Opinion

Two sides to the mixed-status blame game

  • Home Affairs Minister: Wayne Caines (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
  • Guilden Gilbert, Jr, is a Bermuda citizen living in the Bahamas (Photograph supplied)

While I fully understand the issues in Bermuda over mixed-status families and hopefully we will see a resolution provided, there is something that I am not quite understanding.

How is it, even though there are no rights to status or permanent residency attached to those who arrive in Bermuda on a work permit, that the Government of Bermuda is now being blamed for this lack of status or permanent residency?

If one enters a country to work knowing upfront that there is no promise of status or permanent residency, even if one remains in that country for many years and has children, how can they get upset when they are not given status or permanent residency?

Is the country expected to change the laws to accommodate those who knew the laws coming in?

Yes, I feel for the children who were born in Bermuda to these parents and have only known Bermuda as their home, but that was a condition they were placed in by their parents ... not by the state.

When I relocated to the Bahamas in 1997 with my Bahamian wife, the Government had enacted legislation allowing for foreign spouses to hold permanent residency with the right to work.

So I was given permanent residency on entry because of my marital status; we had also been married for six years, so there was stability in the marriage and it was not one of convenience.

Subsequent to my moving here and the Government changing, that law was overturned, meaning that those behind me were not afforded the same rights foreign spouses were afforded spousal work permits, but not automatic permanent residency.

Even though I will never seek citizenship in the Bahamas because I was born a Bermudian and will always be a Bermudian, the fact is in order for me to seek Bahamian citizenship, I would need to renounce my existing citizenship/status.

That will never happen. My point is, there are many like me spouses of Bahamians with permanent residency. Coming in, I knew what the citizenship requirements were, so if I woke up tomorrow wanting Bahamian citizenship, knowing what I know, what place do I have to complain that the laws are unfair?

What place do I have to complain when I knew the situation coming in the door?

Do I believe that something should be done in Bermuda to regularise mixed-status families and persons who have been in Bermuda for decades?

Yes, I do. However, it should also be accepted and recognised that these persons knew the rules when they entered through the door.

Guilden Gilbert is a Bermuda citizen who lives in Nassau, Bahamas