Caines pulls out of tabling immigration reform
Legislation designed to ease the plight of mixed-status families will not be tabled in the House of Assembly today as expected, the Minister of National Security announced yesterday.
Wayne Caines said that some issues were unresolved and that he had requested for the Bill to go before Parliament in September instead.
He explained: “After a series of meetings with the parliamentary drafters and the government policy team, there are important elements that remain unresolved, and it would be irresponsible to forward legislation that does not fully meet the needs of Bermuda.
“We simply need more time to get it right, and I have asked for the mixed-status Bill to be tabled in September.”
The minister said on Tuesday that the Government’s “aim” was to table amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 today, which is expected to be the last House session before the summer break starts.
Mr Caines indicated earlier this month that a bipartisan plan for immigration reform would be tabled on July 12.
He assured the public then that the issue was “being worked on as a priority”.
The Progressive Labour Party minister said yesterday: “For over 20 years, governments have worked unsuccessfully to bring about immigration reform.
“The aforementioned fact demonstrates the importance and monumental challenge drafting this legislation presents.
“In the Government’s Speech from the Throne, we pledged to implement comprehensive immigration reform. This included, but was not limited to, regularising the issues surrounding mixed-status families in Bermuda.
“To that end, we must ensure that the draft legislation provides the justice mixed-status families deserve, while ensuring Bermudians have a place of primacy in their homeland.
“Achieving the right balance is critical, and it is my responsibility to ensure we get it right the first time.”
He added: “It is for this reason, and with great regret, I must inform the public that the Mixed Status Bill will not be tabled tomorrow in the House of Assembly as planned.”
Parliamentary business today is expected to include details on investigations into Ewart Brown, a former Premier, in response to questions from Derrick Burgess, the Deputy Speaker.
Some information about costs, which have run to almost $5 million, were revealed at a sitting of the House two weeks ago.
But answers from Mr Caines were cut short when a question period ran out of time.
A police inquiry was launched in 2011 in the wake of allegations of corruption against Dr Brown.
It was followed by a civil lawsuit by the Government against Lahey Clinic, in which Dr Brown was accused of profiting from unnecessary diagnostic tests at his medical clinics.
All allegations have been denied by Dr Brown, who has not been charged with any offence.
MPs were expected to hear today the legal costs and firms used for the Lahey suit, as well as the costs for a former consultant for Trevor Moniz, then the Attorney-General.
Lovitta Foggo, the labour and community affairs minister, is to table legislation extending maternity leave from eight weeks to 13 weeks for women, and introducing paternity leave for fathers.
A marathon afternoon session is expected, with House orders to be cleared before legislators break.
The debate will include increasing the pensions benefits for Bermuda’s war veterans, as well as a Bill allowing for the prosecution of residents who commit sexual assaults against Bermudian-based children overseas.
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