Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Mass protest over government's initiative to reform Bermuda’s immigration laws.

Published:Thursday | March 17, 2016 | 3:00 AMCMC

BERMUDA

HAMILTON, (CMC):

Following the People's Campaign's call for "an island-wide withdrawal of labour", there have been demonstrations and service interruptions since Friday. Crowds of people gathered again yesterday, which resulted in disruption to public services. The people have been protesting over a government initiative to reform Bermuda's immigration laws.

The actual handling of the the Bill in Parliament has been delayed, Monday's session was cancelled as MPs could not enter the building, after demonstrators formed a 'human wall' around the entire building serving to block MPs from entering the House, and yesterday's session was cancelled.

On Monday, protesters formed a ring around the House of Assembly in a nine-hour blockade that prevented legislators from entering the building to debate the controversial Pathways to Status legislation.

Protesters, who began their action on Friday, want the legislation withdrawn.

Government legislator, Leah Scott, has urged her One Bermuda Alliance (OBA) party colleagues not to push ahead with Pathways to Status in its existing form, saying the proposals "may well be the right thing to do, but it is not right at this time".

Transportation officials confirmed that bus and ferry services would continue to be suspended until further notice.

Scott, who said last month she believed her party should consider a "staggered approach" to immigration reform, sent recent correspondence to Premier Michael Dunkley, Attorney-General Trevor Moniz, Fahy, and his junior minister, Sylvan Richards.

The government proposals would lead to Bermudian status (citizenship) being granted to permanent resident certificate holders who have lived on the island for 20 years.

Among Scott's concerns are the possibility of creating an "en masse OBA voting bloc" and jeopardising job security for future generations.

"I have said repeatedly that if we were 10 years back and the economy was awash with cash, people were working, and houses were rented, Pathways would not be an issue," she wrote.

"But we are here in an economy that is barely recovering and the country is in turmoil. People don't have jobs, those who do have jobs, don't have job security. People can't pay their bills, can't pay rent, (they) are losing their houses. So everything that we do that seems to be 'anti' Bermudian is magnified."

(Additional reports came from the Bernews.com website)