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Minister responds to MP’s claim that immigration policy is a failure

Government's immigration policy is a “dismal failure” according to the Opposition Progressive Labour Party.

A statement from Shadow Home Affairs Minister Walter Roban yesterday lambasted the Government for what it said was a policy failure that had left the door open to creating a long-term resident issue in the future.

But Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy responded by saying the Progressive Labour Party had issued a record number of work permits when in Government and that Mr Roban's statement demonstrated ignorance of the workings of the Island's economy.

“The OBA have finally been forced to admit after months of denials, that their approach to immigration is a dismal failure and an embarrassment,” said Mr Roban in the statement.

“The OBA have failed to meet their April deadline for getting our guest workers to sign the declaration document.

“The OBA have failed to protect Bermudians by producing a waiver document of no legal merit. The OBA have failed to create an immigration policy that will protect our people from facing another long term resident issue in the future.”

Government ended the policy which would limit work permit holders' time on the Island, as part of a new work permits policy regime which came into effect on April 1.

But it introduced a document which all guest workers were expected to sign by April 30 stating they were aware Bermuda does not confer rights of permanent residence and the holder has no expectation of such residence.

But in July, Government admitted that less than two thirds of the Island's 6,782 work permit holders had signed the document.

The Opposition party has always maintained that the document had no legal effect and was critical of Government's abolition of the term limits policy in violation of an election promise to suspend it for two years.

“After the OBA broke their term limits promise, we warned them that in their haste to reward their friends they had failed to protect Bermudians,” Mr Roban's press statement continued.

“Today, we have been proven right. This represents not just a failure in the OBA's immigration policy it yet again displays the incompetence of the Attorney General.

“His record of ineptitude, bad advice and poor judgement speaks for itself. With several experienced lawyers sitting in Cabinet, one would expect that someone would have realised the legal ramifications of this decision and stood up for Bermudians. Yet no one in the OBA questioned the intelligence of this decision.”

Last night Senator Fahy issued this statement in response to the Opposition's criticisms.

“Thankfully Bermuda's economy is in the hands of a Government that doesn't view guest workers as the enemy. Mr Roban's statements unfortunately demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of how Bermuda's economy works and he is at variance with even the recent history of his Party in Government which issued more work permits than in any time in Bermuda's history.

“This Government is focused every day on creating opportunities for Bermudians and stimulating an environment in which business feels confident and moves to create jobs. We continue to be encouraged that this Government's policies are creating renewed interest in Bermuda and repairing the crisis of confidence that existed under the previous Administration.

“More curiously is the attack on the Attorney General. I would encourage Mr Roban to speak to his colleagues, some of whom actually read the legal opinions upon which the Government based its decision in relation to term limits. One would think that Mr Roban really wants to see Bermuda fail given the tenor and tone of his remarks.”

The Minister did not answer our questions seeking to know the number of work permit holders who had now signed the declaration document and his response to the charge that the document had no legal standing.

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Published August 29, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated August 28, 2013 at 11:56 pm)

Minister responds to MP’s claim that immigration policy is a failure

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