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Bahamas: Arrest of 76 migrants unconnected to new law

Immigration officers apprehended several children during an island-wide raid on Saturda. Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell said some of the children were abandoned by adults during the raids. (NASSAU GUARDIAN PHOT BY AHVIA J. CAMPBELL).

San Juan, Nov 3 (EFE).- Bahamian authorities said that the arrest over the weekend of 76 undocumented migrants was not connected with a new, stricter immigration law that took effect Nov. 1.

The weekend detentions were a “routinary interdiction,” Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister Fred Mitchell said in remarks cited Monday by TheBahamasWeekly.

“From the time I became minister, there have been interdictions every day, every week. Yesterday was no different from what the Department ordinarily does and should not be used to inflame passions,” Mitchell said.

Under the new immigration law, the Bahamian government will not accept applications for work permits from persons residing illegally in the country, while legal immigrants will have to carry their passports at all times.

Mitchell referred to comments and photos posted on social media that he said could cause confusion among the public.

“It appears now that some political operatives have gotten into the matter with a view to seeking to sow the seeds of division. I ask them to desist. I ask the leaders of the opposition parties to speak to trolls on social media to resist the temptation to sow seeds of discord,” he said.

The minister said there were no reports of abuses by immigration authorities and emphasized that the new measures “are not targeted at any particular national group.”

“The job has to get done to protect our borders,” he said.

In 2013, some 50,000 Haitians were living in Nassau, the Bahamian capital, according to estimates by the International Organization for Migration.

Although there is a lack of official data, it is known that the vast majority of immigrants in theBahamasare Haitians, representing around 16 percent of the population. EFE