contribute to its development by being good and loyal citizens.
How do I describe this type of non-national? Easy. These can be considered as group A, as they came on a registered plane or boat entered through immigration, received a permit to stay, reside and work and pay national insurance.
They have apartments or houses for which they pay landlords rent or reside in structurally-approved buildings on land that they have permission to reside on.
They have bank accounts with approved institutions and pay their share of taxes. They enroll their children in schools and teach them to learn, respect and engage in the cultural aspects of this land.
On the other hand, the xenophobia I understand my fellow countrymen exhibit is directed at those who are the complete opposite and are considered group B.
That is, those who comes on boats or planes and do not get immigration clearance to enter this land. They receive no permits to reside or work, and pay no national insurance.
They live in shacks that are built on land they have no permission to build on. They have no bank accounts and do not contribute to the cultural enhancement of this land.
They use the educational and health facilities for which they pay no taxes and they have no loyalty to our flag.
While the recent hurricane was a disaster for all who were in the grip thereof, one cannot help but notice that the vast majority of persons who are crying about unfairness fall into the group B category.
My belief is that all those who need assistance in the storm’s aftermath should receive it. After a settling down period, those in group A should be assisted to regroup and regain their lives as they were prior to the hurricane. Those in group B should be assisted with returning to the land of their birth as a matter of urgency.
The question I have been pondering is this: if you came here as an illegal immigrant (group B) and it matters not how long you have been here or how many children you have had while here, are you not still an illegal immigrant no matter the amount of time spent here?
The children you had cannot be considered Bahamians as they were born to illegal immigrants who had no right to be here in the first place. I was taught that if you start wrong it matters not the time spent in between; you still wrong.
Another matter is there are some who claim that they have permits to work so they consider themselves legal.
The question I have is, how many of these are permits to engage in say gardening and they are performing some other task or activity?
Take it a step further; if the permit is for a house or business that is no longer in place and the owners have relocated, then the job is nonexistent so they have no permit. Right?
We all know — and by now I hope they realize it — that our government has done some things that are not effective in the aftermath of the recent hurricane.
They seem to not know how to use the resources available and seek and use those in their employ who have the ability to organize and effectively implement efforts.
There were some decisions made in the past month by our prime minister (PM) that any senior in our high school could analyze, scratch their heads at and effect changes differently.
Does it show good leadership that the PM created a minister of state for disaster in his office when he has a minister of state resident in the area affected by the disaster in his office?
How does he appoint a coordinator when he has a seasoned administrator resident in the affected area?
If he is serious about the “people’s time” then make the elected MPs coordinators for areas that they are already elected and paid to oversee. Is the PM not now the minister for disaster? So why do we need another minister when he has state ministers and MPs in his office and party?
Anyway, all I say is any and all non-nationals who did not enter the country properly, no matter how many years ago, the children they had while here should not be allowed to be in this land legally.
Treat all with dignity and offer assistance to all who were in the affected area, but a month later? Time for them to return to their land of birth so that we can get on with rebuilding this land for all who came legally and can thus claim a part of this land.
I don’t support the way this present government operates, but in this instance, our view on removing those who have no right to be here is one and the same.