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Page 1 of 1Total of 6 messages
Posted by:Apr 10th 2006, 08:51:45 pm
Fig Tree News TeamEleuthera and Briland-based Haitians with legal papers illegally detained, win one-way trip to Nassau in their pajamas
Your Tax Dollars At Work

By Candia Dames
More than 100 documented Haitian immigrants who were rounded up by police in Eleuthera early Friday were released by immigration authorities from the Carmichael Road Detention Centre, but government officials had made no provisions for them to be returned to the island where they reside.

These Haitians are shown on a fast ferry on Saturday afternoon, which was bound for North Eleuthera. They were among a group of nearly 200 who were picked up a day earlier and brought to Nassau, but were later released after authorities confirmed they had valid documents. (Photo by Timothy Clarke)

The Bahama Journal confirmed that out of the 193 people arrested by police, 170 of them had to be released because they are in the country legally.

At the Detention Centre on Friday night, many of the immigrants told harrowing tales of how police stormed into their homes during the four o’clock hour, woke them out of their beds and in some cases handcuffed them.

"No questions [were] asked," said one Haitian man, who spoke with The Journal after he and his wife were released.


What angered businesspeople like Spanish Wells native Abner Pinder was that after releasing the nearly 200 Haitians, government officials had made no provisions to transport them back to Eleuthera.

Many of the immigrants who were brought by boat to Nassau were carrying their documents and claimed that police refused to look at them.

Immigration Minister Shane Gibson, who is facing growing questions over what one Eleuthera businessman said has become a major embarrassment for the government, said the reason why the immigrants with papers were still brought to Nassau was because immigration officials are concerned about fraudulent documents.

Minister Gibson explained in an interview with the Bahama Journal on Sunday that a Haitian man was convicted in Miami last week for possessing hundreds of blank Bahamian work permits.

He said the situation raised the red flag and immigration and police officials were taking no chances.

The minister also stressed that what happened in Eleuthera "was not a raid".

"The police were executing search warrants," he said. "They ran into people they thought were here illegally."

Asked whether it was the government’s responsibility to ensure that the more than 100 legal immigrants were transported safely back to Eleuthera, Minister Gibson said he did not know and needed to check the records to determine what had been done in the past.

He confirmed later in the day that the government was responsible for taking the people back to the island where they were picked up from, but could not explain why no one at the Detention Centre knew that on Friday night.

Minister Gibson also said that he was not sure whether provisions had been made by any government agency to take the immigrants back to Eleuthera because he doesn’t get involved on that level.

Asked whether immigration officers were with police during the arrests, Minister Gibson said on Sunday, "I’m not sure if my officers were with police."

The minister, who was at a downtown Nassau dock on Friday afternoon when the immigrants arrived, had praised the effort that resulted in the arrest of the immigrants and vowed that additional exercises will be conducted in the near future as the government continued to crack down on the vexing illegal immigration problem.

Around 7pm Friday, the immigrants, some of whom claimed that they had not been given anything to eat all day, filed into the kitchen area of the Detention Centre where they were served a small dish of mashed potatoes, tuna and corn.

Many of them looked worn out and dejected as they waited to be released.

After 10pm, they were allowed to leave the Detention Centre and boarded buses where they were transported to the Parliament Hotel.

Mr. Pinder and another Spanish Wells businessman, Judson Thompson, made arrangements for the Haitians to spend the night at the hotel, and hired a fast ferry to transport them back to Eleuthera at noon on Saturday.

The group included scores of children who had missed a day of school. Some of the children who had been picked up on Friday were in fact already in school uniforms when the police arrived.

Around 5pm Friday, Beaunenfant Noel, and his wife, who are permanent residents of The Bahamas, were released from the Centre after immigration authorities determined that they indeed did have status.

Around 8pm, they came back to the facility toting a couple buckets of Kentucky Fried Chicken for the other Eleuthera Haitians who were still being processed.

Mr. Noel, who spoke with the Bahama Journal inside the Centre on Friday night, claimed that police were hostile when they arrived at his house early that morning.

He said he pleaded with an officer to allow him to get his permanent residency certificate and claimed that the officer refused, instead handcuffing him.

Mr. Noel has been in The Bahamas since 1979, as was confirmed by immigration authorities.

"They walk to my house 4 o’clock that morning and they just tell me I have to go," he said. "They carry me and they carry my woman and they carry boy who live with me. I tell them I have papers."

Mr. Noel said that he did not know how he would get back to Eleuthera or where he was going to sleep Friday night because he had no money.

"When I try to talk to [the police] he get handcuff and put it on me like this," he said, motioning, "and push me out. They don’t give me chance to get nothing and I come with little short pants on because I was sleeping."

He said his employer called an immigration officer and was able to confirm that he and his wife were in the country legally.

"They don’t look like they look for people who don’t have work permit," Mr. Noel said. "Whoever they find, they just catch. It look like they just want to pick up the people to make boss man see they do their job."

Mr. Noel said he has lived in Spanish Wells for 26 years and has been working at Pinder’s Supermarket for that entire time.

"All the Spanish Wells people know me," he said, adding that Abner Pinder had promised to get some help for him Friday night.

