(Photo Credit: Gordon French/BVI Platinum News)
Virgin Islanders are reaching out to Legislators, signing a petition and making their unhappiness about the Clear Path Regularization initiative publicly known to Premier and Minister for Finance, Hon. Andrew Fahie.
The regularization initiative is aimed at conferring Residence/Belonger status to persons who are of good character and have lived and worked in the Territory for 15 years and more, and was announced by the Premier on May 7, with the required legislative amendments scheduled for May 17.
However, since that time, a number of concerned Virgin Islanders have pushed back against the initiative. In fact, the Premier confirmed that he has received representation, heard complaints about the initiative verbally, and even via Whatsapp messaging.
The concerned citizens are now bringing their complaint to the public, and as of Tuesday, a petition commenced circulation.
The petition which is dated May 12, is addressed to the Premier and cited various parts of the Virgin Islands Party’s (VIP) manifesto, noting that at one section the party promised immigration reform that puts Virgin Islanders first.
The document admits that the party did note in its manifesto plans to regularize permanent residents. However, the petitioners noted that Virgin Islanders have been left out of the equation.
“While your government has started the regularization process, you have strategically left BVIslanders and Belongers out of the equation, and have failed to put us first in your priorities; and have begun this process without a comprehensive study on immigration or an immigration and labour reform as you have promised, nor have you consulted the people,” the petition stated.
During the launch of the initiative, the Premier explained that regularizing persons, who he said have lived and toiled in the BVI for close to two decades, is the right thing to do on various fronts, including moral and economical. However, the petitioners disagreed, stating, “There is nothing morally wrong or unconscionable about our concerns over your proposed regulation.”
Hon. Fahie had explained that persons, once regularized, will be more likely to invest in the Territory and work harder to build the BVI. The petitioners on the other hand said “…The Residency by Investment Act is not the most profitable.”
During a radio programme on May 14, a group of Virgin Islanders aired their concerns about the regularization initiative and urged fellow Virgin Islanders to call members of the House of Assembly and ask them not to vote for the amendment on Friday.
During the program, Angelle Cameron explained that she understands the basis of the initiative, but said, “I feel threatened about this.”
On the other hand, Cindy Rosan-Jones, who was a panelist on the program, stated that living in the BVI for a certain amount of years is not the only qualifier for Belonger status. “Because you have been here for 15 years does not give you the right or its on automatic...”
“I don’t really want to hear I have been here forever, so what. What have you done,” she added.
Meanwhile, Jamal Smith, who was also a panelist, questioned the legality of the regularization initiative.
Both Rosan-Jones and Smith implored citizens to make representation to elected officials as it relates to the amendment that will be made to the Passport and Immigration Act on Friday to facilitate the initiative.
Rosan-Jones said, “Call all your representative…pressure them not to do the vote in House on Friday. That’s what we need to do. We need to have this halted until we understand exactly how this would affect the BVI. We need this to stop, we need Premier to stop; we’re going to start a petition…We are going to pressure our reps.”
Smith stated that he will not vote for any legislator who supports the amendment.
“Anybody who is going to be supporting this come Friday is not going to receive an X from me period.”
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Trust NotIt is reasonable for every citizen to be concerned about the possible effects to proposed immigration and labour law amendments on their nation. However, the present condition is consistent with unreasonable and improper processing and consideration for immigrants with good character in the BVI living and working here over the past 10 to 20 plus years, in conjunction to certain very unreasonable policies put in place. The BVI people are fortunate to have been born in such a wonderful geographical terrane, with close proximity to the USVI, Puertrico and others which allows so much convinience to its people, infact you are blessed to help others, a courtesy extended to u also, a fact that most are ignorant to. The United states which so many BVIslanders hold green cards and passports for, offers equal oppertunities, welcome home is what you recieve when ever u enter the Us boarders. Its shameful and low that you could feel and express openly such hatred towards people who you have allowed in this counrty after vetting them. This racism mainly amongst black people and mere ignorance or is it simply concern for the well being of BVIslanders? These people are your wives, husbands, children, those you work with, socialize with, well certainly not friends with as you have shown, an ego can be damaging. its amaizing how much you hate these people who you continue to allow into your country. The expressions from BVIslanders to exparts, wow its unbelieveable the things being said. Equally all other contries affected by the past hurricanes have been rebuilt including some of the poorest ones but the BVI is still struggling to rebuild.
