Prime Minister David Thompson????

The need for an immigration policy that meets Barbados’ national goals was stressed by Prime Minister David Thompson last Tuesday, as he delivered a Ministerial Statement in the House of Assembly.

He was at the time laying the Green Paper entitled "A Comprehensive Review of Immigration Policy and Proposals for Legislative Reform".

Noting that there were a number of challenges being faced including commitments to CARICOM; globalisation and its attendant demands for the freer movement of persons across borders; Mr. Thompson said that there was an "obvious demand for systemic changes involving both policy and law".

He stated: "At the policy level we need to ensure instructions are clear and precise and, in effect, adequately, fairly and in a timely fashion address those situations faced by members of the public on a daily basis."

The Prime Minister also stressed the need to "reduce the scenarios that give rise to whimsical Ministerial or other discretionary and flimsy entitlements". He added that timely information needed to be given to applicants for various kinds of status who interact with the Immigration Department.

Mr. Thompson observed that there were too many anomalies and ambiguities related to legislation, which were exploited by those who had "worked the system over".?? He indicated that these needed to be remedied by way of amendments, amplification or through repeal.

"This has contributed to inaction, uncertainty and a large back-log of outstanding applications, not dealt with for over 12 years," he remarked.

The Prime Minister expressed concern about an anomaly which related to a person who was deemed to be ???ordinarily resident’ and who, under the 2000 Constitutional Amendment, Section 3A (1) would, as of right, qualify for citizenship.

He explained that the "troubling provision" could conceivably be interpreted as including persons who had been ordinarily residing in Barbados illegally and without documentation for 10 or more years.

"This is a classic example of the anomalies of which I speak and which must be rectified urgently.?? … the Green Paper is therefore intended to stimulate discussion on these issues which drive our immigration policies and are critical to both national security and national development," Mr. Thompson maintained.

He noted that it was Government’s intention to circulate the document to the widest possible audience in Barbados, within CARICOM and to the missions abroad for the benefit of the Diaspora.

"We are seeking here to consolidate and sustain the principles of good governance and, [as a] result, ensure public participation in helping us to shape policy," the Prime Minister revealed.

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