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Bahamian government returns 373 Illegal Immigrants to their Homeland in Seven Days

Nassau, The Bahamas – Bahamas Immigration director Jack Thompson attributed the concerted efforts of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Bahamas Immigration Department and the public for the repatriation of 373 illegal immigrants to their homeland in the past week.

“I am pleased to inform that all of the agencies are working together. We are very pleased that the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Immigration Department and the community – the public have been very, very helpful in terms of assisting us with respect to information and repatriation exercises,” said Mr. Thompson.

During a press conference in the boardroom of the Bahamas Immigration Department on Tuesday, Mr. Thompson along with senior Immigration officers, shared information with the media relative to the recent repatriation exercises.

Senior Deputy Immigration Officer Roderick Bowe revealed that between December 23 and 30, 2008, Bahamasair, Sky Bahamas and Western Air have provided transportation to Haiti from various locations within The Bahamas including Bimini, Nassau, Exuma and Inagua.

He disclosed that in the seven-day period, the government repatriated 50 migrants from Inagua, 21 arrested near Bimini, 121 who landed at St. Andrew’s Beach, Yamacraw, 67 arrested in the Marshall Road area, six from Silver Cay and 108 from Exuma.

Senior Deputy Immigration Officer Roderick Bowe (left) and Immigration Director Jack Thompson addressing a press conference at the Department of Immigration
(BIS photo/Patrick Hanna)

“Yesterday we repatriated two flights – 33-seaters which took 31 persons each and a 19-seater which took 17,” said Mr. Bowe. “Additionally, today we have gotten the services of Bahamasair to fly two jet flights to Port-Au-Prince, Haiti,” Mr. Thompson explained.

“The first flight would have taken 113 (persons) and the second flight would have taken 85. In addition to that, the final flight was flown today with 31 of the 108 migrants that landed in Exuma and yesterday we had three flights out of Exuma.

“This leaves us with less than 50 persons at the Detention Centre and that has reduced the numbers substantially because as of the 23 (December) we have been inundated with a number of landings and persons coming into The Bahamas. Our team has been busy -Immigration and the Defence Force trying to collect those persons who have illegally landed,” added Mr. Bowe.

Mr. Thompson said that over $919,000 has been spent on repatriation exercises within the past month. “This is certainly a good sum of money which is being spent for repatriation, but the government of The Bahamas would have budgeted for it so we do have a quote in our budget for the purposes of repatriating illegal persons back to their homeland.

“I think when you really measure the costs to repatriate illegal persons against those if they were here what it costs on our social and health services to feed, house and clothe these people there is no comparison – and so overall there is no comparison. I think it’s a wise thing to repatriate them.

“With this team work, with this kind of effort with all engines of government moving, it is good to know that we are going to bring order and tackle this situation,” Mr. Thompson said.

The Immigration director acknowledged and thanked the government agencies, the public and the U.S. Coast Guard for their support.

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