Brown to consult on immigration reform
New home affairs minister Walton Brown has pledged a “truly inclusive” consultation period before introducing immigration reform.
Mr Brown said the Immigration Reform Working Group is tasked with producing a report based on the principles that Bermudians come first, while the business sector is treated in a friendly manner that encourages growth. The group will report by the end of October.
That will be followed by a three-month consultation period involving the public, the Opposition and stakeholder groups, before policy and legislation changes are finally proposed.
Brown said in a statement: “We want to give the public a fair amount of time to consider the principles put forward by the working group as well as other issues related to immigration reform inclusive of the work-permit policy.
“The question of immigration reform has been a challenging one, with many distinct groups affected by it. Our intention is to create a truly inclusive and collaborative approach to get the best fit for Bermuda. I look forward to an engaged public on this matter.”
In the statement, Mr Brown announced that he is no longer a member of the working group and has called on the remaining members to take a “principles first” approach.
“All laws should be developed or based on sound principles,” he said. “That is why the creation of such principles must come before any amendments to legislation are made or even put forward.
“The principles I want to see embraced when it comes to immigration reform are ones rooted in a sense of justice for all parties within the context of ‘Bermudians coming first' while also maintaining a framework that will foster continued growth in the business sector, using a friendly and accommodating approach.”
The group, formed in April last year following public anger over the One Bermuda Alliance government's pathways to status proposal, had been tasked with proposing amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956.
In a letter to the group's members this week, Mr Brown stated the terms of reference for the group would be to continue work on their survey to obtain “sound statistics” on mixed-status families.
The members are also tasked with “recommending the principles” of new policies in relation to mixed status families along with, if applicable, additional categories of Permanent Resident certificates or Bermudian status.
“I would like to publicly thank the Immigration Reform Working Group for their participation over the past year,” Mr Brown added. “The group has worked really well together. Their input has been and continues to be invaluable.
“The work to this point will certainly go a long way in accomplishing the reform of the Immigration Act.”
• This article was amended to reflect that Mr Brown advised the Immigration Reform Working Group to obtain sound statistics on mixed-status families, not mixed-race families as previously incorrectly reported