Windrush-style warning for Bermuda
A pressure group has called on the Government to continue its work to reform Bermuda’s immigration laws.
Supporting Fair Immigration Reform warned that the island could face problems similar to those in Britain over the Windrush generation — a group of people who emigrated there after the Second World War and were named after the first ship to arrive from the Caribbean in 1948.
The warning came after the British Government said it would grant citizenship to people who emigrated from Commonwealth countries from the late 1940s to the 1970s.
Migrants and their descendants were faced with deportation this year after they were told they were in Britain illegally because of a lack of paperwork.
A spokesman for Supporting Fair Immigration Reform said: “If we sympathise with those people, why can’t we sympathise with those people who are in the same situation here in Bermuda?
“We currently have families where different members have a different immigration status. If nothing is done, immigration will divide families in Bermuda.”
The group, which has about 2,500 members, added: “We applaud the UK Government for the action that they have taken to correct this injustice.
“As we all know, immigration is a very sensitive and serious topic in Bermuda. No one agrees that the current immigration laws are reasonable and sustainable.
“If we do not find a solution to resolve our immigration problems, Bermuda will eventually have its own Windrush generation situation on its hands.”
It said: “We agree wholeheartedly with the need to protect Bermuda for Bermudians.
“However, as we have always said, this should extend to persons who are thoroughly Bermudian in their hearts and who know no other home than Bermuda, but for whom the law has failed to make provision.
“We once again implore and urge the Government to continue to work on completing comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that it has created within families.”
The group pointed to people who were born in, or came to, Bermuda 20 to 25 years ago but were not allowed to stay when they came of age.
“They are Bermudian in every sense of the word — except when it comes to their rights to call Bermuda home.
“It is harsh to tell these people ‘go back home’ when this is where they grew up.”
The group referred to comments by Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous in ZBM’s evening news on Friday.
Mr Famous said the UK should do the “right thing” and provide British citizenship to those descendants of the Windrush generation.
The group also raised the issue of “belongers” — people who “belong to Bermuda” and hold a Bermudian passport but cannot vote.
“Does this sound fair? How can someone who is not Bermudian have a Bermuda passport? Shouldn’t that come with all the rights and privileges of becoming a Bermudian?”
The Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group was set up to review and propose amendments to the Bermuda Immigration Act in 2016.
The group was created in the wake of protests sparked by the Pathways to Status immigration proposals by the former One Bermuda Alliance government.
The working group released a report in November last year after 18 months of discussion and public consultations designed to help lay out guiding principles for new immigration policies covering mixed-status families, permanent resident’s certificates and Bermuda status.
Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs, was to examine the report alongside a bipartisan committee on immigration reform.
Mr Brown said at the time that he hoped new legislation would be brought to Parliament as early as February.
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