Group Urge Govt To Work On Immigration Reform

April 25, 2018

The “Supporting Fair Immigration Reform” group said they “urge the Government to continue to work on completing comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that it has created within families.”

A spokesperson said, “The individuals behind the ‘Supporting Fair Immigration Reform’ Facebook group and our members have been following UK news about the Windrush Generation.

“This is a group of people who emigrated from Commonwealth countries to the UK from the late 1940s to the 1970s. During this time, they were able to move freely in and out of the UK. These ‘freedom of movement’ rules came to an end eventually, but not before the Immigration Act 1971 allowed indefinite leave to Commonwealth citizens that were already in the UK.

“The biggest problem that the descendants of the Windrush Generation currently face is that they are unable to prove their status as they have no documents. Many were children when they traveled to the UK on their parent’s passports.

“We are pleased with the UK Government’s announcement that the descendants of the Windrush Generation will be granted UK citizenship. We note that their applications will be prioritized, and various other aspects of the application process will be waived for them. We applaud the UK government for the action that they have taken to correct this injustice.

“As we all know, immigration is a very sensitive and serious topic in Bermuda. No one agrees that the current immigration laws are reasonable and sustainable. If we do not find a solution to resolve our immigration problems, Bermuda will eventually face its own Windrush Generation situation on its hands.

“There are currently so many different classes of people in Bermuda. Some have partial rights while others have no rights at all. We have people that were born in or came to Bermuda 20-25 years ago and have absolutely no rights. They are treated as the dependants of a work permit holder. When they come of age, they must either go back to where their parents came from or find somewhere else to live.

“These people grew up in Bermuda. They lived among Bermudians. They are thoroughly embedded Bermudian culture. They are Bermudian in every sense of the word – except when it comes to their rights to call Bermuda home.

“Some of our Bermudian cultures derive from overseas. It is harsh to tell these people ‘go back home’ when this is where they grew up. MP Christopher Famous stated on the April 20th’s evening newscast that it would unfair to send the descendants of the Windrush Generation back to their parent’s homeland which they do not know. He even said the moral thing the UK would do is to provide full citizenship to those people. If we sympathize for those people, why can’t we sympathize for those people who are in the same situation here in Bermuda?

“If we go by the Human Rights Act, The term ‘Bermudian’ is defined as being ‘a person having a connection with Bermuda recognized by the law relating to immigration for the time being in force’. We currently have families where different members have a different immigration status. If nothing is done, immigration will divide families in Bermuda.

“The immigration stories will be exactly like what is happening in the USA as a result of crackdowns ordered by the Trump Administration and ICE. Do we want to be like that? Should we be? Shouldn’t those people with the Bermudian connection be automatically Bermudian?

“In addition to Permanent Resident Certificate holders that have no right to vote, and some who cannot pass any rights on to their children, we have Belongers. In the simplest terms a Belonger is someone that “belongs to Bermuda” and holds a Bermudian passport but who cannot vote. Those who “belong to Bermuda” are Bermudian Status Holders, Naturalized Citizens of the UK Overseas Dependent Territories, Spouses of Bermudians and Children under the age of 18 years whose parents “belong to Bermuda”. Does this sound fair? How can someone who is not Bermudian have a Bermuda passport? Shouldn’t that come with all the rights and privileges of becoming a Bermudian?”

“In a speech made in the House of Assembly on February 26, 2016, Premier David Burt stated, “Let us work together to fix the problems for those who know no other home but Bermuda, but who have no legalized right of permanent abode to what is essentially their home. Let us work together to ensure that we can attract persons to our shores who are willing to invest and bring jobs to Bermuda. Let us work together to ensure that those who have contributed to the betterment of Bermuda can continue to stay in Bermuda to help make our island a better place.”

“We agree wholeheartedly with the need to protect Bermuda for Bermudians. However, as we have always said, this should extend to persons who are thoroughly Bermudian in their hearts and who know no other home than Bermuda, but for whom the law has failed to make provision.

“We once again implore and urge the Government to continue to work on completing comprehensive bipartisan immigration reform to correct the injustices and divisions that it has created within families.”

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