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An Expat Volunteer? Setting The Record Straight
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Page 1 of 1Total of 1 messages
Posted by:Mar 13th 2007, 01:38:53 pm
Fig Tree News TeamIn view of the recent confusing statements in various Bahamian media, the Ministry of Immigration offers clarification:


James T. Rolle, A.D. of Immigration, clarifies Policy Misconception
By James T. Rolle, Assistant Director of Immigration
Mar 14, 2007

Assistant Director of Immigration, James T. Rolle was the guest speaker at the Grand Bahama American Women's Club meeting held at the Ruby Swiss Restaurant in Freeport on Monday, March 12th. His address on the Expatriate Volunteer situation brought great relief to those in attendance, and as one member said, "He set the record straight and acknowledged the generosity and value of volunteer work in Grand Bahama".


It is noted with considerable interest, the various expressed opinions that followed an action taken by the Department of Immigration a few weeks ago.

The prevailing attention in these opinions is suggesting that the Department of Immigration has initiated a new policy, targeting expatriate volunteer workers associated with community service organizations; particularly on the island of Grand Bahama.

No such policy was ever announced by my Department, and the source of this misinformation has unfortunately misunderstood the terms of reference for volunteer work.

The Department of Immigration applauds the gestures of all legal expatriate residents who offer their time and services to the various organizations on this island, and indeed the Bahamas.

We affirm this position by making the following statements:

First, the Department of Immigration is very cognizant of the roles of the many non-profit service organizations on this island, and their importance in harnessing the social structure of our communities. We are quite aware that a large number of the membership and participants in such organizations and clubs are resident non-Bahamians, who are truly unselfish and free giving in promoting community service.

Secondly, the Department of Immigration has no intention of interrupting the normal community services offered by the various clubs and organizations by targeting any particular group of volunteers. We respect the work of all community focused groups in our society. To this end, we encourage those expatriates of legal status on this Island, to share their free time with civic groups involved in community building, and social restoration.

Additionally, it is important for all to understand that there must be some merit to the ideals of volunteer service and the institutions to which the participation is linked. No for-profit organization should engage the services of expatriates without the consent of the Department of Immigration. Such was the case which prompted my Departmentís response a few weeks ago.

It is disheartening however to see how The American Womenís club was named as the catalyst to validate an action within an organization to which you have no responsibility for.

I respectfully submit that no one should use the cloak of your club to justify their involvement with other institutions which you have not embraced.

Finally, you must be absolutely clear that the Department of Immigration is an advocate for social integration in our communities and we fully endorse all organizations and clubs that dedicate their time and effort in building communities through their various social programs. It is not necessary for my Department to subject any such group to formalities that are unreasonable.

Legal expatriate residents of The Bahamas have as much rights to be a part of any civic groupings as do Bahamians; under the terms and regulations of such groups.

It has always been the practice for groups who invite outside guest to participate in on-island activities to confer with the Department of Immigration, because the nature of some engagements do warrant some formal intervention; we expect that to continue.

We cannot however allow the dictates of opinions to interpret the term under which the department should carry out its responsibilities.

There has always been an impressive good relationship between my organization and the many civic groups on this Island; we wish to keep it that way.

I appeal therefore to all civic organizations on Grand Bahama, to see the Department of Immigration as a partner in promoting social harmony while showing mutual respect for the mandate of the otherís organization and focus on building a safe and strong community bond together.

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