Friday, May 18, 2007

Bahamas' New PM Promises Immigration Reform

This past couple of years have been especially tough for Haitian nationals residing in the Bahamas, characterized by--amongst other things--last year's race riots in Nassau Village and the former government's heavy handed approach to roundups and deportations.

A recent article in the Bahama Journal indicates that the newly elected prime minister Hubert Ingraham "vows to eliminate 'offensive' immigration practices." Some of the issues that the new PM hopes to address include timely processing of (1) citizenship applications by persons born in the Bahamas, (2) residency permits for spouses of Bahamian citizens, and (3) residency status for children of Bahamian women born outside of the Bahamas. Ingraham has indicated that "These are offensive and unacceptable things and we shall tackle them early." Likewise, the new immigration minister Tommy Turnquest has promised that these issues will be given "quick and speedy consideration."

Elsworth Johnson, acting president of the Bahamas Human Rights Network (BHRN), has indicated the group's support for these efforts but cautiously added that "I would not go on the limb to say that the FNM would be any different than the PLP, or that the PLP was bad. If you apply and the proper procedures are followed and you find that the person is entitled, then within a reasonable time, it should be granted." Johnson also stressed that BHRN has the exact same expectations for the new government as it did for the former government.

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