#Bahamas, October 25, 2017 – Nassau – The Government of The Bahamas’ immigration policy is not based on any one individual group of persons residing locally, but about individuals from “all countries” who are here illegally, Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Hubert A. Minnis said Sunday.
Prime Minister Minnis also announced that Administration officials will create an Independent Commission to approve applications for citizenship in accordance with the Constitution “and our laws” to avoid any potential political interference. Responsibility for the approval of applications for citizenship will be removed from the Cabinet, except for cases of national security.
“It is not a policy solely about individuals from the Republic of Haiti. People of Haitian descent will not be especially targeted,” Prime Minister Minnis said. “The policy is about individuals from any country who are not legally in The Bahamas.
“This includes individuals from the Caribbean, South America, Central America and North America. The policy is also concerned with Bahamians who illegally employ individuals from anywhere in the world,” Prime Minister Minnis added.
Addressing worshipers attending the Sunday, October 22, 2017 morning service at the Metropolitan Church of the Nazarene, Prime Minister Minnis said The Bahamas must be a country that upholds its laws. The Prime Minister said the Government will be just, and humane, in upholding all of the country’s laws when it comes to immigration matters.
Administration officials, Dr. Minnis said, will act in accordance with the Constitution of The Bahamas and the demands of human dignity and social justice to grant residency and citizenship to those eligible individuals who qualify for such status.
“To the press ‘No I am not opening flood gates, but I will, and all of The Bahamas will, respect and enforce the laws of our country. We must uphold the law in terms of the grant of permanent residency and citizenship. We must uphold the law in terms of illegal migration and those who illegally employ individuals not in The Bahamas legally. Those Bahamians or otherwise who hire illegals are breaking our laws and will be prosecuted,” the Prime Minister added.
Prime Minister Minnis said while The Bahamas has a legal responsibility to enforce its immigration policies to the full extent of the law, the country must also be fair in terms of its immigration policies and practices as it is comprised of persons “who have their roots” from throughout the Caribbean and the world.
“We are made up of people from Africa, Europe and the Americas. We are made up of people from Dominica, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and from throughout the Caribbean. We are also made up of people from Haiti. The ties between The Bahamas and Haiti go back for much more than a century. Haiti and The Bahamas are bound together by history, by geography and by family ties.
“We must be fair and just towards those who have contributed in so many ways to The Bahamas. This means we must be fair in terms of our immigration practices and policies. It is not fair, nor just, for so many of our young people to be marginalized, isolated or placed in no man’s land (stateless). Many cannot open bank accounts, attend universities, or travel, in spite of finishing our High Schools and in some instances, performing at the top of the class.
“My Government will act in accordance with our Constitution and the demands of human dignity and social justice to grant residency and citizenship for eligible individuals who qualify for such status.
“Too many people have been waiting a long time to be granted permanent residency. Some people have to go year-to-year for a Work Permit when they should have been granted permanent residency some time ago. We must vigorously address this issue,” Prime Minister Minnis said.
By: Matt Maura (BIS)
Photo caption: Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Hubert Minnis, centre right, shakes hands as he enters Metropolitan Church of the Nazarene, and behind is Minister of Transport and Local Government the Hon. Frankie Campbell. They both take the podium to address the church audience, with the Minister of Transport assisting in Creole for the benefit of the audience.
(Photos/Yontalay Bowe/OPM Media Services)