Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown
Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown

If critics feel the Progressive Labour Party is afraid the One Bermuda Alliance will gain votes by granting Bermuda status to the approximately 4,000 Permanent Residence Certificate Holders on the Island, the same argument can be made for those who support the Government.

 “It would be of tremendous value to the OBA if any number of the PRC holders were granted Bermuda status,” says Shadow Immigration Minister Walton Brown, Jr ahead of a public meeting on Thursday. “I am not saying that those holding PRC’s are OBA supporters. That would be speculative on my part. I am a researcher, I would have to examine deeper. I cannot make such an assumption.”

Mr. Brown, emphasizing that the PLP is not saying that none of the PRC holders should be granted status, but instead his party is urging the Government to complete a comprehensive review of immigration policy before handing out citizenship to anyone.

“No sensible government would allow so many residents status in one fell swoop,” Mr. Brown says. “Many countries have a limit on how many residents are granted status each year. It is irresponsible and not in the best interest of Bermudians to give out status like that.”

But if PRC holders have the right to jobs like born Bermudians, how would granting them status possibly cause displacement? “There was a policy in place that was graded, meaning Bermudians, then spouses of Bermudians, were considered for jobs first. I don’t know if it is still used today but if PRC holders are granted status, it will cause even greater competition on the workforce.

“Let’s also look at housing. Currently there are certain houses on the lower end of the spectrum that PRC holders are not able to purchase. If they were to receive their status all at once, those houses could disappear.”

Mr. Brown added that while he believes a number of current PRC holders could be deserving of receiving status, it should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

The Shadow Immigration Minister also says he does not believe status should be granted to a person who holds citizenship in another country that is not a part of the Commonwealth.

He explains: “I am a Bermudian. If I became an American citizen, I would not be able to run for office in Bermuda. However, an American can receive status and cannot lose their citizenship because they were born there. But they can run in Bermuda.  They do not have to declare an allegiance. How can a person not born here have more rights than I do, which is why I say there needs to be a comprehensive review of immigration policy.” 

The PLP hosts a public meeting on the PRC issue, Thursday, 6pm at Clearwater Middle School.