NASSAU, The Bahamas – The Bahamas Immigration Department was urged to redefine its goals and objectives in order to meet the growing demands caused by illegal migrants. The call came from Acting Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration the Hon. Brent Symonette as he delivered the keynote address at the Bahamas Immigration Graduation Ceremony of Class 2010 Squad A on Friday, August 6, 2010.
Mr. Symonette reminded the 28 new officers of the department’s mission statement which is: “To regulate the movement of people across the borders of The Bahamas so as to ensure the security, facilitate economic advancement and promote the harmonious social development of The Bahamas through the collaborative efforts of responsible government and non-government agencies both nationally and internationally”.
The role of the Immigration Officer in 2010 must be central to the department’s mission statement, he said.
“Added in that mix is the global threat of terrorism. It is imperative for this critical agency to redefine its goals and objectives from time-to-time. You must be responsive to the demands of our people while embracing the growing challenges globally.”
The new officers were also advised that The Bahamas’ geographical location makes it a prime target for illegal entry. In this vein, they will be required to work with other law enforcement namely, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, and the Bahamas Customs Department to ensure safety and security of citizens and residents.
“You have been made aware of the interchangeable roles expected between yourselves and the Customs Department. It is the Government’s intention to cause both agencies to cross pollinate their roles in our far flung cays, so as to ensure maximum use of manpower, efficiency and services,” Mr. Symonette said.
He said that the timing of the new entry could not have been better; it’s the first entry since 2007 and takes place at a time when: The Mission Statement of the department is being reviewed to encompass the expanded role and functions of the department;
Illegal migrants continue to enter Bahamian borders; Greater vigilance and additional personnel required at the main borders; and, The department is placing greater emphasis on customer service.
Mr. Symonette also implored the graduates to exercise their duties without fear or favour, and to see themselves as “ambassadors” for this country especially at port of entries. And whether they are posted at any of the international airports around the country, the highest level of customer and efficiency is expected.
“There is no room for clock watchers, poor attitude and slack performers. It should not take much of you to smile with the customer, always be courteous and polite,” he said.
“Always maintain your integrity and professionalism as there is absolutely no room for corruption, bribes, shady deals or stealing.”
The Government is committed to involving the participating of immigration officers in other areas; a new initiative being the implementation of the E-ID System, he added. The new officers eight weeks training incorporated the Immigration Act, The Bahamas Constitution, the Customs Act, Immigration Policy and Procedures, General Orders, and various scenarios and physical fitness.
A member of the new officers holds a law degree, another a degree in Criminal Justice, one with a degree in Mass Communications and Journalism, in Business and Finance, and Computer studies. Following a Drill Display accompanied by the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band, the new immigration officers were honoured with several awards.
The first being the Instructor’s Award presented to Tishana Rolle; the Director’s Award presented to Daniella Knowles and the Excellence Award went to Charles Walkine. Senior Immigration Officers Rudolph Ferguson and Florinda Black-Farrington were presented with “Special Awards” as trainers.
By Lindsay Thompson
Bahamas Information Services