By Fred Mitchell MP
Minister for Immigration
House of Assembly
9th February 2015
The press in The Bahamas have published two articles, one by Fred Smith Q C and the other by the Nassau Institute. Both statements published information which should not go unanswered lest the public accept the information therein as true and correct. They purport to describe the law and policies in The Bahamas as it relates to immigration. They go on to make assertions based on their statements of law which are incorrect.
The statements published by Fred Smith Q C on 3rd February in The Tribune and by the Nassau Institute in the Nassau Guardian on 6th February are replete with errors and untruths.
The Nassau Institute claims that the Immigration Department is implementing a revised policy to grant permits and charge fees for children born here to go to school.
That is false. No new fees are being introduced for immigration fees and there is no new policy as it relates to permission for non-nationals to go to school in The Bahamas. The fee remains the 100 dollars processing fee and 25 dollars for the issuance of the permit. The fee and the requirement for such a permit has not changed since the PLP took office in 2012.
The Institute also said: “The Department of Immigration recently raised work permit taxes for expatriate workers ( mainly professionals) to work in the private sector…”
That too is false. No news fees have been introduced for work permits since the PLP came to office in 2012.
The Nassau Institute also said: “ Work permits for foreigners to work for the government are issued without hesitation at the stroke of a pen…”
That too is false. There is no requirement in law for the employees of the government who are non-nationals to have a work permit.
The article also keeps speaking about people born in The Bahamas who they claim are left stateless. Stateless means that the children have no citizenship. With regard to the children of Haitians, the Haitian government has indicated that all children of Haitian citizens wherever born are Haitian at birth. So if that claim is being made with regard to those children, that too is false.
The Nassau Institute says that “ the inherent danger is when Immigration laws are subject to the whim of the minister, Fred Mitchell in this instance, instead of impartial law. The unintended consequences might be many as they are varied.”
Mr. Speaker, all laws are administered by some authority. They do not exist and apply themselves without human hands. The decisions of the Minster for Immigration are quasi- judicial and are not exercised according to whim but in accordance with known and established polices. The principle is that work permits are issued only in circumstances where Bahamians are not available for the jobs and the question of whether a Bahamian is or is not available for a job is certified and monitored by the Department of Labour. There is no whim of the Minister exercised in this matter.
Fred Smith Q C wrote the following:
“ [ The Minister] failed to identify any section of the Immigration or Education Act which makes the “ new Visa Rules” under the “ New Immigration Education Policy” lawful.
“The New Rules require children born in The Bahamas of foreign parents to get a student visa. In addition, the new November documentation policy is not sanctioned by any law either.”
With regard to children born to non-Bahamian parents, Mr. Smith wrote: “At 18, they are entitled to receive a Certificate of Registration as a citizen. Before then, they are “Citizens in Waiting”. They are not “stateless” as Fred Mitchell suggests…
Mr. Smith also says of the requirement for a permit to reside for children who are non-national: “The new immigration student visa policy conflicts with the Education Act… Minister Mitchell is acting ultra vires the Immigration Act, the Education Act and the Constitution.”
Mr. Speaker let me first repeat what I said at the Business Outlook Seminar on 29th January:
New rules are going to be introduced. For example, all schools will be asked to be sure that any foreign national in a Bahamian school has a student permit to be in The Bahamas as of the opening of the fall term. The annual permit costs 25 dollars with a 100 dollar processing fee and every non-national should have one, including those born here to non-national parents.
I said nothing about a student visa.
Secondly, I have never ever said or suggested that children born to non- Bahamian parents in The Bahamas are stateless. If Mr. Smith is referring to the children of Haitians born in The Bahamas, the government of Haiti has affirmed that the children of Haitians born anywhere are Haitian at birth so they are not stateless.
There is no such thing in law as a “citizen in waiting”. You are either a citizen or not.
The allegation that the new policies are ultra vires the constitution and the Immigration and Education Acts is false.
The Immigration Act requires all non- nationals in the country to have a landed status. While the constitution does provide a right to apply to be registered as a citizen at age 18 and before the19th birthday to non-nationals born here, it confers no immigration status on them. Because they are not citizens of The Bahamas, they must have an immigration status.
That means their parents should apply for them to get a permit to reside. Permits to reside cost 25 dollars with a processing fee of 100 dollars.
Thousands of children hold them in this country today. This is not a new requirement. That is the existing law and all non-nationals in the country are expected to comply with the law. Most are complying.
The Department has obtained an opinion from the Attorney General’s office on this matter. We have been advised that the policies of the Department are in compliance with the constitution and all applicable laws of The Bahamas.
New License Plates rolled out for Turks & Caicos
By Dana Malcolm
#TurksandCaicos, December 6, 2022 – The long-awaited new license plates for the Turks and Caicos have arrived, and notable changes have been made to them. The new license plates were gazetted to come into effect on December 1st, along with the new rules regarding tints. Wilbur Caley, Head of the Department of Motor Vehicles, shared the updated designs with Magnetic Media.
