Categorized | National News

Immigration Changes On Tap

The government will soon adopt a sustained and disciplined approach to the country’s vexing illegal immigration woes, all in hopes of getting to the bottom of the problem.

It is a culture shift that could call for the public knowing their immigration status.
“The country has been far too slack with documentation on residency and the need to have identity documents. This country has a national security issue where it cannot say with certainty that the people who are here in our country are either Bahamian or people with permission to be in The Bahamas. We want to do our part at Immigration to ensure that this situation is cleaned up and made more document safe and compliant,” Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said.

“…I’m hoping the public will see changes like when the police make routine stops on the streets for alleged offences, they will also check for the immigration status of the people they stop. This is new culture and the question is going to be whether the public at large is prepared to accept this as a way of life. We’ll see how serious the nation is about this whole question of illegal immigration.”

He, however, stressed the need for officials to strike a balance in order to avoid creating an atmosphere of harassment.
The state of Arizona has a controversial “show-your-papers” immigration provision in place.
The measure, which is part of a broader law to combat illegal immigration in the state bordering Mexico, requires police to check the immigration status of people they stop and suspect are in the country illegally.

Civil and immigration rights activists were last week lodged in a last ditch appeal to block the provision from taking affect.
Opponents of the law also decry it as a mandate for the racial profiling of Hispanics, who make up nearly a third of Arizona’s population of 6.5 million people.

But this is not the only approach the Christie administration is considering adopting to deal with the country’s illegal immigration issue.
Pending immigration changes also include shifting some existing personnel into the enforcement unit.
“These are the men and women who often dress in fatigues, who do the door to door work on the ground and I expect that you will see a higher profile from them over the coming several months,” Mr. Mitchell revealed.

The minister said he has also asked the government to approve the hiring of additional immigration officers.

These officers, he said must be under the age of 30 years and when approved must come with the knowledge that they are coming to do paramilitary works.

This calls for working on shits, in the bushes, the high seas, the air and from island to island “at will and without notice.”

“Do not apply if you are not prepared to do this kind of work,” Minister Mitchell stressed.

“We’ll also have to look at the question of additional equipment for the enforcement unit updating their weapons, weapons training, crowd control measures and people to people skills.”

Then there is the whole issue of updating existing laws as well as the appeals procedure for illegal immigrants who are detained.

“Perhaps we might have to have a system of registered or licensed brokers who can deal with immigration applications and maybe even immigration judges. The public can look forward to a time of change at immigration,” Minister Mitchell promised.

The minister’s comments came during a visit to Andros last week.

He and South Andros MP, Picewell Forbes were on the island to thank resident of Mangrove Cay for stepping up to the plate and assisting – without hesitation – the almost 200 illegal Haitian nationals, whose vessel run aground last month.

It is believed that rough weather conditions brought on by Tropical Storm Isaac was to blame.

“You have us all made us proud for how you would have conducted yourselves and how you treated our brothers and sisters who could have ended up in an ill fated manner with many more lives being lost,” Mr. Forbes said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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