‘Time to leave’

In this file photo Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis delivers his contribution inside the House of Assembly yesterday.

All illegal immigrants, regardless of their nationality, have until December 31, 2017 to leave the country, said the nation’s chief, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

Failure to do so, will result in aggressive pursuit and deportation, stated the prime minister.
Dr. Minnis, who was giving his communication in the House of Assembly Wednesday (October 11) morning noted that his government remains resilient in their efforts to confront corruption at all levels.

Declaring that law and order will be maintained throughout the archipelago, Dr. Minnis said that his government intends to combat lawlessness at all levels.

“Mr. Speaker, law and order are essential for development; moreover, when we ignore or disrespect law and order, in small things, we tend to adopt this attitude with the bigger things. “Mr. Speaker, I note today, that the government intends to vigorously address traffic and motor vehicles violations, including tinted glass, parking in handicapped spots, broken lights and other violations.

“There will be no toleration for traffic offences. My government will amend existing laws to increase penalties for the infraction of laws, dealing with a number of environmental issues; those who ignore those laws will face legal consequences,” said the prime minister.

“Mr. Speaker, I advise the House that the government will continue to address the vexing issue of illegal migration. We will continue to concentrate on the Immigration Department, with particular emphasis on the process for granting and renewing work permits and visas.

“We will continue the process of Permanent Residency Applications, for those who have legally been in The Bahamas for an extensive period of time, who have contributed to The Bahamas and satisfied the requirements. This is fair and just cause of action. We will also continue to grant citizenship to those who are legally entitled,” Dr. Minnis added.

“Mr. Speaker, I do not think some people understand what it is like when you are legally entitled to citizenship, but you do not have the proper documents. As was pointed out by the Member for St. Anne’s (Brent Symonette), you cannot open a bank account, you cannot travel, you have difficulty entering the University of The Bahamas (UB), any tertiary education; you are placed in no man’s land. Until you live it, you do not understand it.

“We must be a country that abides by the rule of law, those migrants who are here illegally must leave by December 31, 2017, after which they will be aggressively pursued and deported,” he reiterated.

“This applies, Mr. Speaker, to all nationalities. Those Bahamians and residents who employ illegal migrants have until December 31, 2017, to regularize these individuals or stop employing them.

“I implore immigration officers, to execute their duties in a profession and humane manner. Those who illegally employ such migrants are legally liable and they will be prosecuted. We must be a country of law and order,” stated Dr. Minnis.

Prior to the prime minister’s remarks, Minister of Financial Services, Trade, industry and Immigration, Brent Symonette noted that having served as the Minister of Immigration in previous FNM Administration, he is pleased that the many issues relative to immigration will be addressed and rectified.

“Mr. Speaker, the issue of immigration is contained in very distinct parts of our law, the Constitution, The Bahamas Nationality Act and the Immigration Act. It deals with persons who are entitled to citizenship, which you have heard me say is a very topical issue which we have to put in the forefront for discussion.

“And it also deals with the issue of who is legally entitled to be in The Bahamas. This is my second time in Immigration and it gives me goose bumps and excitement, because we are finally going to do something about immigration in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

“Mr. Speaker, in so doing and in saying, it will be done humanely, passionately, efficiently and within the gambit of the Constitution and the Law of The Bahamas. It is high time we deal with this problem,” said Symonette.

“All of us have been touched by it, we have family members that have been touched by it, school friends, we have any number of constituents, any number of persons that have been touched by the fact. Whether it is not being able to open up a bank account, not being able to get a National Insurance card, not be able to get a spousal permit, not being able to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas, having been born here.
“For too long Mr. Speaker, we have swept it under the carpet. Now is the time that it will be dealt with – fairly, humanely and within the Constitution of The Bahamas,” stated Symonette.

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