Expansion to rights to permanent residency passed
The Senate has passed legislation which will allow more long-term residents of the island to obtain permanent residency.
The amendments opened a route to residency for non-Bermudian divorced people and unmarried parents of Bermudian children who have spent more than 15 years on the island.
The legislation will also expand on provisions that allowed Permanent Residents Certificates for children born to second-generation PRC holders who live in Bermuda.
PRCs are available to non-Bermudians who have spent more than 20 years on the island for a $10,000 fee.
Arianna Hodgson of the Progressive Labour Party opened the debate.
She said the changes had broad public support and were in line with the party’s 2020 platform.
John Wight, an independent senator, added the move was “long overdue” and “simply the right thing to do”.
Marcus Jones, an OBA senator, said: “To me, this is a step. We need more. We need progress.”
Mr Jones said the country could not forget the mistakes of the past, but immigrants had made significant contributions to the island.
He highlighted the rising cost of healthcare and said the island needed to boost its population to help control expenses.
Mr Jones added the island had a declining birthrate, had experienced increased emigration and it was clear that immigration reform was necessary.
He said: “We agree with this first step, but we look for more steps forward.”
Michelle Simmons, the Senate vice-president and an independent, said protection of the rights of Bermudians and those of people who immigrated to the island could be difficult.
Ms Simmons added: “It is complicated. I know that some members of the public who reached out to me were expecting to see large scale reform.
“Others who have reached out have said they hoped for no change. How can you reconcile that?”
But Ms Simmons said she thought the Government had struck the right balance and that the legislation was fair.