Bahamas New Immigration Policy Could Render Thousands Stateless

EspañolThe new Bahamian immigration policy is illegal, immoral, and designed to strike fear into the Haitian-Bahamian population, says Fred Smith, president of the Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association.

According to the new policy that went into effect on November 1, migrants are required to carry their passports at all times and provide evidence that they are legally able to live or work in the country. The Bahamian government also announced it will no longer accept first-time applicants requesting residency or work permits.

The policy is also expected to affect thousands of children. Under the new law, the government will no longer issue “identity certificates” to children born in the Bahamas to migrant parents. “Since these documents are necessary to apply for Bahamanian citizenship, this could leave thousands of children stateless,” said human-rights NGO Amnesty International.

According to the NGO, the policy is a violation of human rights and has been disproportionately used to target the Haitian-Bahamian community.

However, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell, who first announced the new policy in September, says these measures are a much-needed step. “There is so much criminality involved in immigration that these new rules and procedures are necessary in order to get on top of this problem.”

Since put into effect, the government’s crackdown on illegal immigration has resulted in daily immigration checks, late-night raids on migrant communities, and mass arrests. Thousands of Haitians, and Bahamians of Haitian descent, now fear expulsion and deportation without due process.

Daphne Campbell, a Florida State representative and Haitian immigrant, has called for a boycott of the Bahamas. Campbell has said she will not relent until tourists and international businesses boycott the island nation over its immigration policies. “I’m asking all, all cruises and all tourists, to make sure every industry boycotts the Bahamas to end discrimination against Haitian children,” she said.

Florida State Representative Daphne Campbell, of Haitian descent, called last week for a boycott on the Bahamas. She vowed to stop at nothing until tourists and international businesses boycott this country because of controversial immigration policies. “Boycott Bahamas! Boycott Bahamas to end discrimination against Haitian children!,” she said.

The Bahamas has become a major transit point for Caribbean migrants looking to reach the United States.

Sources: Telesur, Bahamas Weekly.

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