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Fahy defends Immigration officers

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy stands by his Immigration officers in the case of a grandmother who was literally barred from entering the island.

Commenting on what he termed the “very concerning article” published in this newspaper yesterday, Senator Fahy said it was “extremely disappointing the public officers were named in this way”.

The officer in question, acting compliance officer, Ron-Michel Davis, blocked Anne Robinson's entry into Bermuda, claiming she did not have a return ticket.

Once her daughter purchased a ticket on a later flight to Florida, he insisted that the return ticket had to be to the UK.

Both women argued that regulations stipulate that visitors are only required to have an outward bound ticket “to a country into which the visitor has, at the material time, a right of entry”.

“Nowhere does it say the ticket must be to country of citizenship,” said Ms Robinson's daughter. “They put my 61-year-old mom on a plane with no phone, no money and only an overnight bag. I spent all night … making sure my mom had somewhere to sleep.

“I feel that what Immigration put myself and my mom through in the last week was not only unnecessary but unjust and cruel.”

Now she has filed a complaint with the Minister about the conduct of Immigration officers claiming questions to the Department of Immigration on this matter have been ignored.

A Ministry spokeswoman noted that the Ministry does not comment on individual cases.

In a statement released yesterday, Minister Fahy said: “As Minister I review some decisions that are brought to my attention by Immigration officers. The decisions made [in this case] were on the basis of credible information received and a position taken by a complainant who maintains their stance to this day.

“In fact Immigration policy gives discretion, like in any other jurisdiction, to front line officers to land visitors for durations they believe appropriate. It should also be noted that there is a legislative requirement for visitors to possess a return ticket upon arrival in Bermuda.”

Sen Fahy concluded, “It's important to point out that there is a domestic element to this case into which the Department has been pulled and wrongly made a scapegoat.

“And sadly headlines such as these do a disservice to the public as they are intended to be sensationalist,” he said.

“The Immigration officers were simply doing what they are charged to do and The Royal Gazette has acted in a very shameful manner in naming the Public Officers involved.

“The Department of Immigration performs an important function and our officers assess the risks to local job holders among other issues when landing visitors.

“I am proud of the work that they do and will continue to update policies and have them published in the interests of transparency.”

Meanwhile, Anne Robinson has written to Governor George Fergusson to complain about her “horror” experience at the hands of “ruthless and incompetent” officials.

Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy

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Published October 31, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 30, 2013 at 11:44 pm)

Fahy defends Immigration officers

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