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Crackdown on immigration offenders – Fahy

Michael Fahy

A crackdown on immigration violations has caught more offenders in 2½ years than were prosecuted in the previous 14 years, according to Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs.

Senator Fahy, whose op-ed on immigration appears in today’s edition, said the department was dealing with 87 cases earlier this month with the potential to bring in $1 million in fines.

Getting tough on employers who broke work permit rules was an early pledge after the One Bermuda Alliance took power.

In January 2013, Sen Fahy told The Royal Gazette that employers who broke immigration rules were rarely prosecuted for it.

A promised overhaul of work permit policy included the introduction of a declaration by employers attesting that they had been truthful in their recruitment statements.

In particular, the new administration empowered the chief immigration officer to impose civil penalties on violators: a “ticketable” offence with a fine of up to $5,000 and $10,000 for a second offence.

Fines of up to $25,000 were written into law for those cases that were pursued by the courts. The legislation was approved by the Senate in October 2013, with the new work permit policy coming into effect in April 2014. This week, Sen Fahy said the surge in cases was a direct result of the civil penalty regime.

Saying the enforcement had been better than under the Progressive Labour Party Government — which had been reviewing its work permit and immigration policies before losing the December 2012 election — Sen Fahy added that about $130,000 in penalties had already been meted out.

It was a sharp increase on the figures given to the Senate just two months ago, when the minister said the Department of Immigration had issued $30,000 in fines, with a further 41 cases under investigation.