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Opposition AWOL as Immigration & Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019 passed

- Bill received the vote of all Virgin Islands Party (VIP) legislators
After receiving debates from only two Members of the House of Assembly, the Immigration & Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019, which received much opposition in the public domain, mostly from locals, was passed via vote during the Fourth Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) yesterday, June 3, 2019. Photo: Youtube
Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) said the passing of the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019 was long overdue because leaders before had sidestepped it because of their political insecurity, much to the detriment to the citizens of the territory. Photo: Youtube
Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) said the passing of the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019 was long overdue because leaders before had sidestepped it because of their political insecurity, much to the detriment to the citizens of the territory. Photo: Youtube
Opposition legislator Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines was of the view that the ‘fast track’ regularisation of expats could have been done without a public announcement as was the case over previous administrations. Photo: Youtube
Opposition legislator Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines was of the view that the ‘fast track’ regularisation of expats could have been done without a public announcement as was the case over previous administrations. Photo: Youtube
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI- After receiving debates from only two Members of the House of Assembly, the Immigration & Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019, which received much opposition in the public domain, mostly from locals, was passed via vote during the Fourth Sitting of the First Session of the Fourth House of Assembly (HoA) yesterday, June 3, 2019.

“This was a shorter debate than I thought,” remarked Premier and Minister of Finance Honourable Andrew A. Fahie (R1) in wrapping up the debate after contributions only from Minister for Health and Social Development Hon Carvin Malone (AL) and Opposition Member and Sixth District Representative Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines.

Notably absent during the passing of the Bill were the four Members of the Opposition who had left the House during the Committee stage. All eight (8) of the Government legislators voted on the passing of the Bill.

Bill sets path for immigration reform

Premier Fahie said it was a Bill that was long overdue because leaders before had sidestepped it because of their political insecurity, much to the detriment to the citizens of the territory.

“It was getting worse and worse while politicians twiddled their thumbs for not doing their duty.”

When the Virgin Islands Party (VIP) was elected on February 25, 2019 it pledged to be courageous in doing what is right for the people of the Territory.

And according to Premier Fahie, he and his team listened to the citizens via the consultations and various other means and it was noted that people opposed the regularisation programme his Government proposed because they were fearful of losing their patrimony and heritage and they already felt disenfranchised when jobs they can perform are given to foreigners.

“They are right and this must stop. The solution to this is comprehensive immigration policy and labour reform, Premier Fahie stated, explaining that phase one is clearing the backlog of persons already in the system. “Which is one of the objectives of this bill. We cannot move forward to implement the protection of our people with this backlog hanging over the territory. This needs to be disposed of one way or another so that the reforms can be implemented against the backdrop of a clean slate.”

Minister for Health and Social Development Hon Carvin Malone (AL) was the only Government legislator to contribute to the debate. Hon Malone gave a historical perspective on the VI’s population over the years. He also said the Bill was a good first step to immigration reform.

‘Fast track’ initiative could have been done in silence- Hon Maduro-Caines

Opposition legislator Hon Alvera Maduro-Caines was of the view the ‘fast track’ regularisation of expats could have been done without an “amnesty” call.

“All the Minister [of Immigration] had to do was to summon all the files that were there, get with the [Immigration] Board and approve the necessary persons to fast track their status, whether it be residents or belongers.”

According to Maduro-Caines, all governments in the past gave status to eligible expats “in silence.”

The Sixth District Representative, now in her third term, said she has no problem with anyone who has dedicated their time and effort in developing the territory getting status; however, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it. “This is not something you can just fix in three weeks.”

“Government could have gotten together and bring labour and immigration to the House and make the amendments needed to the Labour and Immigration Bill. What we are doing here, Mr Speaker, is a patch work.”

Further, Hon Maduro-Caines said the Bill has cost too much discord among the people, locals and expats alike. “To me it could have been avoided because this piece of legislation did not have to come to the House. This could have been made internally.”

Meanwhile, Hon Fahie would later explain that the word “amnesty” was indeed initially used but once the Government realised it was not the proper term it was changed immediately.

Where were the Opposition & protestors?

Hon Fahie further noted that the debate was fruitful but he was a bit concerned with the lack of contribution to the debate, “because Members of this Honourable House can agree to disagree because healthy debates are important for all perspectives are brought to the forefront and democracy can be maintained.”

