NASSAU, BAHAMAS – An Abaco father-of-two yesterday appealed for the release of his two Bahamas-born children after they were apprehended in an immigration raid.
Inel Paul, 39, said his two sons and their mother were registered evacuees who were staying at a shelter in New Providence in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
Paul, who has been living in The Bahamas for 18 years, said his family evacuated their home in The Mudd, prior to the storm.
Their home and the entire shantytown community was flattened by the monster Category 5 storm.
Paul said the devastation forced him to send his family to Nassau for safety, while he stayed with his employer aiding with recovery and reconstruction efforts.
“It ain’t no good for kids living there, but I said I could handle that,” he told Eyewitness News Online, as he stood across from the gates of the Carmichael Road Detention Centre.
“If I know water somewhere, I could drive and get my water but my kids can’t do that.
“Since the hurricane my family been in the shelter.”
Paul said his sons have already been registered in school in New Providence and were attending school.
He arrived on the island on Tuesday, when he picked up his children and their mother and took them to their cousin’s home in Yellow Elder for a visit.
He said they signed the shelter registration book to note they were leaving and coming back.
But soon after arriving at his cousin’s home, immigration officers came to the door, forced themselves in and requested papers.
Paul said while he holds a work permit, his girlfriend does not have any documentation.
Despite notifying the officers that they were shelter residents, Paul claims the three were still taken.
“I want to know where my kids is,” he said.
“I know my girlfriend don’t have her documents straight, but I have a boy 10-years-old and one six-years-old. I came here from [last night] but they still didn’t bring them there. When I came this morning again, they say they ain’t here. I don’t know where they is.
“My kids born in The Bahamas. Both of them were born in The Bahamas.”
Paul said he was only allowed to speak to his girlfriend on the phone for one minute. In that time, he said she told him that an immigration officer informed her that her name will be placed on the list for deportation.
He maintained his children, who were born in The Bahamas, have rights and should not be deported to a country they don’t know.
“Right now, my problem is I don’t know where they put my family, that concerns me,” Paul added.
“Two boys, they don’t know nothing about in Haiti…I know I’m a Haitian, I’m from Haiti but that country so crazy. Those two kids, they don’t know nothing about that.”
In a plea to authorities, Paul said: “What I want to know is if they could allow me to get my kids or my girlfriend to stay here. It ain’t good sense to send them back home. They kids, how they could handle Haiti?”
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has called on The Bahamas to suspend its immigration enforcement and deportation exercises in the wake of deadly Hurricane Dorian.
Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bocchit Edmond also made a direct appeal to The Bahamas government for a moratorium on repatriations for Haitian migrants impacted by the monster storm.
However, the government has repeatedly stated it will enforce the law.