Minister Fred Mitchell’s ongoing display of pettiness and immaturity over the immigration controversy generated by his own rash actions, has reached the point where it threatens to damage the country’s international reputation.
A meeting was organized and confirmed for this afternoon between high level Immigration officials, members of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA), including myself; and the visiting Haitian American Grassroots Coalition (HAGC), an organization that is very well known and respected in the United States, and with which President Barack Obama has consulted over immigration issues.
Suddenly, the night before the meeting confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was set to take place, the GBHRA received a message to the effect that there would be no meeting unless I first withdrew unspecified “untrue statements” concerning the activities of the Department of Immigration (see document). The pronouncement was, predictably, according to “the directive of the Ministry”.
The accusation of falsity on my part is itself too puerile to grace with a response. I stand by everything I said and will withdraw nothing. If Mitchell would like to test the veracity of my claims, he need only “man-up” and accept my challenge for a public debate on immigration issues.
As for the silly ultimatum itself, I cannot see what the minister can hope to achieve, aside from embarrassing The Bahamas in front of high profile international guests. It is my contention that the current immigration policy, launched on November 1 2014, is an outgrowth of Mitchell’s own irrational, ill-conceived views on migration. In behaving like an irrational child, he only proves my point.
I would remind the minister that his personal feelings about me and what I have said about his immigration policy are not what this is all about. This is not an arena for small-minded games. The fundamental rights of individuals who reside in this country, the rule of law and our international reputation are all at stake.
Is this the image of us as a country we want to portray to international entities and organizations – of a spoiled baby that can’t get its way, throwing toys out of the crib?
Surely the time has come where Prime Minister Christie must step in and inject some maturity and gravitas into the situation, before his minster causes us any further embarrassment.
By Fred Smith, QC – president, Grand Bahama Human Rights Association
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