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Filipino workers getting special treatment

The Immigration Department is catching some heat as some are questioning the fairness of its policies relating to foreign workers, as well as its position on the “Bahamians First” ideal.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the fore a number of operational deficiencies for the country with joblessness and a flailing economy leading the discussions. The immigration issues being debated relate substantially to both the high unemployment and the country’s current economic situation.

Complaints that Filipino housekeepers and their work permit holders are being given the “special treatment” have flooded The Gallery with some saying that the Minnis administration is turning a blind eye to the status of these workers while holding other nationalities like Haitians, Jamaicans and Dominicans in the same line of work accountable to the country’s immigration laws. Those complaints also point out that Filipino nationals are being allowed to work despite their questionable status in country while thousands of Bahamians, particularly those housekeepers and public spaces employees who’ve been furloughed from the tourism sector, remain without jobs.

One person, who expressly asked for their identity to be kept anonymous for “fear of victimization by (Prime Minister) Minnis,” alleges in his questioning of the matter that government officials are “curry favoring” or bowing to wealthy expats and other favoured foreigners.

“Is it that the current laws set in stone which governs the department of immigration only affect a certain class of citizens? Or is it that because the FNM government favours expats and other foreign migrants, these Filipino illegal immigrants are allowed favours of oversight to be granted? Or is it that the Bahamas Immigration Department empowers those work permit holders to make a mockery of our immigration policies and break the law because of who they are connected to,” he questioned.

Another person expressing their frustration with what they term a “hot mess” has suggested that Filipino housekeepers are being allowed to remain in country once their term of initial employment has ended and benefit from further gainful employment without having to go through the proper procedures.

“I’ve been working in housekeeping at the hotel my whole life and because of COVID they send me home... I can’t even find work outside the hotel cleaning for no one but the Filipino could? I understand some of them don’t even have rights to be here anymore because the people who bring them here left for someplace else, but they got jobs. How that work? I want know how come they could still be here working in Lyford Cay and in other gated communities after their work permit expires and after their employer has already left the country,” she asked.

A source close to the department shared that the current circumstances surrounding the complaints give the appearance that a certain class of people living in the country are in fact being given special privileges to the detriment of the average Bahamian.

“At this time when there is record unemployment, one would think that this FNM administration would be looking out for Bahamians. Shouldn’t there be a check and balance system in place at Immigration to purge those who are here with expired work permits as well as those whose expat employers have left the country? Like other workers here on a permit, once their employment term has ended – whether they’ve served out that term or whether their employer cut short that term and relocated – Filipinos working here on work permits should be made to follow the procedures required by law. “

“They should not be exempted but it seems they are and largely so because of the who’s who behind the gates,” the source said.

According to the insider, migrants have formed an association and through that association they “seek to dictate to the power that governs The Bahamas.”

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