Premier and Minister for Finance Dr. the Hon. D. Orlando Smith announced this week that he would be making a statement on the matter of fees for expat children which was raised in August, during which time it was alleged that immigration threatened to deport a baby.
While speaking to reporters on 1 October Hon. Smith said that the matter was not forgotten: “I have in fact reviewed that policy… the Chief Immigration Officer is looking at the matter and I am prepared to make a statement on that very soon.”
Back in August when the matter was first put to the Premier, Hon. Smith told reporters “I agree that it is something that should not be there and we are looking into it actively. Anything that is done by legislation has to be reviewed through legislation, and when we speak about legislation then you have to go to the House of Assembly. It means being considered by all of the members of the House of Assembly; and while I say this is what I want to do, it depends on all 13 members.”
The matter of the fees for expat children was raised on 14 August when Sixth District Representative Hon. Alvera Maduro-Caines disclosed that mothers are being asked to pay in order for their children – who were born here – to be able to remain in the Territory.
Hon. Maduro-Caines told the House at that time that the matter was one that she had raised before. “I spoke in the House sometime back about a fee that is being charged to parents whose children were born here, to remain here; and I asked that this fee be taken away.”
The Legislator said that she received a complaint from a mother whose baby was threatened with deportation. “She (baby’s mother) was basically being threatened that her baby, who is not a year yet would get deported because she didn’t know about this fee that she has to pay. How could you threaten to deport a baby and say yes the father is from here but your child don’t have no right here. A child has to have some kind of right in a country where he or she was born,” Hon. Maduro-Caines said.
As she lamented the cruel situation, the Sixth District Representative told her colleagues that the usual explanation that this was as a result of imperial legislation would not be accepted. “Mr. Speaker, I understand all the UK hoopla and all the stringent things that’s in the Constitution…but this fee that is being charged is not a UK law this is something that can be changed.”
“It’s bad enough that the children can’t get a passport until they are probably 18 years, but to charge somebody for staying in a country that they were born needs to be addressed and it needs to be dissolved I do not think it’s fair,” she said.