COMMUNICATION BY FRED MITCHELL MP MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND IMMIGRATION House of Assembly Nassau Immigration Matters
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House of Assembly Nassau
22 April 2015
I wanted to inform the public that we have been dealing with a deluge of illegal migrants who have breached our borders over the past week. We are working to expedite their immediate return to Haiti. Last week ten people were intercepted at Inagua and are being processed for return.
In Bimini late Wednesday night 15th April 168 people were intercepted by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. They were brought to Nassau on Friday 17th April by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force HMBS Durward Knowles.
168 people: 103 males 28 females 37 children. The children housed in a safe house not in the detention centre. Some of them were babes in arms.
On Monday 20th April 41 people were repatriated to Haiti in two flights at cost of 16,000 dollars
Two additional flights are being arranged. We have to use a foreign carrier because the Bahamasair jet does not have the nav aids to fly into Port Au Prince without a waiver from the civil aviation authorities. Those flights will take 145 people each at a cost of $67,265. This excludes the cost of housing 16 officers in Miami and their return transport to Nassau.
At the moment there are 318 people in the detention centre. 285 are Haitian. There are 30 in the safe house. 20 are children and 10 adults.
I bring this to the attention of the country to show that this continues to be a vexing, consistent and expensive issue.
Instead of spending that money on docks, on roads, on airports, we have to spend it trying to send illegal migrants back home. We are trying to break the back of a continuing criminal enterprise. Increasingly there are reports of small boast leaving his country taking illegal migrants into the United States. This then is a national security issue. This country should not be staging ground for illegal activity.
We continue to work with all Border States with a view to stopping this illegal migration and bringing it under some control.
I want the people of Eleuthera to know that the request about the situation in Eleuthera is known to us and as soon as resources permit we intend to move to bring some relief to the situation.