SFIR critical of delays in immigration reform
Little progress has been made on promised immigration reform, a pressure group has claimed.
A spokeswoman for Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said that group members were concerned about the time it had taken to tackle the problem.
She said that Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, signalled in January that the latest report from the bipartisan Immigration Reform Group would be considered by Cabinet.
The spokeswoman added that Mr Caines had said that key elements of immigration reform would be debated and passed in the House of Assembly by July.
She said: “As of today, we have yet to hear what the Government’s plan is for immigration reform other than looking at the categories of work permits.
“If the minister expects to keep his word and have the key elements passed by the end of this parliamentary session, it should be public knowledge by now of what is expected of immigration reform, especially if there is to be public consultation.
“All that is ever mentioned is that they are in the consultation process.”
The spokeswoman added that consultation had been under way for years.
She added: “In 2016, the first consultation group was put together. Now in 2019, we are still in the consultation process.
“There is only so much consultation that can take place before our leaders need to commit to resolving an issue.
“Endless consultation on the same topic and ideas will become repetitive and contributes nothing to advancing the debate.
“If we do not move on from consultation there will never be a resolution.”
The spokeswoman said that the group had expected the Government to have made “much more progress” on immigration reform given “the activities being planned to commemorate the arrival of Portuguese immigrants”.
She added: “The best way to honour this community is to embrace substantive action on such an important policy file.
“It is surreal that the Government can mark a holiday to celebrate a group of immigrants but fail to expeditiously resolve the issue of divided immigration status within families, which affects that very community so disproportionately.
“This holiday for many Portuguese is seen as a consolation prize when it should be a celebration of their inclusion into our Bermudian community.”
The spokeswoman said: “We once again implore and urge the Government to fulfil its own stated promise of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that exist within many families in Bermuda and to not let this holiday pass without concrete action.”
Mr Caines said last month that changes to legislation to tackle the problem of mixed-status families would be tabled this summer.
He said: “We believe that by the end of this parliamentary session, we will definitely be able to have legislation that will go through the parliamentary process on mixed-status families.”
Mr Caines added that the Government would also be “looking closely at dealing with the belongers issue”.
He said: “We will be looking at the issue, specifically on this occasion, of children that are born to Bermudian parents overseas.”