Bishop wants cooler heads to prevail on Bahamas immigration issue

Thursday, October 24, 2019

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NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — A senior official of the Anglican Church here says some of the “rhetoric and extreme language” are not helping in dealing with the controversy regarding the presence of illegal migrants in The Bahamas.

Addressing the 116th Synod that ends today, Bishop Laish Boyd said the topic of immigration, while an extremely hot topic worldwide, has been pushed to the forefront of the national agenda due to the passage of Hurricane Dorian last month.

“Some of the rhetoric and extreme language I have heard thus far — those supporting the migrants and those who are not — is extremely provocative, and not helpful to the cause of harmony in our country,” he told the congregation.

The Bahamian Government has defended its decision to deport illegal migrants, mainly Haitians, following the passage of the category five storm on September 1 that killed an estimated 60 people and left millions of dollars in damage on the islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama.

The Geneva-based Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has called on the Hubert Minnis-led Administration to halt the deportations, but Nassau responded by saying “it is unfortunate sometimes that international organisations — with all respect — apply standards to little countries like The Bahamas that they do not enforce in their own countries”.

Bishop Boyd said Bahamians must be careful “what we say and how we say it”, adding “sensitivity must prevail, even if what we say may be right, the time and the manner may not be right”.

He said also that Bahamians must stop saying that Haitians, in particular, “come and take while giving little or nothing to the country”, adding, “this is simply not true.

“Whenever a person works or raises a family, that person adds value to a country, in return for which he/she receives certain things like well-being, goods and services. It is not an exaggeration to say that if we take the Haitian labour out of our country, The Bahamas would be all the poorer because Haitians are contributing in every area you can think of.”

The Bishop said that there were many aspects of the Haitian culture from which Bahamians could learn much, noting that the vast majority of the nationals from the French-speaking Caribbean Community country work extremely hard and do not hang around on the streets begging like so many others do.

“Their work ethic is very good. They have a keen sense of family life and look after their children in the vast majority of cases. They attend PTA meetings, when many of us Bahamians do not; many of their children excel academically because that is a priority in their homes.

“My brothers and sisters, let us be honest and realistic, and let us find ways to live together in peace and harmony as God, who made us all, would have it,” Bishop Boyd said, suggesting that the authorities establish a board or authority “to monitor our handling of this extremely sensitive matter”.

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