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Opinions Last Updated: Oct 13, 2019 - 1:33:33 PM

Nicolette Bethel on Immigration
By Nicolette Bethel
Oct 13, 2019 - 12:21:40 PM

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Much has been said of late about immigrants, especially illegal ones. By "illegal immigrants", by the way, we really mean people who come here on boats, not jets, people who sail here from the south, not the north, and people who speak a different language and who worship a different way from us.

In other words, we mean Haitians. Or Jamaicans, if we're feeling really expansive.

Send them home, we say. Even those who were here all their lives. Even those who were born here. If they illegal, they gattie go. We're a small country, after all. No space. No resources, not like our neighbours to the north. We are not the USA and Canada, with all that money up there ready to give away to the poor and tired of the world. After all, they pay no taxes, and they crowd up all our services. We cannot afford to be magnanimous. Suffering is not our business; send them home.

Well, fine. No problem. Only—why should we stop at the Haitians and the Jamaicans? Why don't we send all the immigrants—especially the illegal ones—back to where they came from?

Sure. Let's send back all those people whose names we don't recognize. Petit? What kind of a name is that? Eve? Cherenfant? Amertil? Send 'em back. Don't forget Justilien or Paul, now. And why stop at the names we don't know? There are plenty of immigrants pretending to be Bahamians, who have passports and everything. Let's round 'em all up, shall we? Charter a boat (why worry with a plane?) and send 'em back off to Haiti where they all came from. Let's start with the Poitiers, the Moncurs, the Benebys, the Bonabys, the Bonamys, the Godets, the Symonettes, the Dillets, the Darvilles, the Deveaux, the Deleveaux, the Demerittes, the Delamores. Why leave out the Morees, the Romers, the Virgils, the Sargents, or the Scavellas? They trace their roots to Haiti too. And let's not be fooled by innocent-sounding names like Armbrister or Solomon or Bain or Benjamin or Fountain—they'll be found in a Haitian phone book if we look hard enough. The Isaacs may not be as innocent as they sound, and who knows what bloodline lurks behind a Williams or a Foulkes? When you think about it, Francis and Frazier sound kind of French, and Martin and Levarity, Seymour and Larramore are definitely suspect. And who can forget the Duvaliers?

In fact, when we start looking, we're gonna find that more than half the people who come from the southern Bahamas, from Cat and Long and Crooked and Ragged Islands, from Acklins and Inagua and Mayaguana and Exuma, are gonna have some connection with, to, or in Haiti. Why don't we just play it safe and send them all home? After all, there was a time not so long ago when Port-au-Prince was closer and fancier than Nassau to them, and many of their ancestors spent good time down there. We can't trust them at all. Let's send them all back, just to be safe.

And then there are the West Indians, not to mention the Cubans and the Dominicans. So let's see. We can start with the Gomezes, if they manage to escape the sweep of the southern islands. Never mind that they've produced archbishops and doctors and senators; they're immigrants, and as we can't be sure of their legality, let's just be safe and send 'em on home. Cuba or Dominican Republic? Let's not be picky, let's just get on with it. And then the Palaciouses. The Fernanders. The Gonzalezes and the Fondas and the Cancinos. Treco? Who cares, sounds kind of Latin, let's get on with it. DeGregory, D'Aguilar, Ferrera, Ferreira, Laroda—all gone. The Pindlings, the Mitchells and the Dumonts who didn't get sent back to Haiti, the Maynards, the Worrells, the Fieldses, the Alleynes, the Baileys, the Outtens, the Cookes, the Conliffes, the Bosfields, the Edwards, and at least half of the Clarkes.

But why stop there? Why deport just those people with the familiar faces and the funny names? Let's deal with all immigrants. The Bahamas for Bahamians, okay? So we'll send back all the Greeks, the Chinese, the Syrians and the Lebanese; there go the Galanises and the Meicholases and the Maillises and the Klonarises and the Moskos and the Alexious. There go the Cheas, the Wongs, and the Lees, the Bakers and the Ageebs and the Solomons and the Isaacs who didn't get on the boat to Haiti. Bye-bye, Esfakises. So long, Tsavoussises. Armourys, see ya.

But wait. Illegal immigrants, did we say? Well, hell, that has got to include all the Africans who came here as slaves. Did they have papers? We don't think so. Maybe their masters did, but who can tell? And while we're at it, who gave those masters these islands anyway? The Crown? What crown? Who gave England the Bahamas, when it was a sailor named Columbus who found us, and Columbus came from Spain? Surely all the English (and the Scottish and the Welsh and the Irish) settlers are illegal too—all the Christies and the Pinders and the Thompsons and the Russells and the Bethel(l)s and the Griffins and the Culmers and the Forbeses and the Fords and the Mac-whatevers and the Millers and the Smiths. Wilchecombes. Duncombes. Adderleys. Burnsides. Carters. Gibsons. Glintons. Saunderses. Malones. Currys. Foxes. Knowleses. Hannas. Robertses. Fergusons. Farquharsons. Cartwrights. Nottages. Searses. Griffithses. Strachans. Mosses. Careys. Wilsons. And Rolles. Especially those Rolles, with their so-called rights to the land. Who gave them rights anyway, when people were here before them?

In fact, let's get rid of everybody who isn't a Lucayan—a true-true-true Bahamian—anybody who isn't descended from one of the people who discovered Columbus in his lostness, when he claimed these islands, illegally, for Spain. I suppose Seminoles could stay, though they're immigrants too; they came here when America got Florida, back in the 1700s.

Or maybe they should go too. Immigration, after all, is the great evil of the age. We can't ever be too careful in stamping it out, now can we?

You tell me.

(First published in the Nassau Guardian February 2005)

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of TheBahamasWeekly.com

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