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Wednesday, October 10, 2012
The frightening issue of illegal immigration in The Bahamas: ... ...There must be a “Zero Tolerance” approach to our illegal immigrant problem here in The Bahamas ...as we may well have the enemy living among us ...in the Bahamian society
Your Say: Tackling Illegal Immigration
By Paul Thompson, Sr
Nassau, The Bahamas
March, 1951 I joined the Royal Bahamas Police Force where I served 30
years and continued my service as a police reserve. I am still connected
to the force and will be eternally grateful for the education and other
was taught by experts from the Bahamas and from Overseas where I had
the opportunity to attend training courses. In this document I wish to
bring to the attention of this nation a very serious security concern,
that is not being given the priority it deserves.
write on the subject of illegal immigration, which is a very sensitive
issue in our Bahamas. It has been a major problem for government for
decades. Public concern has always been over the loss of jobs, the abuse
of our public schools and hospitals by persons, who make no
contribution to government revenue, the vast increase in population, the
increase in crime, cost to government for increased sea patrols,
detention facilities and repatriation. There is another concern, that
ought to be uppermost in our minds – crime and terrorism.
two years ago law-enforcement officers, security directors, public
servants and others attended a week long-seminar on terrorism, that was
hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
The lecturers were experts on the topics discussed. At the end of the
seminar many of us were of the view that all of our Members of
Parliament should have attended the seminar so that they could be
exposed to the lectures on the dangers of terrorism. We were taught that
a terrorist is an individual or group, who are ideologically inspired
to unlawfully use force or violence against persons or property to
further their own political or social objectives. They are trained to
blend in and assimilate to their surroundings. Their acts are well
organised and well planned. They conduct training, surveillance and dry
runs prior to commission of a terrorist act. They like to strike at
governmental and civilian targets in an effort to instil fear. They move
into your country unknown to you, rent apartments in transient areas
and in new developments where persons are unconcerned about their
is important that they arrive in your country unidentified and
undocumented. In our country we have an illegal population of thousands.
Most of these persons arrived here illegally. They are unidentified and
undocumented residents of our country. These person reside and work in
most of our islands. Yet, we do not know who they are. There is no
register, no photograph or fingerprint records. A terrorist attack is
committed when three conditions are met:
a) The individual/group possesses the desire to commit the terrorist attack.
b)The individual/group possesses the ability to commit the terrorist attack.
c) The individual/group is afforded the opportunity to commit the terrorist attack.
cannot control either the terrorist’s desire or ability to commit the
terrorist attack. We can, however, limit his or her opportunity to
commit a terrorist act by remaining diligent and vigilant at our borders
and in identifying criminal behaviour, which must be reported to our
law enforcement agencies immediately. There must be a “Zero Tolerance”
approach to our illegal immigrant problem here as we may well have the
enemy living among us. In the past and in recent years I had the
opportunity to talk to cabinet ministers of both governments
(Pindling-Ingraham-Christie-Ingraham) on the subject of illegal
immigrants. In the following paragraphs are ideas and suggestions on how
to deal with this frightening issue.
Bahamas Immigration Department:
department must be enlarged to have its personnel working around the
clock, in and out of office. Communication equipment, e.g., telephones,
hand radios, etc, must be upgraded. Other law enforcement agencies must
be on call to them for prompt assistance. The Department must have an
Administrative Unit and an Enforcement Unit. Transportation by land, sea
and air must be readily available. Make funds available to the
department to pay for information and to develop a list of informants
here and overseas. Ensure that immigration officers are aware that they
have the same powers of arrests as police officers, in particular when
investigating matters pertaining to illegal immigration. Give them the
power to seize vehicles and boats transporting illegal immigrants. Make
the Detention Centre more secure by heightening the fence to ten feet; a
strong steel cable at the bottom and razor wire at the top; construct
the fences about four feet apart; use trained guard dogs to run between
the fences; instal two-way floodlights on “posts to improve lighting in
the outer perimeter; instal two-way cameras on poles that would record
any activity outside the fences and alert officials. These cameras would
also record any such activity. Cameras to be monitored by personnel
indoors; areas outside the fence must be cleared of all shrubbery to
improve visibility and signs placed outside to prohibit trespassing.
