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Portuguese club supports immigration reform

Michael Fahy, Minister of Home Affairs

The Vasco da Gama Club and Portuguese Cultural Association has expressed its support for new pathways to Bermudian status.

In a statement released yesterday, club president Miguel Pereria wrote that the controversial changes would give many residents a “basic human right”.

“Not only is this a human rights issue but it is also fair,” he wrote.

“The Portuguese community and other long-term residents have strong roots in Bermuda and these changes will definitely strengthen our Bermuda community and in many cases allow people to call Bermuda ‘home’ for the first time.

“Persons living in Bermuda, who contribute to the financial and social wellbeing of Bermuda and who are valuable members of our society can finally plan for their future and their children’s future. We look to the government to promote collaboration and to find the best solution to this important issue.”

The statement comes after Michael Fahy, the Minister of Home Affairs, announced that Government was seeking to introduce new pathways to both permanent residence certificates and Bermudian status.

The proposed changes would allow those who have lived in Bermuda for 15 years to apply for permanent residency and those who have the permanent residency certificate and have lived on the island for 20 years to seek Bermudian status.

While Senator Fahy said the changes were necessary to bring immigration rules in line with international standards and to deal with the shrinking population, opponents have labelled the move a desperate effort by the One Bermuda Alliance to gain votes noting the historical use of immigration for political gain.

In response to the announcement, a number of members of the public briefly disrupted a sitting of the House of Assembly on Friday, chanting: “No to the OBA immigration reform.”