BRIDGETOWN, Barbados: Prime Minister David Thompson says illegal immigrants are putting a strain on the country’s resources and the problems they cause can no longer be ignored.
Thompson says Barbados cannot continue to “bury its head in the sand” and ignore the challenges being placed on its limited resources.
“We don’t have the financial resources to do it, we don’t have the physical space, we have housing challenges, (and) we have big health issues because of squatting,” said Thompson.
“It has created a situation where you have substandard housing in some areas, squatting in water zones in this country…elements of corruption in the public sector have been encouraged, with people seeking to get false identification cards, with persons renting ID cards that don’t carry photographs so that children can go and receive benefits in the polyclinic system…We are not going to allow that to happen.”
Thompson said government was seeking to implement a managed migration program which would prevent too many decisions being placed at the discretion of a minister, and allow persons traveling to Barbados to know what was expected of them or what they are entitled to and the requisite body they would have to report to in order to have any concerns addressed.
“We will have more people making decisions. We will have more review panels rather than the current situation where there is only one immigration review panel and, hopefully, in that process there will be more democratization and more clarity as it relates to immigration,” said Thompson.
Responding to critics who point out that many Barbadians had migrated to other countries many years ago, Thompson insisted that the majority of those persons had traveled under legal guest worker programs or other official migrant schemes. He said just as they went under orderly immigration programs, so must those coming into Barbados now.
Thompson said he was not seeking to “to chase everybody out” but to find ways to deal with the high number of illegal immigrants while, at the same time, taking into account the country’s financial commitments, its obligations to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and to international bodies.