Spread the love

Avellon Williams 

BAHAMAS- Keith Bell, Minister of Immigration in The Bahamas, rejected the claim that there is an immigration crisis, stating that the government “absolutely” has illegal immigration under control.

Minister Keith Bell /Image, BP/

In response to the Free National Movement’s call for the government to address illegal immigration, Bell responded, “What immigration crisis?”

According to him, this country has always had these challenges and issues, and the government has invested all of its resources, “I commend the law enforcement agents for their efforts.”

“What the opposition needs to do is get behind our law enforcement and the government to ensure that we continue to put our best foot forward and we have to speak collectively with one voice.”

Upon being asked if the government had control over the situation, Bell responded, “Absolutely, we do.”

According to him, the Bahamian authorities have intercepted every boat that tries to enter Bahamian waters with undocumented migrants, though it is unclear how he can make such a determination.

FNM Deputy Shanendon Cartwright /Image, TT/

Bell was responding to FNM Deputy Leader Shanendon Cartwright, who called on the government to “deal with the illegal immigration” issue on Sunday.

Xenophobia is not a factor here, as we recognize the valuable contribution legal immigrants made, particularly from Caribbean countries, to the development of our nation,” Cartwright said.

“This is a question of ensuring a long-term sustainable future for the Bahamian people who have an inalienable right and privilege to expect that their patronage be secured and their interest to be prioritized in their own country.”

Cartwright pointed out that nine women and an infant were buried on Saturday after they died in a human smuggling tragedy off New Providence on July 24.

After the mother’s body was retrieved, authorities removed the infant from her womb and buried him in her coffin.

There were eight other deceased victims whose families claimed them.

Illegal immigration /Image, TT/

In contrast to Bell’s assertion that the Bahamas do not have an immigration crisis, Central and South Abaco MP John Pinder expressed concern last week about illegal immigrants in an Abaco shantytown that has emerged since Hurricane Dorian destroyed the Mud and Pigeon Peas shantytowns in 2019.

MP John Pinder /Image, TT/

According to Pinder, illegal immigrants are a security threat in the shantytown.

According to him, Haitian people from The Bahamas who have lived in the shantytown their whole lives also live in it, but “another group wants to basically take over the area and that group is aggressive and uncaring.”

According to Cartwright, immigration laws must be enforced by the government.

“It is scandalous that a government MP can pinpoint an entire community of illegal migrants that the government has left undisturbed,” he said.

“It is baffling that the Department of Immigration has not yet acted.”

/Image, BKW/

“We are all aware that the shantytown issue on Abaco is before the courts, but there are apparently many other laws being violated that do not pertain to the buildings in those communities.”

On Saturday, a funeral service was held for nine unidentified women and an infant who were killed in a human smuggling accident off New Providence on July 24. 

Haitian Ambassador Louis Harold Joseph, chargè d’affaires at the Haitian Embassy in The Bahamas, urged Haitians to avoid engaging in illegal activities.

Ambassador Louis Harold Joseph /Image, TWITTER/

My brothers and sisters, it is true that the situation in our country is difficult, but this is not a sufficient reason to undertake perilous trips,” Joseph said.

“Organizers of illegal trips are not necessarily in your best interest. The main purpose of their actions is to make money. If they were in your interest, they would have taken all the necessary measures to protect the lives of their passengers, the life that the Lord God gave us and that we have the obligation to protect.”

Since January, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) has apprehended a significant number of migrants in Bahamian waters.

/Image, FB/

According to authorities, more than 2,600 migrants have been apprehended so far this year.

In the last three years, those figures have exceeded those of apprehensions.

In 2019, 342 migrants were apprehended, 249 in 2020, and 1,644 in 2021, according to RBDF data. In the period from January 1 to September 7, over 1,800 Haitians were repatriated by the Immigration Department.

/Image, NN/

In recent months, Haiti’s economic and social challenges have worsened, with street gangs committing several atrocities.

Prime Minister Philip Davis said in August that the deteriorating situation in that country poses a security threat to The Bahamas.

According to the UN Secretary General’s spokesman, António Guterres is “deeply concerned” about the situation in Haiti, where civil unrest has stalled the country.

“The secretary-general is particularly concerned about the safety of Haitians, particularly the most vulnerable, and calls for calm and maximum restraint,” he said.

His message is to all relevant stakeholders to take immediate steps toward de-escalating the situation, avoiding violence, and enabling the Haitian National Police to protect the population in its capacity as a security agency.

/Image, SC/

From January to June 30, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner had documented 934 murders, 684 injuries, and 680 kidnappings nationwide.

From July 8-12, there were at least 234 more gang-related deaths or injuries in the city’s Cité Soleil area.

CARICOM leaders are expected to meet in the Bahamas this year to discuss Haiti’s deteriorating situation.

About Author

Avellon Williams

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *