IllegalImmigration1-1.doc - ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN THE...

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ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN THE BAHAMAS Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary 1980 defines “immigration” as the (act) of entering and usually becoming established: especially to come into a country of which one is not a native for permanent residence: to bring in or send as immigrants. Conversely speaking, “emigration” is the (act) of leaving one’s place of abode or country for life or residence elsewhere. “Migration” refers to the (act) of moving from one country, place or locality to another. Currently, The Bahamas faces an illegal Haitian immigrant crisis and a “creolisation” of society that is the source of much anxiety and growing tension between Haitians and Bahamians. Today, in a population of 300,000, it is conservatively estimated that Haitians make up about 60,000 of that number”. The Government of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (GCOB) is presently facing a crisis situation with respect to illegal immigration into The Bahamas. When the United Nations urged countries with high Haitian refugee populations to stop repatriations in June 2011, the highly emotional and contentious issues surrounding The Bahamas’ own immigration challenges were cast into the spotlight. The U.N. argues that the conditions in Haiti continue to be precarious since the January 2010 earthquake. The Bahamas, which temporarily halted repatriations to Haiti following the earthquake, says that if a formal request is made, it will be taken under consideration. While we experience illegal immigration from other nationals from Jamaica, China, United States, Dominican Republic, Cuba and some countries in Africa, it is the illegal Haitian migration that places a heavy burden on the local Bahamian economy.
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Although Jamaicans, Dominicans and the Chinese immigrate illegally to The Bahamas in much smaller numbers, we must broaden our scope of focus as they must not become the forgotten immigrants. However, more than any other group of migrants, Haitians unlawfully entering The Bahamas is a serious social problem that the government of The Bahamas must tackle immediately. Although Bahamians and Haitians maintained an economic relationship, the political ascension of former Haitian president and tyrant Dr. Francois Duvalier led to a mass exodus of Haitians to The Bahamas because many of them were politically oppressed, dreaded being victimized and further, the country’s economy was in tatters. Years of political uncertainty in Haiti since Papa Doc’s rule has led to a mass departure of Haitians, who fled their chaotic, violence ravaged homeland in droves, stowed away aboard rickety boats, sometimes with the assistance of treasonous and unscrupulous Bahamian smugglers. Several years ago, former Governor General Sir Clifford Darling expressed his fear that with the alarming inundation of illegal Haitian immigrants, Haitians would soon take over The Bahamas and could potentially run for electoral office, take over Parliament and run the country. These misgivings are shared by many
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