Mitchell responds to McCartney on immigration checks
STATEMENT: On 1 September, the press carried a report which said inter alia the following quoting Branville McCartney, the former Minister of State for Immigration and Leader of the Democratic National Alliance:
“You [Immigration officers] know where the illegality is happening and you come to a former minister’s house, one who is pro-enforcement? It can only be political. These guys know the time is counting down for them, tick-tock-tick-tock.”
“Mr. McCartney said he was disappointed by the incident, adding that Mr. Mitchell [the Immigration Minister] was the last person that should be engaging in political victimization.
“I wanted to find out what the problem was, if there was concern, and they said that they were not there. I find it a bit amazing that they would not be truthful and I have them on camera. They went all around my house, my pool.”
I’ve been speaking heavily about the Progressive Liberal Party and their policies. I’m very disappointed that something like that would happen and I would hate to believe that it’s political, but I can only assume that it is.”
I have now received a briefing on the matter. The Department of Immigration takes the following position:
Acting on information, Officers carried a status check in the area of Munnings Road on the 30th July. They discovered a man who appeared to be a non-national outside a yard in that area, who, when he saw them withdrew into the yard. They spoke to him and he produced documents to show he had legal status.
They asked if they could enter the yard and were given permission by him to do so. In the yard, they carried out other checks and some of those individuals were lawfully in The Bahamas. They noted, however, at the rear of the yard that some others had taken flight in adjoining properties after being warned by others working in the yard. When they question three others, the officers discovered that they did not have documents to be in The Bahamas. They were subsequently detained at the Carmichael Detention Centre and have since been repatriated to their home country.
The officers did not know whose property they were in until a call was received from Branville McCartney protesting the checks and claiming that the property was his. What was explained to him by the public officials during that call is now being given to the public. No more no less. He is therefore making a mountain out of a mole hill.
My personal position:
I was not privy to the specific road check in advance nor afterward, nor the questioning or detention of those arrested. The matter was routine. Mr. McCartney was not a person of interest in the matter as I understand it and he certainly nor his party or his political opinions are of specific personal interest to me as it relates to immigration enforcement. I am advised, the officers entered with the authority of the individual who appeared to be an agent of the property owner and therefore had ostensible authority to allow them on to the property. If that was the case, there was no need in the law, regulations or policies to ask for my sign off or permission, and I was certainly not involved at all until now. Even if that were not the case, no law, policy or regulation requires my sign off on an immigration check. Any suggestion of a political motive or act on my part is therefore a figment of his imagination, foolish, ill-advised and spurious.
As to the tick-tock of the clock. Mr. McCartney’s response shows that this is indeed the countdown to silly season.