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Caines to unveil mixed-status legislation

Difficult issue: Wayne Caines will present plans to House (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Legislation designed to ease the plight of mixed-status families could be unveiled on Friday, the national security minister said yesterday.

Wayne Caines added: “This week we aim to table amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 and legislation that centres around mixed-status families.”

However, he said: “Comprehensive immigration reform remains a work in progress.”

The legislation, if tabled, will not be debated on Friday, which is expected to be the last day the House sits before the legislature breaks on July 31.

Mr Caines said this month that the legislation was to be tabled on July 12.

He declined to comment on the reasons for the delay.

Mr Caines also declined to discuss the details of what the legislation would mean for mixed-status families.

The news came after the pace of changes to immigration legislation was questioned.

Sylvan Richards, the shadow home affairs minister, said, if tabled, the proposed legislation would not be debated until the autumn session of the House.

He added: “I am concerned, as are most Bermudians, with the lack of progress thus far with immigration reform.

“Hopefully, the amendments to the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Act 1956 that deal with mixed-status families will be tabled this Friday.”

Mr Richards said: “Every aspect of immigration in Bermuda is ‘controversial’ and minister Caines has a delicate line to walk in that he must reform immigration policies in order to stimulate inward foreign investment into the country while at the same time appeasing the PLP base.

“I do not envy his position.”

Supporting Fair Immigration Reform, a pressure group, in May criticised what it called “endless consultation”.

A spokeswoman said at the time: “There is only so much consultation that can take place before our leaders need to commit to resolving an issue.

“Endless consultation on the same topic and ideas will become repetitive and contributes nothing to advance the debate.

“If we do not move on from consultation, there will never be a resolution.”

Mr Caines said earlier this year that legislation to tackle the issue of mixed-status families would be tabled in the summer.

He added in April: “We believe that by the end of this parliamentary session, we will definitely be able to have legislation that will go through the parliamentary process on mixed-status families.”

Mr Caines said that the Government would also be “looking closely on dealing with the belongers’ issue”.

He added: “We will be looking at the issue, specifically on this occasion, of children that are born to Bermudian parents overseas.

“So, we’ll be looking to pass legislation on those things specifically this parliamentary session.”

UPDATE: This story initially referred to Sylvan Richards as the shadow national security minister, but was amended to describe him as the shadow home affairs minister.