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Bahamas gov't defends policy of spot checks on migrants

Published: Sunday December 15, 2013 | 10:51 am Comments 0

NASSAU, Bahamas, Dec 15, CMC – The Bahamas government says it will continue to pursue “spot checks” and denied it is engaged in any profiling of people in the country.

Immigration and Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell has dismissed suggestions that the Perry Christie government has singled out certain immigrants as part of the profiling policy of its administration.

He while there is “no policy on profiling” any person with information such as “a specific name or names and complaint or complaints about profiling and the violation of civil liberties, then he should bring them to the attention of the Director of Immigration”.

Mitchell said that the constitutional standard “is clear that there must be reasonable suspicion of violating immigration laws.

“It is the policy of the Department of Immigration to be sensitive to the civil liberties implications of their work. That said, immigration is a law enforcement exercise and is a blunt instrument. Further, illegal immigrants are assimilated into the general Bahamian population.”

He said the public was previously advised that they had to be mindful of the possible civil liberties implications of that when demanding aggressive enforcement.

“The idea of a national identity card has been mooted. The idea of making birth certificates more secure by requiring footprints of newborns is also mooted,” he said, noting that the “spot Check” conducted by the authorities on December 11 had resulted in the arrest of 105 people and a significant amount of outstanding fees collected.

In addition he said 83 people were committed to the detention centre.

“Of that number, there were six Venezuelans and nine Ecuadorians. Further, there were two Peruvian females, six Jamaican males, two Jamaican females, 54 Haitian males and two Haitian females.

“ Clearly spot checks are effective and will continue. We must get a handle on this burgeoning problem.
The Department of Immigration is committed to ensuring that it protects the borders and the territorial integrity of The Bahamas within the law,” Mitchell added.

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