Algernon Cargill, the government-appointed coordinator of hurricane relief efforts in Abaco, said yesterday that undocumented migrants have no reason to return to the storm-ravaged island.
“If you don’t have a purpose of being in Abaco, like to rebuild or relatives and you don’t have any legal status to be in The Bahamas, you should not go to Abaco,” Cargill said.
“For example, there are rumors that Haitians are returning to Abaco, correct? So they have no legal status to return to Abaco, so why are they returning to Abaco? So, when we say, ‘shouldn’t go back’, we’re actually referring to that group of people.
“They have no status or no reason to be there. You can’t tell Bahamians not to go to Abaco. But if persons who are illegally in The Bahamas, they should not be traveling to Abaco.”
Earlier this month, Hurricane Dorian decimated large parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama, leaving hundreds missing and at least 56 dead.
In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Minister of Immigration Elsworth Johnson announced that the government would not carry out immigration exercises at shelters for hurricane victims.
However, at the time, Johnson said immigration officers on other Family Islands were still under “strict instructions” to carry out their duties in terms of apprehensions, detentions and reparations.
Johnson confirmed last night that the government intends to treat all illegal immigrants equally. He said being in a shelter would not protect anyone from deportation.