A new book, authored by Haitian-American anthropologist, Bertin Louis, "My Soul is in Haiti: Protestantism in the Haitian Diaspora of the Bahamas", investigates how migratory Haitians of Protestant faith differentiate themselves from the rest of the Diaspora in the Bahamas.
According to Louis's analysis the Haitian Protestants in the Bahamas make a connection between being good Christians with being good Haitian citizens. He also points out Haitian migrants arriving in the Bahamas are usually Protestants beforehand, and it could be assumed can easily assimilate.
Louis, who spoke with 53 Haitian Protestants at length in the Bahamas and collected information on them as a group from 2005â€'2012 discovered they dress in a particular way, some would say of a bygone era, and display more formal behaviors to demonstrate how an orthodox Christian should conduct themselves.
Thieves who ransacked the Haitian Embassy in Nassau, Bahamas were not attempting to make off with documents of a confidential nature or any passports according to Haitian Ambassador, Antonio Rodrigue. What they were apparently after were two safes that held an un-revealed sum of money.
The thieves targeted the building, which is on Shirley Street, on a Sunday night, well into the hours of the next morning and ransacked all the drawers, but they only walked away with the two safes, leaving behind all the documents and computers. The break-in was discovered the next morning when normal work began at around 8 a.m., and the authorities were informed.
Ambassador Rodrigue said the robbery was likely part of a spate of illegal activity that has been taking place recently in the city. Just weeks ago, the Department of Immigration was also broken into. At that building, security bars were pried open and access was gained to the building, leading to the theft of personal items of the Department's employees and electronics. In this incident, those items that had been locked away safely had not been stolen.
Following closely in the footsteps of the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas recently issued a new immigration policy that would make criminals of hundreds of Haitians who live and work in their country. As a result of this decision, activists have mobilized and joined voices in protest of the new regime.
The Bahamian government followed up their new ruling by performing immigration raids throughout the New Providence area, resulting in the apprehension of over 70 people, a number which is said to include an un-told amount of children. This news has sparked great controversy, seeing as some of these persons were in the process of being naturalized, and some of the children were born in the country, though their parents were illegal residents.
According to U.S. anthropology professor Bertin Louis, the new policy on immigration that's to be effected by the Government of Bahamas from November 1. 2014, is clearly 'xenophobic' because it does not give any opportunity to claim asylum. Under the new immigration laws, the Government of The Bahamas will no longer accept any application of work visas from persons living in Bahamas illegally. In the middle of September, Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Frederick Mitchell has said that persons without any legal status will not be permitted to work in Bahamas anymore and those intending to do so will be will be arrested, charged and deported. Any foreigner living in the Bahamas must have a valid passport of own home country. The children of the immigrants (with population around 370,000), if can confirm their legal status of residence, will be allowed to live, attend schools, and work in the islands.
Bahamian authorities are about to take a zero tolerance stance with their new immigration restrictions. Following a string of arrests spanning from August 19, 2014 to as recently as September 17, the government of the Bahamas is considering changes that will greatly impact the urge many Haitians have to flee to the more prosperous country.
The numbers are uncertain, but it was estimated in 2009 that there were about 50,000 illegal Haitian settlers in the Bahamas. Attempting the address that, the Bahamian Government may adapt measures that will make it harder for migrant workers to settle there. One new rule, which went into immediate effect, was that work permits will no longer be issued to those with an illegal status in the country. An illegal who applies for one will also be arrested and deported. Other measures being considered are a permanent ban on the bestowing of legal status to anyone who has ever been deported from the country and additional fees for any Haitians seeking permits to work in the Bahamas. They may also be required to make an in-person application at the Bahamas Embassy in Haiti. The possible changes have been presented to the Haitian ambassador in the Bahamas, and will be discussed with other Haitian officials.
Daphne Campbell, a Florida politician, saw much support for her recent call to international businesses and tourists to boycott the Bahamas until they have repealed their new, highly controversial law that aims, as she describes it, to discriminate against Haitian children. Her latest such supporter is president of the Haitian Bahamian community Jetta Baptiste, who admitted to being in agreement with the proposed boycott one thousand percent.
While voicing her support for the boycott and the one-week ultimatum issued by the politician, Baptiste also spoke about the frustration of the community which is once again being cruelly handled by the Bahamas, as well as others of Haiti's neighbors. Baptiste argues that Haitians living in the Bahamas are being tugged into the political game of the government of the Bahamas, in which illegal migration is a huge topic. She puts forward that Florida will not long be the only State that will join in the boycott as Campbell, a Democratic Member of the House of Representatives for Florida, has written to the U.S. government about the situation, and she also has the backing of elected Cuban officials who have appealed to Florida's Governor Rick Scott and President Barack Obama.
New Bahamas enforcement policy illegal, immoral, said Fred Smith, (GBHRA)
The Perry Christie Bahamian government's new immigration policy is a barely concealed form of ethnic cleansing according to the Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association (GBHRA). It consists of a non-discriminatory process, in which immigration authorities conduct dragnets in the middle of the night in communities, in which large populations of Haitian descendents live. No effort is made to separate the innocent from the guilty until later, a blatant violation of human rights. GBHRA President Fred Smith charged the cattle-herding policy ". . . is unconstitutional . . . (and) they are breeding 'Haitian hatred', racism, and discrimination."
Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell dodged responsibility for his ministry's hand in the mass round-ups. Politics should play no part in this, nor should any polarization between the government and civil rights organizations exist, he added. The bottom line, he stressed, is the new immigration policy must be enforced to protect the borders.
Human Rights Abuses Unnecessary to Enforce Immigration Law in the Bahamas
The Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association (GBHRA) has called the government of The Bahamas (GOB) new immigration policy illegal and immoral, formulated ". . . to strike fear into the Haitian-Bahamian population." Immigration officials are going into neighborhoods in the middle of the night where large communities of Haitians live, and indiscriminately hauling them off to detention centers. Only after they have been detained do officials check to see if immigrants are illegal or not. According to GBHRA President Fred Smith such treatment is a blatant transgression of a basic tenet of law: people are innocent until proven guilty.
To tackle the problem of stopping illegal migration from Haiti to The Bahamas, the Haitian and Bahamian governments met to discuss solutions. Fred Mitchell, U.S. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration (FAI), and his representatives attended the bi-lateral meeting as observers. The dual purpose of the meeting was to reduce numbers of illegal immigrants traveling to The Bahamas and encourage more trade.
One strategy the two governments decided to put into practice is to implement a citizens' awareness program in northern Haiti. It will inform people, if they are discovered engaging in human trafficking activities, they will be arrested and returned to Haiti. To strengthen the two governments' resolve in reducing illegal migration from Haiti to The Bahamas, they are ramping up their military intelligence capacity.
Haiti's advocates aren't exactly a dime a dozen. It is a sorry state that radio-show host, Bahamian, Louby Georges spoke about recently, among other sentiments such as his country acting as a 'big brother' to Haiti. The occasion was the screening of the short-film 'Passage', by Kareem Mortimer at the National Art Gallery of the Caribbean's most prosperous country.
During his address to the audience as part of a panel discussion after the viewing, Georges used his considerable platform as host of the popular Kreyol Connection, to plead the cause of Haiti which he says, has been forgotten by the rest of the world, never mind the attention it gained post the 2010 earthquake.
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