Sweeping changes on tap for Immigration Act

Sweeping changes on tap for Immigration Act
Attorney General Carl Bethel speaks with members of the press outside Cabinet on Tuesday.

Proposed Nationality Bill calls for persons to apply for status or face deportation, jail

NASSAU, BAHAMAS –  Persons born in The Bahamas after July 9th 1973, to parents who were not Bahamian, and failed to apply for citizenship before their 19th birthday, would lose this right and would only have six months to apply for status if the proposed amendments to the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill 2018 are passed.

If these persons fail to apply for citizenship, they may face the risk of being deported or jailed.

The amendment is just one of the proposed changes to the Bill, which is before the public for consultation.

Speaking with reporters outside of cabinet on Tuesday, Attorney General Carl Bethel said the change is required to keep up with recent court rulings.

“The law is silent and the Constitution is silent on what happens, so what we seek to do is provide the legal framework for which the state will have the flexibility and will be able to determine on a case-by- case basis whether a person should be deported or whether other arrangements can be made,” he said.

“It will provide a greater clarity on the circumstances where persons can be returned to their country.”

The new law will also establish a “right of abode” to anyone born in The Bahamas to foreign parents while they are minors, allowing them to legally work and live, up to the time they apply to be citizens and while that application is being processed and/or appealed.

Bethel said the amendments will also bring the country in line with international standards.

Progressive Liberal Party leader Philip Brave Davis said the party is closing in on monitoring the new bill.

“We have not reviewed it yet, but we will be watching to see the changes the government proposes to make,” he said. “We will make recommendations once we have read the proposed changes.”

The Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Bill was drafted by the Law Reform Commission and the bill, which is 123 pages, would repeal the Bahamas Nationality Act and the Immigration Act.