Immigration breach complaints rise in 2019
The number of complaints about alleged immigration breaches since January has already surpassed the total for 2018.
Compliance officers have received 128 reports so far in 2019, compared with 126 overall in the previous year.
The total for 2017 was 150, the Government said yesterday.
Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, highlighted ways that people can inform the Department of Immigration about foreign nationals who are believed to be working in Bermuda illegally.
He reminded the public that a compliance section is responsible for inspecting and investigating potential breaches against immigration law, regulations and policy, including overstays.
The team enforces work-permit conditions and restrictions and controls and monitors the island’s borders and entry points, including the processing of passengers for landing.
Compliance staff manage the Bermuda stop list, monitor visitor extensions, manage deportations and “friendly escorts”, and deal with “wanted persons”.
Of the 128 complaints received this year, the Government said 81 general investigations and 47 civil penalties were under way.
The Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 provides that the Chief Immigration Officer can impose a civil penalty if someone “engages in gainful occupation” either without a work permit or outside the scope of a work permit.
Employers can also be found liable.
Penalties can be as much as $5,000 for a first violation and up to $10,000 for any subsequent violation within seven years of the first.
Mr Caines said yesterday: “We appreciate the sensitivity surrounding the reporting of individuals who are in breach of our immigration laws.
“We also appreciate that many residents may be uncomfortable with the reporting process.
“I can assure the community that calling into our immigration hotline is a completely anonymous process.
“The Department of Immigration relies solely on information provided from the public to enable them to investigate potential breaches and there are several ways to do so.
“Every effort has been made to make this process as convenient, and unobtrusive as possible.”
He added: “We cannot stress enough the need for the public’s involvement in this process.
“We are asking all residents, if you know of an individual or company in violation of an immigration law, please report it.
“We also want to take this opportunity to remind both Bermudians and foreign nationals here illegally that there is zero tolerance for this type of behaviour.
“Persons found engaging in such activity will be prosecuted as these are serious offences, which we will not ignore.”
Complaints can be made anonymously to the Department of Immigration Tip Line at 296-5202.
• Immigrationcomplaints@gov.bm. The Department of Immigration has an investigation request portal at doiapps.gov.bm/immigrationtips/. Information can be provided to a compliance inspector in person or by letter addressed to the Department of Immigration, First Floor Government Administration Building, 30 Parliament Street, Hamilton, Bermuda
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