OBA: immigration changes long overdue
The One Bermuda Alliance said yesterday it was “cautiously optimistic” about proposed immigration changes – but highlighted that they were long overdue.
Jarion Richardson the Shadow Minister of Labour, Home Affairs and Cabinet, said the problem of the shrinking workforce had to be tackled.
He added: “It is heartening to see our governing party relax its alliance with populism, group think and ideology, at least on this topic.
“Our current economic reality no longer allows for shallow thinking about complex topics.”
Mr Richardson also appealed the Government to reconsider the OBA’s controversial Pathways to Status proposals.
He said: “A person with no long-term residential security is a second-class citizen, knows he or she is and cannot reasonably be expected to commit to a place that will not commit to them.
“Treating a person as a second-class citizen hurts our economy, offends our reputation of hospitality, impugns our sense of dignity and respect, and ultimately, deprives our people of opportunities.”
Mr Richardson was speaking after Jason Hayward, the labour minister, warned that more immigration was needed to stop the island from “falling off the fiscal cliff”.
Mr Hayward highlighted several proposed changes, including the creation of an economic investment certificate, which would allow people “to reside in Bermuda while contributing to the economic development of the island”.
He quoted the Government’s Throne Speech pledge to “normalise” the position of long-term residents who “consider Bermuda their home, but cannot call Bermuda home”.
Mr Hayward added the Government also wanted to change policies that required Bermudian parents to prove domicile for children born overseas to make it easier for them to obtain status.
Mr Richardson said Mr Hayward had been honest about the serious financial trouble the island faced and that an “exodus” of work permit holders had contributed to the problem.
But he added: “There have been more than enough reports over the last twenty years saying these issues would come to pass.
“Week-after-week, the Bermuda Sun columnist Larry Burchall wrote on the value of sensible immigration policy and economist Craig Simmons has informed us all of these realities.
“It is heartbreaking to see sensible policy considerations only after we can no longer turn from the economic abyss.”
Mr Richardson said the OBA supported those in the Government who were prepared to tackle “the seminal issue of our time” and that a lot of research on the subject had already been carried out.
He added: “With more than enough committees, research and reports, the governing party has more than enough ideas to implement.
“There are only so many titles we can reuse for commercial immigration after all.
“Specific to the five items to which Minister Hayward spoke, we are aware that there are more substantive policies he can bring to Parliament.”