Gordon-Pamplin attacks immigration decision
Patricia Gordon-Pamplin has taken aim at Walton Brown, accusing the new home affairs minister of making a “political decision” in favour of an expat.
While not identified by name, the statement comes days after the Reverend Nicholas Tweed returned to the pulpit after an immigration dispute.
Mr Brown responded that he was “disinclined” to comment on individual cases, but added: “It is the case, however, that all matters are handled in a manner consistent with the law.
“Notwithstanding the Opposition leader’s use of language some may consider divisive, we remain committed to an inclusive approach to immigration reform and look forward to working with OBA.”
In a statement this evening, the Opposition leader wrote that Mr Brown had started his term on “shaky footing”.
“When speaking of ‘fair’, Mr Brown barely allowed the ink to dry on his appointment before making a political decision in favour of an expat who blatantly misrepresented facts on application forms and the minister expected that a blind eye would be cast over such inconsistencies,” she wrote.
“The minister has lost his moral authority to speak of fairness and Bermudians first, unless to him, the connotation of being fair and to consider Bermudians first means ‘first, after his favourite expat’.
“I note that not too long ago, the department under my instruction revoked a permit for a worker who misrepresented similar details on his application form. It was, in my opinion, fair to refuse that applicant a new permit. Should we encourage double standards?”
Ms Gordon-Pamplin said that while the OBA has committed to working with the Bermuda Government for measures they deem to be in the best interest of Bermuda, she questioned Mr Brown’s approach.
Mr Brown announced on Sunday that the Immigration Reform Working Group would complete its report by the end of October, with a three-month consultation period coming after.
Ms Gordon-Pamplin, however, said that the reform group — which included Mr Brown — had been engaging in public consultation for more than a year with weekly reporting of the group’s progress.
“Is he discounting the numerous town hall meetings and the input by those group members and those who committed to attend as being an exercise in futility?”
She added that she had written to the chairman of the working group last week, thanking the members for their work, wishing them the best as they continue.
Meanwhile, the persons behind the “Supporting Fair Immigration Reform” Facebook group — formerly the “We Support Pathways” Facebook group — said their members were satisfied that Mr Brown was seeking to continue the tasks of the working group, but did have some concerns.
“First, we are concerned about there being yet another consultation period pushing the deadline for reform back yet again,” they said in a statement. “We were supposed to have proposals on mixed-status families and young persons by May 2016.
“This was pushed back to late 2016. Now a proposal is due in late 2017, with legislation unlikely until 2018. Perhaps with a former working group member as minister, this will finally be when policies are pursued.”
The organisation also questioned references in Mr Brown’s statement to a survey to obtain “sound statistics”, asking how this survey was being conducted.
“If the minister is keen to pursue a ‘principles first’ immigration policy, then we would counsel him and the working group to not get caught up in what could be a fruitless exercise to obtain perfect data.
“Certain classes of persons are either deserving of Bermudian status or they are not.
“The group should work from first principles and determine which categories of persons should benefit. Whether it is five people or 500, they are each deserving of their human rights being protected.”
The group reiterated its belief that there should be a pathway to status for those born in Bermuda or arrive at a young age and who lived here their entire lives.
“We once again implore and urge the working group and the Government to consider this vitally needed reform.”
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