Henfield: Illegal migration is a security threat

Henfield: Illegal migration is a security threat
Minister of Foreign Affairs and North Abaco MP Darren Henfield speaks with Eyewitness News outside the House of Assembly in July 2018. (FILE PHOTO)

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The influx of illegal Haitian migrants to The Bahamas is a decades-old issue that all governments have struggled to effectively address and contain. And as the issue remains rife for many, Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield said uncontrolled immigration is posing a threat to the national security of The Bahamas.

“The unfettered immigration of any people into a small country like ours impacts us on many fronts. We have to invest in security,” said Henfield before heading to Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting.

The foreign affairs minister said migration is an issue that The Bahamas has been grappling with for the past 50 years, but despite this, The Bahamas will not stand by idly and be overtaken by another country.

“Bahamians have been, in my estimation, quite tolerant,” Henfield said.

“We have taken initiatives to curb it [illegal migration] but it cannot be stopped by simple enforcement. There have to be efforts taken at the diplomatic level.

“I heard someone last night on the news say it [illegal migration] is not a security threat, but it is, that is why the issue of illegal migration is such a rife topic all across the globe.

“Everywhere you go people are talking about it because there has to be controlled migration.”

Henfield said despite the illegal migration issues, The Bahamas, on a diplomatic level, still hopes to hold talks with Haitian policymakers.

“To explain to them that the way this is happening is unfair to Bahamians and it has to stop,” Henfield said.

“We will continue to enforce the borders and we will continue to make diplomatic efforts to cause the Haitian government to appreciate this influx and the effect it is having on The Bahamas.”

Henfield said a government does not plan for illegal migration into its territories, thus the Bahamian government will have to find more ways to mitigate the flow of illegals. He said in addition to posing a threat to national security, illegal Haitian migrants are also posing a social threat as they take advantage of the country’s free education and healthcare facilities.

The government, he said, is willing to work with anyone who appreciates the danger that unfettered migration presents to The Bahamas.

“A small country like ours, with less than 400,000 people…to be inundated with uncontrollable numbers of migrants is intolerable,” Henfield said.