Mr. Pinder was outside the gate of the Detention Centre waiting with Judson Thompson.

Mr. Thompson claimed that a police officer held a gun to his head at the dock in Eleuthera early that morning when he went to find out why immigrants with work permits and other documents had been arrested.

"The police cocked the gun and told me that they’re all going to Nassau no matter what happens," he claimed. "When they cocked the gun I turned around and I said ‘thank you very much.’"

Mr. Thompson said he and Mr. Pinder then came on a fast ferry to Nassau to see if they could get the documented migrants out.

"It’s not right," Mr. Thompson said. "It’s just not right. Police should have checked paperwork and they didn’t."

An obviously angry Mr. Pinder said while he fully supports efforts to rid Bahamian communities of illegal immigrants, the manner in which the Friday exercise was conducted concerned him greatly.

"Somebody should have enough common sense to be able to look at a permit and read, unless they can’t read and write," he said.

"My Haitian had a permit. He’s got it on him right now and they wouldn’t even look at it. Him and his wife and two children they woke up out of their beds 4 o’clock this morning and that’s criminal. Somebody should have to pay for it."

Mr. Pinder, meanwhile, praised the work of immigration officials who were processing the immigrants at the Centre in what he said seemed to be a fair and humane way.

"Thank God for them," he said. "These are people who realize that [the immigrants] are human beings."

While more than 100 Haitians were preparing to leave the Centre Friday night, a handful was being detained in a small holding room because it was determined that they were in the country illegally.

One of them was an old man who told The Bahama Journal he was 85 and had been in the country for 40 years.

The man, who was dressed in a heavy red and black sweater, dark trousers and a weathered blue tam, sat on a red crate in the corner holding onto a tree branch which he used as a cane.

He made small shuffling steps as two young Haitian men helped him to walk across the room. Looking confused, the old man kept asking the Journal news team whether he would be released to go back to Eleuthera.

One Bahamian worker at the Centre said under his breath that it was criminal to bring an old man who was obviously close to death on the boat to Nassau.

The old Haitian man said the whole right side of his body was "dead" and the rest of his body was "in pain".

Also in the room was Marjorie Nordelus, 14, who said the experience that day was "humiliating".

Marjorie was picked up with her two brothers, ages 12 and 16, and her mother, Louisanna, who claimed she has been in the Bahamas since 1989.

The children were born in Freeport and their mother showed the Bahama Journal their Bahamas government-issued travel documents with their U.S. visas. She also carried their Haitian passports.

When Marjorie told an immigration official that her father – who she said was out fishing during the "raid" – had a work permit, the official indicated that it would have been legal to release the children into the custody of any relatives they may have had on New Providence.

But Mrs. Nordelus later told the official that both she and her husband had work permits when they lived in Freeport up to three years ago, but that is no longer the case.

The official said that meant that he had no legal authority to release the children.

Marjorie, who eventually lost her fight to hide her tears, told The Bahama Journal Friday night that her BJC projects were due on Friday and she had exams to study for.

But at the Centre, she had nothing and asked only for help in getting a toothbrush, a bottle of water and a change of clothing.

One immigration officer told the Journal that supplies were low and the immigrants would have to make do.

Sitting on a small cot used by the immigration officer who is over-nighting at the centre, the girl said the prospect of being sent to Haiti scared her.

"I’ve been sitting in here for hours trying to figure out what’s going on and I can’t get any answers," she said. "We’re not criminals. This is not right."

She said she prayed to God that she is not forced to leave the country where she was born to go to a land she has never seen.

Marjorie said she traveled to Nassau from Eleuthera twice before – last year and the year before – to compete in the Young Chefs’ Competition. She said she never thought she would be back on New Providence for a stay at the Detention Centre.

But with both her parents being illegal immigrants, it appeared on Sunday that she and her brothers were poised to leave the country with their mother.

On Sunday, Minister Gibson said the children would have to be sent to Haiti even though they have never been to the country.

Under Bahamian law, they can apply for citizenship when they turn 18 – in Marjorie’s case, that’s four years. If sent to Haiti, it would mean that she would not take her BJC’s or finish high school in the Bahamas.

Minister Gibson reiterated on Sunday that he and his department are determined to aggressively tackle the illegal immigration problem and would follow the law in that regard.

Asked what he planned to do to ensure that legal immigrants do not have to be rounded up and transported to Nassau in the future, he said he had given approval for 10 laptop computers to be purchased so that immigration officers would have direct access to data and be able to determine from anywhere whether an immigrant is legal or illegal.

Mr. Pinder said on Sunday this is something that officials should have been able to do by telephone from Eleuthera on Friday morning instead of transporting the Haitians all the way to Nassau only to release them to fend for themselves.

He said he fully intended to discuss his concerns with government officials.

"This isn’t going to end here," vowed Mr. Pinder on Friday night as a Defence Force officer tightened the chain on the Detention Centre gates.

