NASSAU, Bahamas – The Immigration Department has formed a Public Relations and Communications Unit to disseminate the goals and initiatives regarding immigration issues, Minister of State for Immigration the Hon Branville McCartney recently announced.


The unit will have oversight for the department’s newsletters, press releases, television and radio advertisements, website creation and research within the department.


Key goals of the Department of Immigration are to recruit, train and deploy additional immigration officers, require the routine observance of established and public immigration rules, ensure the enforcement of immigration laws, and provide timely processing of applications for expatriate skilled labour or technical expertise required in the economy, but not available in the country.


“The department has been restructured so as to effectively and efficiently respond to the demands and expectations of our Bahamian society,” Mr. McCartney said.


He said that the department’s new management team headed by newly-appointed Director of Immigration Jack Thompson is expected to energize the base of the department and has already infused new vision and enthusiasm toward the fulfilment of its goals.


Regarding the effects of illegal immigrants on the society, Mr. McCartney said given the global economic turn down, the department’s role becomes even more critical.


“We are certainly not in the position to have illegal persons working in The Bahamas when Bahamians themselves are looking for work,” he said.


In this vein, he said that the department would redouble and accelerate its apprehension exercises in the future.


From 2004 to the end of 2008, a total of 29,810 illegal immigrations have been repatriated at a cost of more than four million dollars, Mr. McCartney disclosed.


The Immigration Department has been restructured and restored so as to cause the organisation to be more responsive, effective and efficient to the demands of today, he said, adding that renewed focus will be placed on customer service.


Services will incorporate turnaround time with respect to work applications, at the airports, especially the Lynden Pindling International Airport, as well as docks, he said.


Also on tap are the completion of a Policy Paper, a hotline for the public to call in and report illegal activities, training and professional development and the commemoration of the department’s 70th anniversary.