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2005-09-15 14:56:44

Peet: Out of Order

Bahamians were not amused by the Minister's 'dress-up' antics.

Imagine our shock and dismay when we saw the Honourable Minister of Labour and Immigration, Vincent Peet decked out in an Immigration Officer's outfit. We describe the clothes he wore as someone else's because we just cannot fathom why the Minister of Labor and Immigration would have a reason to own an Immigration's Officer's uniform.

We were sorely disappointed. Disappointed because we had thought that he did have that 'gravitas' - or high seriousness - which is to be expected of a Cabinet Minister.

Quite frankly, a Minister is ridiculous when he is out of his role. No Minister should don the clothes of any branch of the law enforcement agencies of the country, whether it is Immigration, Customs or Police. This is simply out of order.

But now that the matter involving the Minister is in the past tense; we would hope that he would commit to a zero-tolerance policy for any one else who might wish to pull such a stunt.

We are today constrained to suggest that the good minister should not have allowed himself the unnecessary luxury of being seen to being in impersonation of a public officer.

Minister Peet would, could and should do his colleagues and the Bahamian people a world of good if he would put more of his mind into coming up with relevant labor and immigration laws and policies that actually made sense.

In this regard, we would venture that what passes for policy and what passes for projects are often little more than panicked pandering in reaction to the amplification of ignorance concerning the so-called 'influx' of illegal workers.

We are quite convinced that much of the paranoia about Haitian undocumented migrants stems from and is rooted in a profound ignorance about these people.

Curiously, absolutely no one refutes the fact that The Bahamas, as we know it has been built by successive waves of immigrants, the vast majority of whom are the lineal descendants of African slaves brought in chains to the Americas.

In more recent decades, the Bahamas has been host to a steady stream of workers from the wider Caribbean, inclusive of Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti.

Barring some miracle, these workers will continue to arrive. If we are correct in this surmise, commonsense demands that sensible policies be put in place to deal with this 'fact of life'. The Minister of Labor and Immigration should get real. This he can do by looking seriously at how the country can and should address certain real labor and immigration issues.

Among the real issues is the fact that there is today far too much uncertainty in the current slew of processes and procedures involved in policy concerning immigration matters. As we understand the current protocols, the time from application to approval can sometimes take years; and often seems to be fraught and freighted with red tape and delay.

What is needed today is for the political directorate to remove itself from the day-to-day management of these applications. We believe that the process should become so routinized and transparent that every one who applies should know whether or not they meet specified criteria.

We also learn that persons may apply for permanent residence in any of the following categories provided they satisfy statutory requirements of The Bahamas: as the spouse of a citizen of The Bahamas, and in the case of a male, he must have been married for not less than five years. As an economic applicant; that is, one who seeks to permanently reside in The Bahamas because of: investment (business or home); or has established roots through family ties.

We know too that the Government of the Bahamas has set specific guidelines that allow non-Bahamians to establish permanent residency in The Bahamas. There are two categories of permanent residency: Permanent residency with the right to work and permanent residency without the right to work.

And as we know, one of the criteria for permanent residency is the investment of a minimum of $500,000 in The Bahamas. This investment may take the form of the purchase of real property with a minimum value of $500,000. Non-Bahamians who own property in The Bahamas may apply to the Director of Immigration for an annual homeowner's residence card.

Truth is that these issues are the ones that should be reviewed and revised in order to bring law and reality closer together in matters concerning labor and immigration.

In the ultimate analysis, then, like some other Bahamians who were not amused by the Minister's antics, we seriously wonder if the Honorable Minister really believes that the simulated raid that he was involved in was really anything like the real thing, inclusive of the Minister of Labor and Immigration posing as an Immigration Officer.

Editorial from The Bahama Journal

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