Migration has often been depicted as a major problem for struggling developing countries, whether as receiver or sender nation. The loss of valuable workers and human capital for sending countries, is sometimes largely offset by monetary remittances by migrants working in receiver countries.

Importantly, for sending countries, the movement of large numbers of people from their population and regulatory registers removes this economic burden, transferring the cost and responsibility to receiving nations. This becomes advantageous to sending countries, but only to a crucial point. Sender nations soon find themselves exporting some of the most industrious.

In receiving countries, local market responses to migrant labour has always been mixed as immigrant communities grew to unexpected and sometimes economically untenable levels. Negative shocks occurred in receiving countries when periods of economic recession, flat growth or substantial setbacks focused the nation’s attention on the true costs (social and financial) of expanding pocket communities existing within larger national economies.

The issues surrounding economic migration only become more magnified, more pointed if the element of undocumented, illegal movement of people is added to the equation. Undocumented and illegal migration exposes fissures, especially when the use of such labour, within receiving economies, becomes commonplace.

(The Palm Beach Post, Wednesday, 21 April 1993)

Manifold problems, from nationality to treatment to moral responsibility, become magnified the more time accumulates for the undocumented and the illegal, on foreign soil.

“Seya Senile, 20, thought he was in Miami when he and 42 other Haitians climbed off a boat and waded to shore in the Bahamas. His dreams to come to Florida are offset by an enjoyable lifestyle he found in Tortue Yard, a settlement in tropical woods near Nassau.”

(The Palm Beach Post, Wednesday, 21 April 1993)

UNDOCUMENTED HAITIANS AND FARM WORK IN ABACO SAID TO BE EXPLOITATION

Haitian migration, into the Bahamas, has long been continuously punctuated by acrimony, acquiescence, and an advantageous aggrandisement, moving in many directions, falling into many pockets, from Haiti to the Bahamas, and beyond.

By 1993, with so many undocumented, illegal Haitian migrants living in the Bahamas, the numbers were broadly estimated to be between 16,000 to 60,000 persons. Many had carved out existences in the bushes on islands from New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahama across the archipelago down to Inagua.

In 1993, Darcy Ryan, then head of the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, in Freeport, told reporters that he was making a formal report to complain on the deplorable conditions of some 200 Haitians employed on a citrus farm, in Abaco. Described as something reminiscent of the sharecropper and cotton picking days, workers detailed how they had to pay $2 to ride on the company supplied bus just to go to the grocery store in town; and even more appalling, women were having many miscarriages after heavy spraying of chemical on the farm. More worryingly, babies were being born in these conditions.

Darcy Ryan’s report was based on a fact finding mission in December 1992 by Haitian community groups, church organisations and even the American Jewish Community from the United States.

(The Palm Beach Post, Wednesday, 21 April 1993)
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