TruthI am I am allergic to stupidity and nonsense.have no room in my mind or heart for those things , We claim say we are a Christian nation ,a love your Neiber as yourself and this doesn't mean who live next to you but how you treat strangers but there is nothing Christian about this behavior , I wonder if person realize that there is a God who said vengeance belongs to him he will repay .Lord I truly repent on behave of the ignorant of the people , who lock vision wisdom knowledge and understanding pray for mercy Jesus.
WorriedThis is Pharaoh and the Egyptians at work, not including the Premier, I know in his heart he wants to free God's people, as it was with the Egyptians, so shall it be with the so called BVI indigenous people, God says he sees, he heard, and he come down to deliver. In the midst of God's wrath, God's people is always safe.
4th DistrictSo this ain't even no surprise... that's the reason why the hon. Myron wasn't voted as premier So you think them going allow all you to get status without a fight down..... remember the talks for years about hon. Vanterpool, Walwyn, Christian, and many others who have contributed way more than these Johnny jus-a-come and the kind of comments been made against them......
PabloYou cannot rely on the contribution of people only when it you want to exploit them. What explanation do you have for not granting applicants status after some of them have lived in the BVI from early childhood. Attended primary and high school in the BVI. Worked and contributed to the BVI. Some are now 40 years old or 35 years old. No police record and even have children born in the BVI. Just so you know the native BVI Islander numbers are not enough to stimulate the type od development needed in this century and beyond. If all the foreignors leave who will landlords rent to, who will stores sell to. Peopke migrate because of their aspirations for a better life and status is part of those aspirations. No man is an island.
Just Someone That Cares About The Island. BelongeeI would like to ask the person that wrote this petition. Where were you after Irma did you stay or did you run away to the US or England. One of the many countries that have choosen to share their country with us Belongers. Whilst so many so call belongers were running away. So many expats stayed behind to rebuild the island along side the true people of the islands. So get off you high horse and let those people that help build this island stay and become one of us. 15yrs is crazy. It should be 5 yrs.
not2sureWe know who is petitioning and lobbying. It is the same "old guard" who believe no one should be allowed to vote unless their great grandfather and every generation since was born here. Our message should be that people who contribute to this country are welcome here. Not: privilege is a matter of birthright for a select few.
AngieI am concerned about this government. They are going too fast, I can't keep up with them. I am still here waiting on a phone call from the Housing Assistance Program to get housing recovery assistance. I am still homeless, unemployed, and was told the Premier is not taking any walk-in or scheduled appointments, so who is there to talk to. My district representative is not responding to my calls. What is going on. Can I get back my vote? There are so many labor and immigration issues out there that needs to be addressed, for example, there are many persons residing in the virgin islands working here for multiple years and not following the labor or immigration laws, so how can someone come and apply for residency and are not living by the code? They are not paying their social security, NHI nor taxes under their relevant employers. Some persons are freely working where they chose to work knowing that they are illegally working under different or multiple employers. These are the people that can come in and expect residency? I still don't fully understand how this residency thing works. I guarantee you right now, you show up on any project, whether its a government contract or private project, there are people working under these projects that have no authority to be working or even staying in the virgin islands, and I speak from my own personal encounters with these people. What is going on with this Government? Have I been bamboozled into voting? Have I been scammed? Can I have back my vote? I don't think I would want to ever vote again. Nobody came and asked my opinion on this so called PRIORITY.
Doesn't my vote allow me to be able to make decisions on behalf of my country? What is happening to our country? Why am I still homeless? Is another hurricane going to have to come for me to get assistance for my home? What is your priority government? WOW!!!!!!!
Bear In Mind...That everyone who applies will not be approved. I don't expect domestic workers or transient/ seasonal workers to be granted status under this initiative. Im sure criteria like some level of material investment in the BVI along with some sort of position of influence or charitable acts will be first on the list of requirements for eligible candidates. There is a reason the application fee in this initiative is "refundable". Usually you don't get your money back if denied.
WhyBVIslanders feel treated and left out? I don’t understand this. Is there some sort of status they are missing why they feel left out (do they want Belongership too?)?
And as for treated, these people are already living here, working here, being productive members of society. The population is not going to increase. Why not give them status.