Categorized | National News

Immigration Policies Under Scrutiny

The Bahamas’ immigration policies have come under serious scrutiny in  a major international declaration for its continuing practice of deporting people to Haiti without due process.

The Declaration of the Second Forum on Haitian Migration specifically criticized the migration polices of The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic and the Trump Administration as key examples of a growing tendency towards criminalization of irregular migration, discrimination against Haitian migrants and a deterioration of their human rights.

The Declaration is signed by more than 20 international organizations and human rights activists, including the Washington Office on Latin America; the Americas Network on Nationality and Statelessness; the Center for Justice and International Law; the Hope Border Institute and the National Lawyer’s Guild of the United States.

The Catholic Church was also  actively involved in the declaration and several affiliates are among the signatories, including the Jesuit network for Migrants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The Declaration underscored the fact that Haiti is currently not in a condition to receive and integrate deported Haitians. The reasons for this include the effects of successive natural disasters (the 2010 earthquake and 2016 Hurricanes Mathew/Maria), the cholera epidemic that was introduced to the country and persistent weakness of national institutions.

“Forcibly returning Haitians to these conditions will only destabilize the country. It will fuel in the short and long term the phenomena of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants and dangerous forms of migration.

“These persons’ human rights will deteriorate, they are likely to become more vulnerable socio-economically, to face increased racial discrimination and a deepening humanitarian scenario, ” the document states.

The Declaration is the latest in a series of public expressions of concern by international observers regarding the Bahamas’ controversial immigration policy. Last week, a senior United Nations official has warned that the Minnis Administration’s impending crackdown on irregular migrants discriminates against Haitians and risks the expulsion of people legally entitled to status in the country.

Dubravka Šimonović, the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women, during her inaugural country visit to the country, said the Prime Minister’s December 31 ultimatum to migrants to leave the country or face being rounded up and deported will lead to the “detention and quick deportation of hundreds of individuals, targeting the Haitian descent community disproportionately, some of whom may be born in the Bahamas.”

Written by Jones Bahamas

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