by Craig Butler
I don’t know if any of us who were born here and consider ourselves to be proud Bahamians really understand what predicament some of our compatriots find themselves in. Not only don’t we understand but many of us are also completely unsympathetic.
Like the outside child (and I use this analogy because many could identify with it) who never feels complete acceptance from the legitimate siblings, but who is also not responsible for the situation in which they find themselves, we treat the children of illegal immigrants with contempt and disdain.
Other countries have adopted a much more liberal approach to those that are born within their boarders, and many Bahamians can personally attest to this as they go to South Florida to have their children so that they may have the benefit of being American citizens.
However when the children of (particularly) Haitians and Jamaicans who are born here seek to assert their rights many of us would wish to see them fail. It is a shame that they only have the right to apply for Bahamian citizenship on reaching the age of majority - meaning there is no guarantee that they will receive it.
This leads to an undesirable set of circumstances whereby the individual is held in limbo for years without any real identity. A certificate of identity is issued for travel purposes, but getting a decent job is next to impossible without the necessary documentation that would allow them to be processed.
Is it any wonder that we are seeing an increase in the rate of crime committed by this class of persons? After all, our policies seem geared more towards dehumanization rather than inclusion thereby generating a feeling of self worth.
Why is it that an application should be pending in some cases for more than 10 years? Can there ever really be a reasonable explanation for this? If the powers that be have decided for some reason that the application is to be denied then I should think that could be achieved within a two year period, and naturally the same goes for those that have been approved.
I can tell you from a professional standpoint that getting information from the Department of Immigration is akin to pulling teeth without the benefit of anesthetic, and I’m sure that the department is more amenable to fielding questions from professionals as opposed to ordinary applicants.
But this is not an attempt to chastise the Department of Immigration, but rather a way of giving kudos. That is, of course, in respect to the Audit that was held over a two day period at the C R Walker School.
Whatever the reason was for holding it, and irrespective of the reservations held by some, it appears as though it was well received. A little assistance goes a long way and based on the lines there are many who wish to have their concerns addressed.
I would urge the Department of Immigration not to stop there however as there are other areas where the institution of guidelines approved by Cabinet can go a long way towards quelling discontent amongst applicants.
In the constitution there are several classes of persons that are entitled to citizenship (detailed in Chapter II Articles 3 through 14). Even so, many of these people experience problems in attaining what has been guaranteed, I speak mainly about the spouses of Bahamian males who are entitled upon marriage to be so registered but in actuality are granted spousal permits for up to five years.
There are of course good policy reason for doing so, but why is it that a spousal permit can only be granted for a five-year period and at the expiration of this time there is no provision for an extension, and a woman who would have clearly demonstrated during this period that this is not a marriage of convenience is forced to seek a work permit to remain in the country.
This is unacceptable and was an issue addressed by the prime minister during the campaign trail. Is the Department of Immigration now in a position to state that this set of circumstances has also been addressed and that such women will be automatically entitled, at the expiration of the five years, to citizenship or permanent residence with the right to work?
It is a positive step when the department seeks to address real concerns and systemic problems.
Senior Assistant Commissioner of Police.
Excuse me for pointing out what appears to be obvious to me and maybe others as well but I feel as though the controversy over the acceptance of valuable gifts by ACP Ellison Greenslade was poorly handled. The end result is that a once sterling record of service has been blemished.
During an appreciation banquet held in his honour on June 22 in Freeport, Grand Bahama ACP Greenslade received two Rolex watches, a Dodge Durango SUV, two cell phones and a decorative eagle piece. He should have refused to accept them at that time so as to avoid any questions of impropriety, but as they were presented by his fellow officers he apparently accepted the same without any thought as to whether he had compromised himself. In the circumstances, and based on the origin of the gifts, I dare say that many of us would have acted in a like manner.
Why then did it take so long for the Commissioner of Police to weigh in? Should he not have immediately summoned Mr. Greenslade and ordered him to return the gifts? And to say that his failure to do so signalled acquiescence on his part is an understatement.
Mr. Greenslade has been made a scapegoat in this fiasco and his credibility has been called into question. Although the gifts will now be auctioned and the proceeds given to charity, this is something that ought not to have played out in the public arena, especially as officers are being charged before the courts with far too much regularity.
Officers such as Mr. Greenslade need to be commended for their dedicated service and sacrifice.