Opposition Senator Wilfred Abrahams says Barbados has a reputation for being anti-foreigner.
Contributing to debate on the Immigration (Amendment) Bill, 2014 in the Senate today, he suggested that to others in the region, it appeared that Barbados did not value other Caribbean Community (CARICOM) nationals.
“We in Barbados have gotten a reputation of [being] anti-foreigner . . . The Jamaicans think we are anti-Jamaican; the Guyanese think we are anti-Guyanese; the Trinidadians think we are anti-Trinidadian . . . Across the Caribbean, there is a feeling that Barbadians are anti-foreigners,” Abrahams said.
The attorney-at-law reminded Barbadians that most of the emerging economies of the world were built on migrant labour.
“In the 1960s and the 1970s thousands of Barbadians migrated to the United Kingdom to become nurses to work with the London Transport Authority. In the early 20th century, thousands of Barbadians migrated to Panama to work on the Panama Canal,” he pointed out.
“Those people migrated and created a life for themselves in these countries. Most of them remitted money to Barbados and contributed to the economy. So we developed as a people because of our ability to go overseas and make something of ourselves. The point is that at that time Barbadians were begging for a chance. We migrated into other people’s countries and asked them to give us the jobs we want to do. Are we trying to deny others the same chance?” Abrahams asked as he said he could not support the “ad hoc” amendment to the legislation.
Under the amendment, a person who is guilty of an offence under the Act or regulations made under the Act is liable on summary conviction, to a fine of $5,000 or to imprisonment for 12 months or to both; or on conviction on indictment, to a fine of $25,000 or to imprisonment for five years or to both.