With the view to curb the ongoing issue of illegal immigration, boat thefts and poaching of local marine resources North Abaco Minister of Parliament Renardo Curry said that he is seeking to have a Royal Bahamas Defence Force station located in Abaco on a permanent basis.
While noting the admirable work of local officers in the Police, Immigration and Fisheries departments he said that “my cry has been to have the Defence Force posted here on a permanent basis, not just on a seasonal basis.”
“It’s a very delicate matter; Abaco has had this problem for many years. We are trying our best to rectify the matter with a progressive and aggressive immigration policy under the Ministry of Immigration and Foreign Affairs and Minister Fred Mitchell,” he said. “His team has done an exceptional job trying to mitigate the surge of illegal immigration.”
He noted however that we still have our challenges with the illegal immigration problem. Mr. Curry indicated that many individuals would prefer to hire these persons and pay them under the table cash; “so a lot of these people are not in the system, and they are not paying national insurance for them; not doing any of that for them.”
He said that the government is trying to address the problem here, including dealing with the employers who are not paying the NIB contribution. “There is the situation that the taxes are not being paid, and that should something happen that there will be another situation there, and then the fact that there are jobs being taken by illegal immigrants which can’t go to Bahamians.”
Mr. Curry noted that the resources for enforcement need to be shared wisely “because when you look at the island that has the most trouble with this ongoing surge, why would you not put the forces here if this is an island that is a troubled area? These are the kinds of questions the Bahamian people are asking and it’s my job to put it to the members of parliament to consider putting the Defence Force here to assist with this problem, and also boat thefts.”
He added that they could also assist in the enforcement of illegal fishing and poaching in the area of Abaco. “We have fisheries officers but we are limited with the resources we have so the Defence Force could help them with protecting our natural resources.”