Mitchell demands emergency amendment to immigration laws

Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman, Senator Fred Mitchell.

PLP Senator Fred Mitchell is calling for The Bahamas Government to make an immediate emergency amendment to the immigration laws following the court-ordered return of Jean Rony Jean-Charles to the country.

Rony was deported last year and his family and legal team including attorney, Fred Smith, QC, have called his deportation unlawful as he was born in The Bahamas.

A landmark court ruling last week ordered his return pending proper documentation. Jean-Charles, however, was arrested and taken into custody by immigration officials when he landed in the country Saturday afternoon. He is expected to appear in court tomorrow (Monday) at 3 p.m.

Mitchell, who served as the Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister under the previous administration, said that Attorney General, Carl Bethel, applied for a stay of the matter, which was granted by Supreme Court Justice Gregory Hilton. Bethel reportedly requested the stay after he learned Jean-Charles was expected to return. Jean Charles’ return to The Bahamas at this time, according to Mitchell, would make the government’s application difficult. The stay therefore made the return unlawful. Mitchell believes the government needs to act now to amend the immigration laws.

“Change the law even as the court is considering it,” Mitchell stressed. “If that is what the judges think, let’s change the laws now. Someone who does not have ‘landed’ status should be withdrawn at will.”

The issue of whether or not deportees can and will be granted immediate return to The Bahamas has raised widespread concern on a national level. Mitchell said the previous administration had attempted to address children born in The Bahamas to foreign nationals through the creation of a Belonger’s Permit, but he said there is a false sense of reality for those who do not want to follow the laws of the land.

“Some people think that a special reservation should be made for a particular nationality,” he said. “What I know is that [our] constitution states that all you have to do is come here lawfully. In the meantime the country has provided a status for anyone born here… Just do it the right way.

“You want to jump over all of that and say you want to get here. It doesn’t work that way.”