Symonette: No Apprehension Exercises
Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette yesterday revealed that the government does not intend to resume apprehension exercises of illegals residing in the country at this time.
“We have no intention as we speak today of starting apprehensions,” he said during an interview with reporters at his West Bay Street office. Symonette, who is also the minister of foreign affairs and immigration, said the government’ s thrust is to encourage illegal immigrants to get regularized.
Asked when apprehension exercises would resume, Symonette also declined to relate a timeframe. “We are giving them time to regularize themselves. This is no joke,” he said.
Explaining the purpose of the statement his ministry released a little over a week ago warning illegal immigrants to go home, he said it was sent out to get them to go through the proper channels if they intended to remain in the country.
“It was to start to get Haitian nationals and other nationals to start to come forward and regularize their status rather than to face the consequences that follow,” he said.
Last Sunday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Immigration issued the stern warning via a joint press release.
“Having regard to the recent heightened infringement of Bahamas immigration law, notice is hereby given that with immediate effect, all illegal immigrants are requested to leave The Bahamas voluntarily,” said the statement.
“All persons who are here illegally are in contravention of the laws of The Bahamas, are advised to return to their country of origin or be subject to apprehension and deportation. Persons who are found to be in The Bahamas illegally will be repatriated forthwith.”
The government’s statement came just days after U.S. officials revealed that their partnership with local authorities has helped repatriate 832 illegal Haitian migrants in recent weeks.
Since the beginning of the year, the Bahamas government has repatriated about 1,000 illegal immigrants, most of whom were captured at sea.
The Department of Immigration has also done some apprehension exercises on various Family Islands.
By KRYSTEL ROLLE