'Already here and contributing'... this is what the OBA says of PRC holders affected by the recent legal status loophole. *File photo
'Already here and contributing'... this is what the OBA says of PRC holders affected by the recent legal status loophole. *File photo

The One Bermuda Alliance hopes that at their Town Hall meeting at the Devonshire Recreation Club this evening, the Progressive Labour Party does not exaggerate the effect of the Chief Justice’s Permanent Resident Certificate ruling, as they have been doing in the House of Assembly and in the media recently.

The important point to get clear is that suggestions that if Permanent Residents get status they will threaten peoples' jobs are entirely wrong.  PRCs already have full freedom of employment.

The people who are affected by the Chief Justice’s ruling have all of them spent many years in Bermuda.  In fact they have to have been here since at least 31st July 1989. They have made in many cases very substantial contributions to Bermuda’s economy and social fabric.  They are here in Bermuda now – no net increase in Bermuda’s population is threatened.  They already hold jobs so are not taking anything from Bermudians. Many of them own property as well.

The PLP have been casting this issue as one which the OBA welcomes because PRCs who get Bermuda status, the PLP suggests, will vote for the OBA.  That is not correct.  The list of PRCs contains Americans, Barbadians, British, Canadians, Filipinos, Irish, Jamaicans, Portuguese and something like 250 from other countries.  Who could even guess what their politics are? 

The OBA does not welcome this as something that will give us a political advantage – we see it as a headache for all Bermudians that was caused by the carelessness of the PLP Government in trying to do something quickly without proper study and thought.  

The PLP’s suggested method of dealing with the loophole is to simply shut the door and announce that the case is closed.  That’s like a country trying to deal with a refugee problem by simply shutting down the camps where refugees live.  Quite apart from anything else, people must not be treated that way in this day and age. 

The PLP suggests we are failing to stand up for Bermudians, but what we are doing is trying to solve this problem with due regard for the law, for justice and for human rights.  Although in this case they seem not to want to remember, these are principles the Progressive Labour Party itself has claimed many times to stand for. 

We have no intention of throwing up the kind of iron-fisted defence suggested by Mr Marc Bean and his colleagues to deny these people their human rights, rights that have very recently been affirmed by the Hon. Chief Justice. 

Finally, we would point out that the PLP has used many figures to define the scope of the problem – figures which have typically become larger as their voices have become louder. 

But the real figures paint a much smaller picture.    Some 1,455 people would be eligible under the clause that triggered the Chief Justice’s decision.  The clock must start again for their spouses – one needs to have been married to a Bermudian for 10 years before one is eligible for status.  As for children – they would be deemed to have Bermuda status only if they were under 22. This means most children will be too old.  The numbers are small. Enough of the rhetoric.