Immigration Bill just the first step, town hall told – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Immigration Bill just the first step, town hall told

Immigration legislation to be debated next week is only the first step, a town hall meeting was told last night.

Colin Anderson, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, told an audience of about 30 people that the Bill was focused on mixed-status families and the repatriation of Bermudians.

Speaking at a town hall meeting at CedarBridge Academy, Mr Anderson said: “Immigration reform means something different for everybody.

“In some places I talk about immigration reform and they all want to talk about work permits.

“Some people want to talk about status or that all they are interested in is the Job Makers Act.

“It means something different for everyone, and that is part of the challenge.”

He said the changes meant children born overseas to Bermudians “up to two generations” back will be automatically Bermudian. For children born before the legislation, a Bermudian parent would still have to prove they were domiciled in Bermuda, but he said the process would be simpler.

Children from mixed-status families and earlier left without status, would become eligible to qualify through the Bermuda status of brothers or sisters.

The legislation would also create a two-year window for the children of permanent resident's certificate holders to apply for PRC status. Mr Anderson said the window was a temporary solution which would allow the Government two years to tackle the problem of PRC holders.

He said: “The issue is how can we have a situation where PRC holders can pass it on indefinitely?

“This will lead to other problems. People will not want to stay here indefinitely and be happy that they are not Bermudian. That's not sustainable.”

Mr Anderson added: “In the next two years we have to put forward legislation that deals with the issue of PRCs.

“It's a compromise, but some times compromise is not a bad word.”

The legislation, tabled in the House of Assembly last Friday, is expected to be debated on March 20.

The individuals behind the “Supporting Fair Immigration Reform” Facebook group backed the legislation earlier this week.

A spokeswoman for the group said: “The tabling of this Act is a step in the right direction and shows progress for bipartisan immigration reform.

“This Amendment Act will help to regularise families in Bermuda who are divided into different immigration categories.

“These people have ties to Bermuda. They have grown up in Bermuda, paid their taxes and continue to live here, but they can't be in the same immigration category as their parents, as the current immigration laws do not allow them to qualify for Bermudian status or a permanent resident's certificate.”

The spokeswoman added that the Bill was a “small step” and that more work was needed.

She said: “There are much more challenging topics to be discussed.

“We look forward to receiving further updates on how this government will fulfil its own stated promise of comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform.”

Town hall meeting: Colin Anderson, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of National Security, told an audience of about 30 people that the immigration bill was focused on mixed-status families and the repatriation of Bermudians (Owain Johnston-Barnes)

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Published March 13, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated March 13, 2020 at 9:00 am)

Immigration Bill just the first step, town hall told

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