17 Haitian nationals taken into custody

Just four days into the New Year, Bahamas Immigration officers in Grand Bahama apprehended 17 Haitian nationals on Saturday, January 4, 2020.

Grade One Immigration Officer Napthali Cooper, reported that officers arrived at the Lucayan Harbour, where they received 17 Haitians from the United States Coast Guard (USCG) Sunday morning. 

The group was intercepted by U.S. officials, when their attempt to be smuggled into the U.S. by boat failed. 

After being handed over to Immigration officials, the group of 17 was transported to Immigration headquarters for further processing and to be examined by the medical team from the Disease and Surveillance Unit of the Public Hospital Authority.

This is the first reported immigration matter for 2020 in Grand Bahama. 

The last incident reported was in 2019, when Haitian nationals were hauled into the Freeport Magistrate Court to answer for Illegal Landing charges, New Year Eve. 

Reports revealed that on Tuesday, December 31, 2019, Haitian nationals Unseul-Dieu Moise, Rodney Cheriscar, Eugene Prophet and Blandine Dorval were escorted into the Garnet Levarity Justice Centre by Immigration Officers. 

They appeared before Deputy Chief Magistrate Debbye Ferguson in Freeport Magistrate’s court #1 where they were charged with illegal landing. 

They were arraigned, charged with Illegal Landing and all pleaded guilty to the offence. 

The immigrants were convicted and fined $300.00 or in default of payment to serve one year in prison. All the defendants were ordered to be deported to Haiti upon payment of fines or after serving their custodial sentences.

Details in court revealed that on Tuesday (December 31) RBPF officers of the mobile patrol unit, while on routine patrol at the Fiesta Mailboat observed the four individuals acting in a suspicious manner. Officers questioned the Haitian nationals regarding legal documents for being in the country; however, they were unable to produce any proof of their legal status in the country and as a result they were arrested and cautioned. 

During further investigations by the Department of Immigration it was confirmed that all of the individuals entered the country illegally by boat. Additionally, it was discovered that Blandine Dorval was a repeat offender, who was arrested and deported on two previous occasions.

The Department assures members of the public that they would continue its commitment to carrying out the mandates of our agency to combat illegal migration by establishing effective border control management in compliance with the Statute Laws of the country.

The department of Immigration also took the opportunity to remind the public that is an offense to Harbour an Illegal Person by providing accommodation. 

If discovered all persons will be hauled before the courts and charged with the offense which upon summary conviction carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.00 and 5 years’ imprisonment or to both such fine and imprisonment. 

The Immigration department thanks the public for partnering with us in providing information relative to all breaches of the Immigration Laws.

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