Amending immigration laws “utter waste of time”

Amending immigration laws “utter waste of time”
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Senator Fred Mitchell.

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Fred Mitchell suggested Tuesday that Immigration Minister Brent Symonette should focus on amending the law for single Bahamian fathers to obtain the same rights as single Bahamian mothers, instead of focusing on changing the immigration law to appease non-Bahamian citizens.

Responding to Immigration Minister Brent Symonette’s recent remarks on the topic in the House of Assembly (HOA), Mitchell said, “We have not seen the details of what Brent Symonette is talking about. What we know is what he said in the House of Assembly and what has reported in newspapers.”

“Now, what has been highlighted in the public domain is providing permanent residency with the right to work who miss the application deadline for citizenship pass their 18th birthday.

Mitchell – a former immigration minister said, while this administration may use parliamentary time to pass such laws regarding citizenship, he sees the effort as an “utter waste of time”.

He said the minister and the immigration board (the Cabinet), can grant citizenship or permanent residency to those people who are in that position without any need for an amendment to the law.

“We hope they are not proposing to create a new right for people, which becomes a vested right, because it would be difficult for us to support that,” Mitchell said.

“We are not sure they can do that constitutionally in any event. The statute law cannot give a right to citizenship which the constitution does not grant.”

He continued, “The mischief they’re trying to cure is cases where people were born in The Bahamas and lived here all their lives and missed the deadline of their 18th birthday and applied for citizenship.”

According to Mitchell however, the PLP would rely on the general law to grant citizenship to those individuals as a matter of policy.

Mitchell said he hopes this Free National Movement (FNM) government is not proposing to give a general right to get permanent residency.

“That would be difficult for the PLP to support,” he said.