Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, congratulated Barbados’ newest citizens and praised staff of the Immigration Department during his address at the Citizenship Ceremony at Solidarity House, today. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Barbados’ newest citizens were today told that their present status was attained because of the hard work and dedication of this country’s Immigration Department.

This was underscored by Minister of Home Affairs and Information, Wilfred Abrahams, as he addressed the Induction ceremony for some 100 new citizens, at Solidarity House, Barbados Workers’ Union Headquarters, Harmony Hall, St. Michael.

Speaking in the presence of Chief Immigration Officer (Ag), Margaret Inniss, and a cadre of her staff, Minister Abrahams, congratulated the Citizenship and the Immigration teams as a whole, and pointed out that the island was proud of them.

Turning to the new citizens, who come from as far as Russia, he said: “Your process was very likely a painless one? That was not the way it was before. The citizenship process was a very convoluted process, frustrating for a lot of people and generally took a very, very, very long time.  And, I am pleased with the new attitude and new approach shown by the Immigration Department and the officers there.

“That to me exemplifies what it is to be a Bajan – that the Immigration Department, as opposed to being a department everybody is afraid to go into, has become the example in Barbados of what a department of Government should be; what service really is!”

While echoing similar sentiments, the Acting Chief Immigration Officer pointed out that it was 10 years ago that the department embarked on the citizenship ceremonies and at the time, it occupied “a very old building” but had a “modern attitude”.

“We had an attitude where we wanted to give impeccable service; we subsequently moved to a newer modern building and our attitude improved. Hence, the reason we are actually processing applications in a record time,” Ms. Inniss explained.

Also, commending the staff for their hard work and dedication, she told the new citizens: “The lead team person in the Citizenship Section, Ms. Patricia Greene; she and her team, they came in on Saturday mornings early; they worked late nights to make this possible; they took calls at odd hours; they returned calls; Why? Because you are important to us and we see you as family.”

The Acting Chief Immigration Officer then welcomed the new citizens into what she referred to as: “the Barbadiana family” and acknowledged that the history behind it all was important.

“It is not only your final step to becoming a new citizen of Barbados, not only is it the legal requirement for you to become a citizen, but also it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to welcome you into the fold of Barbadiana. It is an opportunity to give you a little bit of the history pertaining to why you are here and those persons who made this possible,” she emphasized.

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