Inside the facility, several buses were lined up waiting to transport the immigrants away from the Centre where many of them said they had spent a day in hell.
Posted by:Mar 22nd 2006, 10:32:37 am
Fig Tree News TeamMarch 22, 2006 – 00:48
Condoleezza Rice in The Bahamas
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is meeting with CARICOM foreign ministers and also the Bahamas Prime Minister.

NASSAU, Bahamas (Reuters) - The United States and the Caribbean community needed to "close the breach" over Haiti and work to get more international help for the hemisphere's poorest country, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting with CARICOM foreign ministers, hoped to encourage the 14-nation regional bloc to re-engage with Haiti after two years of fractious relations.

Ties between the group and Washington also suffered because of bitterness over the circumstances surrounding the ouster of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who fled into exile in February 2004 faced with an armed revolt and U.S. and French pressure to quit.

CARICOM leaders considered his removal a dangerous precedent for democratically elected governments in the region and asked for a U.N. investigation.

They suspended Haiti but have agreed to reinstate the country after its new government is installed and President-elect Rene Preval is inaugurated, probably in early May.

"It's important for the international community, it's important for Haiti and it's important for us to close the breach over CARICOM and Haiti," said Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.

Rice would talk to CARICOM ministers about their role in Haiti going forward "and how it can work with the international community to address Haiti's development needs," Shannon told reporters traveling with Rice to the Bahamas.

"If our engagement on Haiti is episodic it won't be successful, especially at this point," Shannon said.

U.S. aid to Haiti over the past three years will reach $500 million by the end of 2006.

Shannon acknowledged that ties with CARICOM became somewhat "ragged" after the United States sent troops to Haiti in 2004.

He said it was in Washington's interest "to find a basis on which to get our relations back on a level where it can have the positive impact it's capable of having."
NASSAU, Bahamas (Reuters) - The United States and the Caribbean community needed to "close the breach" over Haiti and work to get more international help for the hemisphere's poorest country, a senior U.S. official said on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, meeting with CARICOM foreign ministers, hoped to encourage the 14-nation regional bloc to re-engage with Haiti after two years of fractious relations.

Ties between the group and Washington also suffered because of bitterness over the circumstances surrounding the ouster of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who fled into exile in February 2004 faced with an armed revolt and U.S. and French pressure to quit.

CARICOM leaders considered his removal a dangerous precedent for democratically elected governments in the region and asked for a U.N. investigation.

They suspended Haiti but have agreed to reinstate the country after its new government is installed and President-elect Rene Preval is inaugurated, probably in early May.

"It's important for the international community, it's important for Haiti and it's important for us to close the breach over CARICOM and Haiti," said Thomas Shannon, assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere.

Rice would talk to CARICOM ministers about their role in Haiti going forward "and how it can work with the international community to address Haiti's development needs," Shannon told reporters traveling with Rice to the Bahamas.

"If our engagement on Haiti is episodic it won't be successful, especially at this point," Shannon said.

U.S. aid to Haiti over the past three years will reach $500 million by the end of 2006.

Shannon acknowledged that ties with CARICOM became somewhat "ragged" after the United States sent troops to Haiti in 2004.

He said it was in Washington's interest "to find a basis on which to get our relations back on a level where it can have the positive impact it's capable of having."

By Patricia Wilson, Reuters
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=1752704
Posted by:Mar 21st 2006, 07:41:57 pm
KimberlyI don't know what to tell you ... Haitians have been emigrating to the Bahamas for hundreds of years, and have traditionally started doing menial jobs that Bahamians weren't interested in. Years later, Haitians are very much part of the middle class in the Bahamas.

If a Bahamian is willing and able to take on any job whatsoever, and commit to being on time and thorough and honest, he or she shouldn't find any difficulty in getting hired by local businesses, other Bahamians or expat second homeowners. Since we're talking about landscaping here, there are many Bahamians with solid contracts working on the mainland, and they're being paid what they're worth. Given that Haitians have long cornered the gardening market on Harbour Island, though, it may take a little longer for an entrepreneurial Bahamian to break through. But if you're persistent, you will no doubt succeed ... but long gone are the days when a Bahamian was given a job just for being Bahamian.

Hope this helps
Posted by:Mar 21st 2006, 11:59:56 am
hometowni see this is a big topic that not anybody whats to comment on,,, but its gettin more & more serious evry day
Posted by:Mar 8th 2006, 08:49:05 am
piper7it's about time someone notice what's going on,my cousin travis can't get a yard to clean because of those haitians,and us as brilanders wouldn't try and do anything about that but just sit back and talk about on each other.im begging please try and do something about this please
Posted by:Mar 5th 2006, 09:39:05 pm
farius as brilanders need to get up off of our behines!! all of you people who allow the ileagal imigrants to cut ur yards,, you should be deported to haiti,,we have alot of young men of briland who are willing to get out there & work hard for a living,, travis an his crew in particular,, yes they cut yards, give them a chance,we as brilanders need to think bahamian,,i was at the narrows the other day all you can see is haitians!! whats up with that?? are all the winter residents are all haitians?? ask ur self that????? lets wake up briland before we lose somthing precious,,, after all we,re #1 with this haitian problem in the carribean,, think about it!!! iam at the point now its sickening,, nobody,s doing anything about it

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