The Government of The Bahamas
Legislation or government approval may be required to enforce the following:
Develop an identification card, with photograph, thumb or forefinger
print full name and proper address, etc, for immigrants, who are born
here. Give them some form of residential status, if they qualify. The ID
card must be carried with them at all times for inspection by
immigration officers. Card to be obtained after a full investigation to
qualify the person to whom it is issued and a fee paid. National
Insurance must be paid by all cardholders. Renewal of the card would be
annual similar to the present work permit. Such cardholders will no
longer have to apply for work permits. The card could be similar in size
to the driver’s licence.
Develop a similar card in a different colour to replace the work
permit. It is to be carried at all times by the worker and must have the
same identifying features.
Government to set criteria for the issue of cards, e.g. no criminal
convictions, etc. There must be a moratorium for the remaining illegal
immigrants to present themselves to be registered in the country.
Employers of such persons, who are desirous of retaining their services
must come forward to make their cases to immigration authorities. Those
immigrants who are accepted will be issued with the cards, that replaces
the work permits. Others here illegally will face deportation.
Legislation or approval will be required from The Bahamas Government to
enforce the following procedures:
All foreign persons seeking driver’s licences or the renewal of their
driver’s licences must present evidence of their status in our country.
(The ID card).
All foreign persons seeking licensing of vehicles or renewals must
present their ID cards. (In the case of persons residing, but not
working here they must present evidence of their status, e.g. passport,
immigration entry permit, etc),
Children of foreigners attending schools here must have their parents
register them at schools at which time the parents are to present
evidence of their immigration status. In cases where the status of the
person is unclear to the school administration the immigration
department must be contact to deal with the matter.
Foreign persons attending our medical institutions for treatment must
produce evidence of their status. (The card). The medical treatment will
not be denied, but medical authorities must inform the immigration
department of the presence of such persons at the institution.
All employers, who engage illegal immigrants must present themselves to
the immigration department with the names and all information about
their employees and make the necessary applications for approvals and
the ID cards.
Landlords must, by law be held responsible for renting premises to
illegal immigrants. The landlords must demand ID cards from their
tenants (the household). Premises must not be rented to illegal
immigrants. Landlords must report any such persons to the immigration
Banks and money transfer firms will only transfer money or do business
with foreign customers, who present evidence of their status. Report any
others to the immigration department.
Immigration authorities must maintain accurate records of visitors from
countries, whose nationals are known to ignore immigration laws and
remain longer than was permitted. Such persons must be sought and
Captains and crews of boats involved in human trafficking must be
prosecuted expeditiously. Prison sentence and fine to be imposed and
seizure of the boat mandatory. Captains and crew of these boats must not
be taken to the detention centre. They must go to the jail.
Eliminate squatting in the so-called “shanty towns” wherever they
exist. Serve written notices on squatters giving them a date to leave
the premises taking their property with them. Immediately after the
expiry date have the police and bulldozers move in.
• Offer cash rewards for information leading to the apprehension of illegal immigrants.
Prosecute all illegal immigrants, who had been previously deported and
have returned to the country illegally. These procedures, if implemented
and enforced would assist immensely in the registration and
identification of unknown persons here.
police and other law enforcement agencies would be able to acquire
vital information in their fight against crime and to protect our
country from terrorist attack. The large number of illegal immigrants
come here from Haiti. Our government must hold top level talks with the
Haitian government and the United States government. Both The Bahamas
and the USA are involved. The agenda should include:
The implementation of new measures to deal with illegal immigrants, eg;
rewards to Haitian nationals, who would give information on human
• Providing adequate cash rewards to such persons.
Solicit support from the Haitian government to use its law enforcement
agencies to apprehend persons involved in human trafficking.
Discuss with the governments of the USA and Haiti the possibility of
establishing joint patrols of the sea lanes outside of Haiti. The
stopping and searching of boats leaving Haiti and the turn around of
those boats carrying human cargo or illegal contraband. It is well known
that many of the Haitian nationals leaving Haiti for The Bahamas are
just in transit to the United States of America.
pray that the government of The Bahamas and all concerned citizens
consider the matters addressed in this article and use their influence
to get something done about this ancient and frightening problem.