Immigration has backdrop of oppression’
The Minister of National Security told Parliament how he was working to strike a balance between making sure there are opportunities for both Bermudians and businesses to thrive.
Wayne Caines said immigration reform legislation, which was pegged to be tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, “needed some more time”.
The Bill, to ease the plight of mixed-status families, is now expected to go before MPs in September.
Mr Caines said on Friday night: “There are Bermudians that were living abroad that had children and their children do not qualify as Bermudians, that’s what mixed status is about.
“We understand that there are certain, gaps or holes in the legislation, that are allowing people that were born on this soil not to have Bermuda status. We are committed to fixing that.”
He said mixed-status families wanted the Progressive Labour Party government to “make sure that they have the opportunity to thrive in their own country”.
The minister said he understood the demonstrations against immigration reform that were held outside Parliament.
He added that the Government had a responsibility to both preserve a “sacred history”, that included slavery and its abolition, and to “make opportunities for business to thrive in Bermuda”.
Mr Caines said, during the motion to adjourn: “We have to create opportunities for career development for Bermudians within organisations and — when we looked at the legislation this week, it just needed some more time.”
He told the House that his daughter was born in England and the family had to apply for her to secure Bermudian status before her 22nd birthday, in a situation that “became a crisis period”, earlier this year as the minister scrambled to lay his hands on the necessary documents.
Families with mixed status also include those where one parent holds Bermuda status or a Permanent Resident’s Certificate, while a spouse or children do not — despite being born on the island.
Mr Caines explained that, after he announced the postponement of the legislation last Thursday, comments online caused him to reflect on the history of Bermuda, and to take into account Cup Match and immigration in general.
He said the first slaves in Bermuda came in “approximately 1620” and that people were taken from their countries and “ripped” of their culture.
Mr Caines said: “Our native tongue, our language was stripped from us; we were not able to speak it, families were torn asunder.”
He explained that August 1 became the date that freedom was marked in Caribbean countries from a year after the Slavery Abolition Act 1833.
Mr Caines added: “I think it is insane, it’s incompatible, it is oxymoronic for the Governor of the day to be giving the trophy out at Cup Match, not because I don’t believe in the Governor, it is an effigy of absurdity to an event that was created to celebrate the emancipation of slavery. People do not want to hear this part of our history.
“When you are celebrating the emancipation of something, that very connecting rod has to be severed, in order for us to understand the absolute significance of this very holiday, celebrating the emancipation of slavery.”
Mr Caines said that Bermuda was a place “where people now have the opportunity to live, they now have the opportunity to work”.
But he added: “Many Bermudians do not own passports to other jurisdictions. When they think of immigration and immigration reform, they do it against a backdrop of oppression, they do it from the backdrop ... where their history starts at being in a country forcibly as slaves.”
He told the House: “We now waltz in and start talking about the immigration matters, our people cannot look at it how we want them to look at it. And why can they not look at it like that?
“Because they can only process it from the perspective of being disadvantaged, by being taken advantage of, by not having the opportunity to live in a country that was equal, giving equal opportunity to them, and their progeny.”
Mr Caines said he “loved the spirit of Cup Match” because “you’ve got to pick a side”.
He added: “In life, you have to pick a side, the members of the Progressive Labour Party, we have chosen a side and the side that we’ve chosen are the people of Bermuda.”
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