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( A Whole Lot Of Nonsense)


Government is punishing innocent children

New immigration rules for students violate the law; Prime Minister Christie has betrayed his promise not to deprive any child of an education


The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association condemns in the strongest possible terms the announcement that children who do not possess student permits by December 2015 will be turned over to the Immigration Department.


Both Prime Minister Christie and Director of Education Lionel Sands affirmed in recent weeks that no child would be barred from the classroom as a result of any new rules, cialis usa malady only for the government to turn around and announce measures that will have precisely the opposite effect. It is yet another promise betrayed by this prime minister.


Though the new rules do not say so in as many words, sildenafil if student permits are only for those who “have a right” to be in The Bahamas, it follows logically that those who cannot show such a right will be denied the permit and thereby access to education. Even were this not the case, purchase the government’s silence on the way forward for children whose status may be unclear will lead to the assumption of disqualification by an increasingly fearful and timid immigrant population. The government is no doubt fully aware of this inevitable effect.


Therefore, the move amounts to an effort to exclude the children of undocumented migrants from the classroom, in direct violation of the Bahamas Constitution, the Education Act and in a manner which represents the fulfillment of the GBHRA’s prediction – that the government would seek to engage in the ethnic cleansing of this society, particularly of any Haitian element.


The policy may not carry the usual connotations of violence associated with this term (though in practice, immigration enforcement in The Bahamas often involves some level of indiscriminate brutality). Nevertheless, the government’s current actions fit the dictionary definition of ethnic cleansing: an attempt to expel or alienate an ethnic minority in an effort to achieve “ethnic homogeneity”.


Any doubt about this was dispelled by recent the comments of Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell, who named as a driving force behind the policy “concern that the cultural identity and integrity of the country is preserved”. This is the basic motto of every extreme and dangerous ultranationalist movement the world has ever known.


Furthermore, the willingness to threaten minors, who themselves have done nothing wrong, with the terrifying prospect of being handed over to law enforcement if they show up to class undocumented, is the height and definition of cowardly and reprehensible behavior.  It is unconscionable to seek to punish innocent children for what their parents may or may not have done.


Lionel Sands can claim all he wants that the intent is not to “remove any children from school”. The director knows very well that any parent who feels their child does not qualify for the new permits will keep them at home rather than risk having their children undergo the trauma of being confronted by armed officers in imposing military-style uniforms. He knows better, and should be ashamed of himself.


The PLP also knows full well that all this policy will achieve in the long run is huge increase in the numbers of uneducated and under-educated persons in this country. It seems that they are content to reap the perceived electoral benefits regardless, perhaps because the social ills likely to result from the rise of yet another unskilled underclass will not be their problem, but rather that of future generations.


For civil servants and veteran educators like Mr. Sands however, politics should not be the driving force for their professional behavior. We urge them to rediscover their conscience and speak out against this travesty before it is too late. Otherwise, history will not remember them kindly

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Meanwhile, the GBHRA does not intend to allow the government to blatantly violate the provisions of the Education Act, which stipulates that all children in The Bahamas must attend school. We call on all right-thinking Bahamians to join us in this pledge. We also invite any parent who feels their child is being discriminated against by this policy to contact the association regarding recourse to legal action.


• Fred Smith, QC, President, Grand Bahama Human Rights Association