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MP renews call for immigration overhaul

PLP member Walton Brown

The Shadow Minister of Home Affairs has reignited his call for an overhaul of the Island’s immigration legislation.

Speaking at a PLP town hall meeting last night, Walton Brown outlined his vision to amend laws surrounding foreign nationals, specifically those which contrive to disadvantage Bermudians.

“We have called for comprehensive immigration reform, and that call has been purely rejected by the OBA,” Mr Walton told an audience gathered at Francis Patton Primary School, Hamilton Parish.

“Every country in the world has immigration policies which say so many can come in, and so many are entitled to citizenship and permanent residence.

“We have no number. The Government just says, ‘We’ll see who applies’.”

Mr Brown also suggested that the minimum wage be reassessed, specifically in the hospitality industry.

“There are people from places like the Philippines whose situations are so desperate, they’ll come here and work for $10 an hour,” he said. “But it denies Bermudians opportunities, because you’re not just lowering the price, you’re creating a contrived set of circumstances where Bermudians are just not going to apply.

“Our position is that Bermudians should come first in their own country. Who could deny that?

“Employers should be encouraged to hire Bermudians, not create contrived circumstances where Bermudians can be denied opportunities.”

In September, Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, responded firmly to claims that the Bermuda Government was soft on its immigration policies after Mr Brown hosted a public forum to discuss the topic.

“This is a tiny country known for its high standard of living, which would be overwhelmed by people wanting to settle here if we did not have careful, well-thought-out policies and practices in place,” he said.

While Mr Fahy acknowledged the need for “top-to-bottom” immigration reform, he added that the Government was prioritising fixing the economy and getting Bermudians back to work.

“Immigration reform on that kind of scale will have to wait for a bit,” he added.