‘We’re doing all that we can’

PM defends govt’s approach to fighting illegal migration

Responding to criticism in some quarters that the government is not doing enough to address illegal immigration, Prime Minister Philip Davis yesterday defended his administration’s approach, arguing that it is doing everything it can.

“Maybe they can tell us what else we can do,” Davis said.

“We know that we are doing all that we can. Last year, we repatriated over 3,500 Haitians back to Haiti. There were over 40 incidents of our defense force sending boats and intercepting vessels and returning them over the last year.

“For this year, the RBDF has already interdicted many of them and sent them back home.

“They are going to continue to come. As long as the conditions in Haiti persist, we are going to have people trying to get out of Haiti.

“If you speak to them, most of them are not trying to get to The Bahamas. They are trying to get to the United States of America.

“Varying conditions get them into our waters and as they come into our waters, because of an international treaty, we are bound to process them and return them as quickly as we can. That’s what we’ve been doing.”

Davis’ comments came a day after former Immigration Minister A. Loftus Roker said there’s no sense the government is placing a strong enough focus on The Bahamas’ illegal immigration problem.

Davis was not asked about Roker’s specific comments, nor did he refer to the former minister.

Earlier this week, the prime minister told regional leaders in Argentina that the tragedy unfolding in Haiti poses a “substantial threat” to The Bahamas and neighboring countries.

He said yesterday that until the crisis in Haiti is resolved, things won’t change.

“The challenge is, as I pointed out to my fellow heads, until we fix Haiti, this will continue to happen,” he said.

“It’s a humanitarian crisis. People are desperate and desperate and dangerous migration will continue.”

More than 500 Haitian migrants have been caught trying to enter The Bahamas illegally so far this year.

The latest interception happened on Tuesday night when a sloop with an estimated 100 people onboard ran aground in South Andros.

Roughly half of the migrants were caught on the island, authorities said. Marines and immigration officers continue to search for the remaining migrants.

On Saturday, the US Coast Guard spotted an overloaded sail boat with over 390 Haitian migrants onboard. The migrants were turned over to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force and transported to Inagua.

Video of the sloop was posted on Twitter by the US Coast Guard and was widely shared on social media. It showed the migrants crammed on the deck, with no room to move.

The United States has called it one of the largest human smuggling operations in the region.

Thousands of Haitians have tried to flee the country in the wake of the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in 2021 and the ensuing violence and economic challenges.

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Travis Cartwright-Carroll

Travis Cartwright-Carroll is the news editor. He covers a wide range of national issues. He joined The Nassau Guardian in 2011 as a copy editor before shifting to reporting. He was promoted to news editor in January 2023.

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