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Mitchell Responds to Laing’s Comments on Immigration

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell responded to comments made by former State Minister for Finance in the Ingraham administration Zhivargo Laing on Wednesday.

Minister Mitchell said he would not allow on his watch, the opportunity for any message about deliberate government involvement with stunted immigration policies to reach the world.

Two days ago Mr. Laing said in a local daily that “Unless there is a liberalization of the immigration policy, we can expect, without the same significant foreign investment taking place, this stagnation in the Grand Bahama economy for a very long time.”

Mr. Laing along with former Bahamas Chamber of Commerce President Dionisio D’Aguilar both made similar statements about the nature of migration and its value to the economy.

According to Minister Mitchell, Mr. Laing is quoted as saying that whenever governments become unpopular they start to be reactionary and panic and say whatever it takes to make the people happy again.

Minister Mitchell wished to reassure the public that moving forward, policies are being set in motion to tackle the issue of illegal migration.

“If you remember, back in October I believe last year, we had three days of people coming into this country on these boats 100 at a time,” he stated.

“How could that be sustained and how could anybody argue that policies should not be put in place to stop that from taking place? It couldn’t be sustained and that’s all this is designed to do, is to stop that from happening.”

Mr. Mitchell also insists there is no issue with lawful migration.

As for resource problems he said, a letter of intent had been signed to improve technological systems.

“There’s a new boarder management system being put in place, it’s going to be less labour intensive. We’re going to ultimately have electronic entry gates at the airport, so you’ll be able to use your passport and swipe,” he said.

“We’ve signed onto the advanced passenger information system and I’m just signing off this morning on the further recruitment of immigration officers because obviously you need man power.”

The minister says while the issue is a difficult one to manage, action will be seen in the short- midterm months ahead to ease the situation and the revamp is expected to cost about $18 million.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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