Bahamian Immigration Officials reminded of their obligation to uphold the law

GRAND BAHAMAS, The Bahamas – Immigration officials in Grand Bahama and throughout the country were reminded Wednesday, October 3 of their obligation to uphold the law in protecting our borders and were encouraged to do so without fear or favor.

That message came from Senator the Hon. Elma Campbell, Minister of State for Immigration in the Ministry of National Security. The Minister traveled to Grand Bahama to participate in a one day Department of Immigration sponsored Motivational Seminar held at Workers House under the theme: Excellence in Customer Service.

Minister Campbell told Immigration officials that they are well aware of the important laws they are called upon to uphold in protecting the borders of our great Bahamas. She said those laws were designed to regulate and control the flow of migrants in and out of The Bahamas.

Ms. Campbell also advised that the government of The Bahamas has listened closely to the voice of Bahamians in its efforts to determine the policy we ought to implement to effectively carry out that law.

“The building blocks for the progressive development of immigration policy must include: a reduction in the number of illegal migrants in the country and a work permit system that permits us to expeditiously allow the engagement of persons with the skills and expertise we need in our country and at the same time disallow the issuance of work permits to persons that have contravened the immigration laws of the country including illegal entry or overstaying their time.

“It also must include regularization of the status of residents and registration of children born abroad to Bahamian married women,” she informed.

She further told the gathering that to achieve the kind of results that would distinguish the Department of Immigration they have an obligation to uphold the law and ensure that it is enforced without fear or favour.

The Minister also informed that murmurs of corruption, extortion of monies from illegal migrants and excessive use of force abound.

“I would not want these rumours to be true. My hope is that every man and woman among you is beyond reproach.

“For upstanding and hard working Immigration Officers who give excellent services to our country it is our intention that you would be rewarded. In addition to promotion on merit we are putting a series of initiatives together that will publicly recognize individuals for their effort on a regular basis,” she stated, adding that this was one of the topics planned for discussion during the seminar.

Additionally, Senator Campbell told staffers that it was no accident that the process of improving their Immigration product through seminars and workshops began in Grand Bahama.

“The conditions under which you work here in Grand Bahama are far from ideal. Yet, we have been able to proceed and dispatch with the business of government on every occasion I have been here. Let me assure you that the matter of your accommodation is one that we are considering,” she informed.

Touching on the theme for Public Service Week which is “Promoting Service in the Workplace,” and the theme for the seminar “Excellence in Customer Service” Ms. Campbell drew attention to the similarities in the two themes.

Minister Campbell told Immigration staffers assembled at the Workers House Auditorium that the seminar was well timed because it is held during the week of the Eighth Annual Public Service Week. A week set aside to recognize and celebrate the contribution of public officers to the growth and development of the country.

“The message is clear!” she noted. “As public officers, your duty is to serve and to serve with excellence and distinction in the workplace.”

Minister Campbell went on to remind the gathering about remarks made by Prime Minister and Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the public service the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham as he attended the church service at Ebenezer Methodist Church on September 30 which marked the start of Public Service Week.

“He commented on the custom that had developed in recent times to refer to civil servants as public officers. This was a well-intentioned development having as its purpose improving the image and giving added prestige to the Civil Service and attracting greater respect for civil servants.

“In the process however he lamented that two important words were lost: civil and servant. Too many become neither civil or servant. Complaints from the general public of poor and indifferent service signaled the further breakdown of civility among public officers,” she stated.

Minister Campbell said that Public Service Week’s and the Immigration Department’s themes are clearly intended to set the Public Service including the Department of Immigration on a new course.

She said Prime Minister Ingraham had raised examples of that new direction by drawing attention to persons that are being recognized during Public Service Week.

According to Ms. Campbell those persons have accepted and demonstrated that as a matter of course they must be civil which is to include being respectful, considerate, courteous and polite and to provide service that is helpful, cooperative and accommodating to all on their good and bad days.

Focusing on loyalty, dedication, commitment and hard work she told Immigration staffers that they should uphold those attributes as commendable examples of what public officers should be this Public Service Week and always.

She also agreed with the Prime Minister when he reminded Bahamians that the Public Service as the administrative arm of the government is an important check and balance on our system of governance. She said they must implement government policy in accordance with the constitution and laws of The Bahamas.

She agreed that the Public Service therefore should be independent and well established and that public officers serve best who give unbiased advice and follow the letter and spirit of the law in the performance of their duties.

She went on to tell participants that it was her hope that the seminar would give them some of the tools they need to ensure that they give clients of the Department of Immigration the most efficient service that they can.

Among the persons addressing the gathering on Wednesday were motivational speaker Mr. Spence Finlayson and the Assistant Director for Immigration in-charge of Grand Bahama, Mr. James Rolle.

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