The Bahamas, for decades, has made clear that its Haitian residents, especially the undocumented, are not welcome. They are unfairly stigmatized, ostracized and bad-mouthed. But this is the worst time for the country to resume its iron-clad immigration policy of deporting Haitians who have been living in the Bahamas illegally.
In September, after Hurricane Dorian brought utter devastation to Grand Bahama Island and Abaco Island, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis declared that deportations would be suspended, a justified respite. Recently, though, he announced they would resume.
Obviously, the trauma of being deported before the hurricane to a dysfunctional Haiti — rocked by corruption, protests, an ineffectual government, a flummoxed president, food scarcity, rampant unemployment and even tent cities still inhabited almost a decade after the 2010 earthquake — pales in comparison to barely surviving Dorian’s deadly ferocity and then being kicked out of the country.
Michelle Karshan, who runs a disaster-recovery program for children in Haiti, told the Editorial Board, “There’s been no national budget for (two) years, there’s a huge movement for the president to step down, hospitals and schools are not open and there are upwards of (30,000) internally displaced people since the earthquake.
”It’s an impossibility to resettle people into Haiti now.”
The Bahamas is a sovereign nation with the right to legislate its immigration policies as it sees fit.
But the government’s restrictions on Haitian residents’ ability to return to communities such as the Mudd and Sandbanks by banning any rebuilding, after they’ve been sequestered in shelters, sounds like a land grab, an attempt to get rid of a population that was never welcome in the first place.
— The Miami Herald