Each inhabited island now has their own specific plate, and so too do the highest public officers in the country, including the Governor and his Deputy; the Premier and his Deputy; Speaker; Attorney General; Opposition Leader; and all Ambassadors, Ministers and MPs.
The island-specific plates apply to all private vehicles, charter vehicles and taxis. The new Grand Turk plates feature a cactus on a green background; the North Caicos plates feature; Providenciales plates have what appears to be Grace Bay Beach; Middle Caicos plates show a native basket weaving; Salt Cay shows a depiction of a TC Islander working the salt flats and South Caicos has a red lobster on an orange background.
New plates are also in store for company vehicles, rentals and car dealers.
All drivers in the TCI must get these new plates affixed to their vehicles. Caley explained that over 16,000 pairs were in stock, and the DMV had 4,000 more on the way.
The DMV has had trouble with residents not outfitting their vehicles with the proper plates before. The public has had trouble with the DMV not having sufficient plates in stock, waiting months to be handed a plate.
The Department had explained those days of shortages are in the past, they now have sufficient plates for both front and back end tagging of vehicles. It is also touted as being part of a crime prevention strategy by Police.
Back in June, Caley had told Magnetic Media that an estimated 3,000 vehicles were driving around the islands with incorrect plates; an offence which incurs a $300 fine.
Residents without license plates have roughly a year to apply for and affix the new plates to their vehicles. Residents must do so between December 1st 2022, and November 30th 2023.
Barbados to host the 12th staging of the Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM)
By Sherrica Thompson
#Barbados, December 6, 2022 – The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Coordinating Unit (CU), in collaboration with its partners, will be hosting the 12th Caribbean Conference on Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) from December 7-9 at the Savannah Beach Resort & Spa in Barbados.
The event is being delivered under the theme: “CDM Road to Resilience: Checkpoint 2022 – Advancing a Risk-based Multi-hazard Approach during COVID-19 & Beyond” and is scheduled to bring together over 1,000 delegates in person and online.
The conference will also be focusing on several matters throughout its duration. These include:
- Facilitating knowledge exchanges on pathways to resilience using a risk-based multi-hazard approach.
- Highlighting progress towards the achievement of CDM results within the priority areas of Institutional Strengthening, Knowledge Management, Sector Mainstreaming and Community Resilience.
- Showcasing relevant research and applicable tools for the advancement of CDM in the region
- Highlighting challenges and opportunities for CDM based on lessons learned from COVID-19 and the multi-hazard environment in the Caribbean
- Providing a forum for the engagement and empowerment of youth in supporting the DRM agenda
- Strengthening DRM capabilities of CDM Stakeholders
Dominica VOTED today
#Dominica, December 6, 2022 – Approximately 81,000 citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica were registered to vote for a new government today in the country’s general election. A total of 45 candidates were on the ballots across the 21 constituencies.
The Dominica Labour Party (DLP) had a six-seat lead in the National Assembly as they were unopposed in six constituencies. The DLP, Team Unity Dominica and several independent candidates competed in the elections.
However, the country’s main opposition parties, the United Workers Party and Dominica Freedom Party, boycotted the elections. Neither of the parties had a candidate contesting in the elections. Polls closed at 5 pm. The country is now waiting to see who will be announced as its leader.
(CARICOM) sent Election Observation Mission to oversee Dominica’s election
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) has sent the CARICOM Election Observation Mission (CEOM) to monitor Dominica’s General Elections on Tuesday, December 6.
The CARICOM Election Observation Mission proposes to meet with leaders of political parties, the electoral officials and other stakeholders of Dominica and will monitor the voting process, including the opening of the poll, the casting of votes, the closing of the poll and the counting of the ballots.
The Team arrived in Dominica between December 2-3 and will depart on December 8.
Leader of the Dominica Labour Party (DLP), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, last month announced a snap election two years before the constitutional deadline.
The snap poll has received backlash from opposition parties who have announced that they will boycott the elections.
The opposition parties have also been calling on supporters to protest the polls and the international community to not recognise the government that emerges after this Tuesday’s election.
OAS Election Observers also welcomed in Dominica ahead of national poll
Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, Dr. Roosevelt Skerrit, welcomed the representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS) election observer mission for a courtesy call at the Office of the Prime Minister on Saturday, December 3, 2022.
Former Prime Minister of Bahamas Perry Christie, the chief of the Electoral Mission of OAS in Dominica, met with OAS specialists to discuss the current status of the electoral organization, technology & justice, political finance & women’s participation in the electoral process.
Furthermore, Perry Christie heard the perspectives of the members of the Electoral Reform Coalition on the electoral process in Dominica.
He met with others to listen to their concerns about the upcoming snap general elections. The Chief of the Electoral Mission of the OAS in Dominica met with the Political Leader of Team Unity Dominica, Carlos Charles, to hear his impressions regarding the General Elections.
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