In an about-face that has some confused, Deputy Prime Minister Brent Symonette yesterday reversed his comments from a day earlier regarding apprehension exercises of undocumented migrants.
On Wednesday, Symonette, who is also the minister responsible for immigration, told the media, “we have no intention as we speak today of starting apprehensions.”
By Thursday, he had changed his stance and said that apprehensions will resume on September 1.
Yesterday’s comment appears to be more in line with a statement which Symonette released earlier in the month which said:
“All persons who are here illegally are in contravention of the laws of The Bahamas, and are advised to return to their country of origin or be subject to apprehension and deportation.”
In the interest of allowing illegal migrants who wished to leave immediately and voluntarily, to do so, Symonette said the government allowed for a brief period of voluntary repatriation.
“That period will end on 31 August, 2010,” Symonette said Thursday.
“Apprehension exercises will resume as of September 1, 2010, consistent with my statement of August 16 relative to the resumption of such exercises.
“My statement of August 16 reminded the general public of the government’s longstanding policy with respect to illegal entry into The Bahamas. I also wish to recall the humanitarian decision of The Bahamas in suspending for a short period both apprehension and repatriation exercises following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in January of this year.”
Following the earthquake in January that devastated Haiti’s capital city, the Bahamas government immediately announced a hold on apprehensions and repatriations.
The DPM noted that the government has already resumed repatriation exercises for illegal immigrants from Haiti.
772 Haitian and 183 Jamaican nationals have been repatriated over the past six months, he noted.
“The resumption of both apprehension and repatriation exercises are critical elements in the government’s comprehensive immigration policy,” the DPM’s statement said.
“This includes deterring illegal immigrants, irrespective of country of origin, from seeking to enter The Bahamas illegally.”