An online petition opposing one of the Andrew Fahie administration’s latest Immigration initiatives has been launched.
The petition, entitled ‘Regularization – Residency and Belonger Status’ was created by a group of locals that included outspoken resident, Cindy Rosan-Jones.
“We request that the amendments to the Immigration and Passport Act (Cap. 130), as they relate to the regularisation of residency and Belonger status, be withdrawn from the order paper for May 17, 2019, and an opportunity for Virgin Islanders and Belongers to be involved in this process,” they said.
The petitioners believe locals should have a say via public consultations on the matter before any further action is taken.
The group, which launched the petition recently, is hoping to get 1,000 signatures. Up to publication time, 80 signatures were already affixed to the petition.
‘Flawed and illegal’
The creators of the petition said there were several reasons behind their opposition to government’s regularisation policy.
“We wish to categorically oppose the flawed premises used to support your illegal move and express our disappointment in the process you have taken to blindside our people,” the petitioners said in a statement directed at the Fahie-led Virgin Islands Party (VIP) government.
“The Virgin Islands Party manifesto can be said to be a contract between the people and the government with an overwhelming majority in the House of Assembly. In it, on page 23, your government promised to establish an Immigration and Labour reform committee to ensure that our systems are fair but always putting BVIslanders and Belongers first.”
Contraction of VIP manifesto
The organisers of the petition further noted that the same position was outlined throughout the manifesto. However, they argued that the government’s actions in relation to the regularisation of expatriate residents contradict the contents of their manifesto.
“You have strategically left BVIslanders and Belongers out of the equation, and have failed to put us first in your priorities by starting this process without a comprehensive study on Immigration, or an Immigration and Labour reform committee, as you promised, nor have you consulted with Virgin Islanders,” the petition organisers said.
“Our people have a right to know, and a right to expect their representatives to act on their behalf on matters that concern them. Your government failed to come to the people of this territory about this regularization programme before your announcement on May 7, 2019, and there is no transparency in the process about how the decision for the regularisation came about,” they added.
Moral, constitutional, nat’l security factors
The organisers further indicated that no published Cabinet decision was made in relation to the new state of affairs. They also argued that there were moral, economic, legal, constitutional, and national security tiers to the issue.
“Our country already adds hundreds of residents and Belongers to its numbers every year. The strategy cannot be about increasing those numbers, but must be about ensuring that the right people with the best interest of our people and society at heart are awarded this privilege,” they argued.
The group also said if the government’s regularisation initiative is a means towards investment, a programme called Foreign Direct Investment would be a more effective approach.
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