A US Congresswoman yesterday called on the Bahamas government to modernise “antiquated” immigration laws that she claims
#disenfranchises communities and disadvantages future generations.
#South Florida representative Frederica Wilson also called on CARICOM to prioritise growing migration issues on the sidelines of a tear-filled medical consultation for sick teen Taranique Thurston at Jackson Memorial Hospital.
#The consultation comes more than a year after the 16-year-old first started experiencing blinding headaches that at times rendered her unable to see clearly or walk unsupported.
#Taranique does not have a passport, and her journey to gain entry to the United States on an emergency medical visa has renewed concerns over the unregularised status of Bahamas-born children of second generation foreigners, mainly those of Haitian descent, who were also born in the country.
#“These antiquated laws have not kept up with today’s society,” Mrs Wilson said.
#“CARICOM needs to place this issue of immigration at the top of its agenda, and tackle it as a problem.”
#She continued: “Because what’s going to happen is we’re going to find ourselves more and more stateless people, which is unfair to the next generation that we’re trying to raise and unfair to the people who just want to make a living and take care of their families. So we have to look at those antiquated laws and adjust them to today’s population and how we live across the world.”
#The Bahamas government has insisted descendants of Haitian migrants born in the country are legally entitled to Haitian citizenship, and as a result, have no claim to statelessness. People born in the Bahamas to non-nationals are entitled to apply for citizenship at the age of 18, and the government’s policy mandates children seek out the nationality of their parents in the interim period to satisfy requirements for all residents to be documented.
#However, Taranique’s mother Ginette Caty claims her repeated attempts to regularise her daughter were unsuccessful. Ms Caty was reportedly born in the Bahamas to a Mexican mother and a Haitian father, and was naturalised in 2013. Taranique’s father, who is not married to her mother, is also a Bahamian. Under Bahamian law, if the two were married at the time of Taranique’s birth, the child would have been considered a Bahamian.
#“Even though she was born there in the Bahamas, and I was born there in the Bahamas, we are not considered Bahamian,” said Ms Caty, who yesterday expressed gratitude to officials, friends and family whose efforts have put her daughter within reach of potentially life-saving medical treatment.
#“I had days I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat,” Ms Caty said. “My daughter kept saying ‘so what they’re going to leave me here to die?’ I had some money saved up to get my home, I’m a single mother. I took that money and took her to Doctors Hospital, and that’s where we got the diagnosis and referral to Jackson Memorial – that was April of this year.”