Premier Michael Dunkley speaks with Reverend Nicholas Tweed and BIU leader Chris Furbert at the culmination of today's march. *Photo by Glenn Tucker
Premier Michael Dunkley speaks with Reverend Nicholas Tweed and BIU leader Chris Furbert at the culmination of today's march. *Photo by Glenn Tucker

Several hundred protesters gathered at Victoria Park this afternoon for a march in opposition of the government's recent handling of an immigration issue that could see 1,400 longtime island residents obtain Bermuda status.

The One Bermuda Alliance-led government announced earlier this week that it would not be pursuing a legal appeal to a decision that created a pathway for status for Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) holders.

Many in the crowd wanted the government to close the loophole in the immigration legislation that ultimately led to the legal judgment that opened the door to PRC holders.

"The government is hiding behind the law," Chris Furbert, Bermuda Industrial Union president told the crowd.

Devonshire resident Villa Dill brandished a sign calling for Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy to be ousted.

"The people of this country need to stop being disrespected," she said. "They close the loophole in the law and then sit down and determine what the criteria should be for immigration. They should suspend any applications until that happens."

Shirley Richardson is originally from North Carolina but obtained Bermuda status through marriage. She said she has no problem with PRC holders being granted status but they should "do it the right way" through a process established process, not a loophole that was unearthed through a legal case.

She thought the human rights argument for the granting of 1,400 PRC holders was a red herring. She said the OBA's handling of the matter amounted to "political trickery."

"It's all about politics," she said. "I don't believe the government is being honest."

She added, "Bermudians shouldn't feel like foreigners in their own country."

Pembroke resident Stanford Hart said he was concerned the offspring of the PRC holders would be competing with Bermudian children for jobs.

Julia Famous of Pembroke thought the PRC holders should be considered for status on a "case-by-case basis."

"The shouldn't just open the floodgates," she said before the march.

The march was organized by the People's Campaign and the Bermuda Trade Union Congress. The crowd made its way from Victoria Park to Cabinet Office, where it planned to convey its concerns to government officials.

"We want justice for all Bermudians, including the hardworking PRC holders who are stuck in the middle of this,"  Rev. Nicholas Tweed, who has spearheaded the People's Campaign, told the crowd.