By Andre Skeete:
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (JIS) -- Barbados cannot continue to "bury its head in the sand" and ignore the fact that there is a serious problem with undocumented immigrants.
This from Prime Minister, David Thompson, who stressed that Barbados was being presented with many challenges due to increased pressure on its limited resources.
"We don't have the financial resources to do it, we don't have the physical space, we have housing challenges, [and] we have big health issues because of squatting.
"It has created a situation where you have substandard housing in some areas, squatting in water zones in this country... elements of corruption in the public sector have been encouraged, with people seeking to get false identification cards, with persons renting ID cards that don't carry photographs so that children can go and receive benefits in the polyclinic system...we are not going to allow that to happen," he said.
Thompson was speaking during the final Town Hall meeting to discuss the Green Paper on Immigration last evening at the Barbados Workers' Union headquarters, Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St. Michael.
The Prime Minister explained that all Government was seeking to do was to implement a managed migration programme, which would reduce too many decisions being placed at the discretion of a minister, allow persons travelling to Barbados to know what was expected of them or what they are entitled to and the requisite body they would have to report to have any concerns addressed.
He stressed that the idea was not "to chase everybody out" but to find ways to deal with it, taking into account Barbados' financial commitments, its obligations to CARICOM and to international bodies.
Responding to critics who point out that many Barbadians had migrated to the Caribbean and other countries some years ago, the Prime Minister stated the majority of these persons travelled under legal guest worker programmes or other official migrant schemes.
"The vast majority of Barbadians migrated under schemes...the Windrush scheme, many other people went to work in the London transport or to train as nurses. They went under orderly immigration programmes. That is all we are saying is necessary," Thompson contended.
The three hour meeting was attended by newly appointed Parliamentary Secretary with responsibility for Immigration and the Social Partnership, Senator Harry Husbands; Permanent Secretary with responsibility for Immigration, Gilbert Greaves; and Chief Immigration Officer, Erine Griffith.
March 27, 2010