“But it seems the Opposition saw the light of wisdom after listening to the opening of the debate today because they had nothing to say when their turn came to speak, except for one member.”

Hon Fahie said it can be left to assume the Opposition has no more concerns, “they have no more fears with the legislation and they have no more questions. I think it is safe to conclude that because this was the place to have those issues properly ventilated.”

There was also a group of persons that had threatened to protest and even “shut down” the HoA over the Immigration and Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019 reappearing on the Order Paper for the June 3, sitting of the House.

The protestors, who were being incited by Second District Representative Hon Melvin M. Turnbull, did not show.

9 Responses to “Opposition AWOL as Immigration & Passport (Amendment) Act, 2019 passed”

  • AJ (04/06/2019, 12:27) Like (8) Dislike (26) Reply
    This Immigration Issue will be the nail in VIP coffin.
  • spider (04/06/2019, 12:32) Like (21) Dislike (2) Reply
    You know I personally like Hon. Maduro-Caine’s but sometimes I swear she is not always aware of things she says.. why honorable did it have to be done in silence?.. I am very proud of the Premier and his team for getting the public’s opinion on this matter.. your NDP is what have our country the way it is now, but what’s done in secret always come to light and that’s why your government is out and you’re sitting on the opposition.. your then Gov’t had years to fix it.. did they?..ms Maduro -Caine’s plz go sit down n keep your mouth shut..the opposition knew the premier and his team was doing the right thing as it related to the regularization law of persons living there for x number of years..some of these expats in the past that got status who is to say they were eligible. We all know how the NDP LOOOOVE to give things as long as it benefits them.. I doubt if all were eligible to have status..however I would have liked to see the “3rd generation” children being natural belongers instead of having to apply for it..
    • @ spider (04/06/2019, 18:43) Like (6) Dislike (6) Reply
      You just back up off our rep. At least she spoke on the bill unlike her other colleagues. She never said the call had to go in silence. What she said us that all the years, even under the pass vip governments, status were given in silence. You only knew about them after they were posted in need paper etc. she further said the amendments did not have to come to the house (and she's right). You are the one lacking in understanding. You shut your darn mouth. We know which camp you blog from but you and JS can go back under your rock and come again. God got her back and the people in D6
      • SMH (05/06/2019, 08:21) Like (1) Dislike (1) Reply
        Well, you need to back off JS. Yes, she is your Representative, not all of the 6th. Her demeanor clearly shows that!
        • SMH (05/06/2019, 22:32) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
          There are more for her than against her., that was clearly shown in all of the elections.
  • DON Q (04/06/2019, 15:02) Like (11) Dislike (8) Reply
    I love speaker Willock no games
  • Charley Rose (04/06/2019, 19:51) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
    This is the best Premier the BVI ever had. He made it his duty to inform the nation of every initiative he intends to undertake. Unlike the previous NDP government doing things in secret. This is a Premier in the sunshine. Hon. Maduro Caines, I am disappointed in you and your NDP colleagues. Hon. Fahie is bringing a new brand of politics to the territory. Poor Hon. Fraser and Hon. Turnbull are spellbound and loss for words. The opposition Leader is a waste of time. He must realise that his government is out of power and follow the orders of the Hon. Speaker

    Whether the opposition likes it or not they will see how to lead the people. It was the NDP government that hustled through the RDA and approver $350.000.00 salary to the CEO. That should not be. They did it in silence that's why. If it was Hon. Fahie that would not have happened. We have to pay that high salary for five years. That is what Hon. Fraser should have protested about. Now Fraser got strength to fight against Hon. Premier. God will see the Premier through it all.
  • @Charlie Rose (04/06/2019, 21:53) Like (2) Dislike (3) Reply
    You sound like a real a**kisser mumu. No sense whatsoever!
  • wize up (04/06/2019, 22:04) Like (6) Dislike (0) Reply
    I personally think the fantastic 4 should have added their 2 cents to the bill before the house of assembly: on the 25 February 2019 the people sent them into the house to represent them and to simply abandon a sitting of the house is very simple minded of those politicians: defend your people at all cost; for 8 years that same group defended all manner of political corruption now cutting style...yep!!! none of them went AWOL when the 8 mil sewage project. the current opposition sat around the table with the 7.2mil and the beat goes on!!! the wall and the pier park all of the current operation said nothing to the people of this territory: now all 3 of them up in the congress playing holier than dow


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