Categorized | Featured, National News

Mitchell Not Backing Down- Defends Immigration Officers

Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell is defending his immigration officers who detained and removed an American Atlantis employee from off the Paradise Island property because she allegedly was not authorised to work in The Bahamas.

The woman, who is a sea lion trainer at Dolphin Cay, was taken off the premises after she failed to produce documents that proved that she could live and work in the country.

Minister Mitchell, in a press statement, said the officers were only doing their jobs and despite his recent comments in the media, the action was not politically motivated.

“I said at the start of my term in this job that immigration does not consult me or need to consult me about enforcing the laws of The Bahamas,” he said.

“Immigration is a law enforcement agency. There are rules that apply. All non-national employees in The Bahamas must be the holders of work permits to be gainfully employed in The Bahamas and they ought to have it in their possession as evidence of the lawful right to be in The Bahamas. That is the law.”

“Where issues on particular matters arise, the Department is open and available to help resolve those issues.”
However, while the woman’s work permit had expired and the renewal denied back in December, Atlantis had filed an appeal, which during the process the woman is allowed to remain and work.

Since then, Senior VP of Public Affairs, Ed Fields said the employee has been released and reported to work yesterday.
Minister Mitchell also denied that he was being tight-lipped on the issue.

“To describe the minister as being tight-lipped on this issue as one publication did misstates the position. This minister follows the law and does so scrupulously,” he said.

“Notwithstanding the anxiety of the press for information and the entitlement generally of the public to know, a minister is not empowered to violate “willy nilly” private and confidential applications and communications between employers, employees and the government.”

The minister said it is regrettable that on occasions the execution of policy causes some confusion, which appears to have been the case at Atlantis on Tuesday.

Minister Mitchell has already announced proposed changes to the country’s immigration policy as it relates to work permits.
He said the detractors of the government’s work permit policy would be wise again to revert to rationality and not hysteria to deal with what is a reasonable and necessary policy to defend Bahamian jobs.

“I went to great pains previously to point out that this government and its policies are not capricious or arbitrary and all complaints and concerns are examined and addressed in what we believe is a judicious and timely fashion given the resources of the department,” he said.

Minister Mitchell has been pushing for a reduction in the amount of work permits companies allow. He also encouraged those companies to fill open positions with Bahamians.

Atlantis to date has about 75 employees on work permits, which only accounts for 1 per cent of the overall staff.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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