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Advocate backs mixed-status family Bill

Proposed legislation to tackle problems faced by mixed-status families is a step forward, a human rights lawyer has said.

Peter Sanderson, who has represented several people in immigration and human rights cases, said the Government deserved credit for its Bill, “which appears to do exactly what it says on the tin”.

Mr Sanderson added: “It provides flexible options for left-out members of mixed-status families to apply for status or permanent resident's certificates.

“It will also simplify the process for children and grandchildren of [expatriate] Bermudians to obtain status.”

Mr Sanderson said: “Although I anticipate complaints about some of the provisions, as a whole it appears to have been carefully worked out and I hope Government will not delay further.

“You are never going to get everything perfect or make everybody happy and any kinks can be worked out at a later date.”

Mr Sanderson added that the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 2020, tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, would also have to be reviewed.

He said: “The new PRC provisions for family members of PRCs will have a two-year time limit. It is important that this is kept under review to avoid further mixed-status situations arising after the time window closes.”

He added that the problem of children of non-Bermudians who were brought up on the island still had to be tackled.

Mr Sanderson said: “This group, numbering a few hundred, are an integral part of Bermuda's fabric. There was a pathway to status for those children that lapsed in 2008.

“That was more than a decade ago and it is now becoming quite urgent as children are reaching adulthood without any way of getting Bermudian status.”

He added: “Although there are now ways for these children to obtain belonger status, this does not come with voting rights.

“I would urge Government not to delay further with this next piece of the picture.”

He was speaking after the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2020 was tabled in the House of Assembly.

It was designed to help mixed-status families and settle the status of children born overseas to Bermudian parents.

Children born overseas to Bermudians “up to two generations” back would be automatically Bermudian if the amendments are approved.

A Bermudian parent would still have to prove they were domiciled in the country in cases where children were born before the Act became law.

Children from mixed-status families who had been left without status would become eligible to qualify through the Bermuda status of brothers or sisters.

The amendments would also create a two-year “window” to allow children of PRC holders, who were excluded from residency, to obtain PRC status.

The amendments are expected to be debated on March 16.

Wayne Caines, the Minister of National Security, said reforms to deal with “belongers”, such as naturalised British Overseas Territories citizens and the spouses of Bermudians and the status of job-makers were in the pipeline.

Peter Sanderson

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Published March 09, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 09, 2020 at 9:23 am)

Advocate backs mixed-status family Bill

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