Immigration group calls for action on reform

  • Widespread protests over immigration reform in March 2016 (File photograph)

    Widespread protests over immigration reform in March 2016 (File photograph)

The individuals behind the “Supporting Fair Immigration Reform” Facebook group and our members would like to applaud the Honourable Chief Justice for his decision recently to invalidate a $5,000 fine imposed on Ms Ashley Aguiar for taking unpaid work.

It is surreal that a young woman born in Bermuda and who has lived here for all 22 years of her life would need a work permit to take unpaid, unstructured work in order to get experience. We are confident that Hargun CJ was just applying the law, and the outcome was undoubtedly the right one.

Ms Aguiar’s story shows exactly why Comprehensive Immigration Reform is needed. There is a growing class of people in Bermuda who for all intents and purposes are Bermudian through and through, and who know no other home. Bermuda continues to be one of the only jurisdictions in the world where no possibility for any form of status exists for people born here or who have lived here for their entire lives. This is a tragedy which puts Bermuda in breach of its international legal obligations.

We echo Ms Aguiar’s hope that her experience inspires changes to the immigration laws. Many people like her are already here and have contributed to our society. Many also have immediate Bermudian family members and have grown up as a Bermudian.

Not only is it the right thing to, it is also in Bermuda’s economic self-interest to not lose its long-term residents. As the Fiscal Responsibility Panel stated recently in their 2018 Assessment:

“Reforming immigration practices and policy. A precondition for faster growth is to increase the island’s workforce. It is the only realistic counter to the island’s demographic challenge from a rapidly shrinking and ageing population. Immigrants and returning Bermudians with the right skills will help to create jobs, not displace them.”

The public remain in the dark about what the Government’s plans are. It has been almost three years since legislation was tabled to provide for Pathways to Status. 19 months have passed since the current Government was elected and promised reform. 15 months ago, the Consultative Immigration Reform Working Group submitted their report to the previous Minister. We were also told that 11 months ago, legislation would have been tabled.

The Ministry of Home Affairs had advised in July 2018 that the bipartisan committee were in the final stages of producing recommendations to be included in their document to be reviewed by cabinet. As of today, nothing further has been released to the public about immigration reform. Weeks have turned into months; months into years.

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 exists within many families in Bermuda.

• Press release from “Supporting Fair Immigration Reform”.

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Published Jan 15, 2019 at 10:05 pm (Updated Jan 15, 2019 at 10:05 pm)

Immigration group calls for action on reform

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