The Minister of Immigration and Foreign Affairs, The Hon. Fred Mitchell, met with the Hope Town District Council on September 10, 2012. His focus was two-fold, to get Council’s assistance on controlling illegal immigrants and to announce in general terms Immigration’s thrust to apprehend undocumented persons.
Acknowledging the perception of undocumented persons in the Hope Town district, Immigration is looking to rent a two-bedroom apartment to house two Immigration officers to be assigned to Elbow Cay.
Unveiling another tactic, Mr. Mitchell said there will be on-site efforts to check on the status of employees of contractors and other businesses to ensure all workers are either Bahamian or properly documented. The present system provides for fines for those caught with undocumented workers. Reference was also made about second homeowners employing gardeners and providing housing for them.
It was felt by Council members that immigrants often choose Elbow Cay as their first landfall on leaving Haiti as they can then move and integrate one-by-one into the larger shanty settlements on Abaco proper.
Lending support to this theory was the 32-foot sailboat ‘Déjà vu’ found inside North Bar Channel at dusk on September 8 with 78 Haitians on board. The boat was towed into Marsh Harbour with those on board sent to Nassau for processing.
Other than to say the public should begin to see results within a month or two, specific details on Immigration’s plans were not given.