Territorial At-Large candidate, Allen O’Neal, has said local lawmakers need to create a fair and inclusive immigration and labour policy that is free from victimisation and discrimination.
O’Neal, while speaking at a National Democratic Party (NDP) rally in the Second District last evening, alluded to what he said was a ‘One BVI’ concept the party intended to pursue.
But even within that policy, O’Neal said an examination needs to be done of how migrants are adapted to the society once the come to live in the territory, including instances where persons have lived in the BVI for most of their working lives.
According to O’Neal, one person he spoke with said he lived in Purcell Estate for more than 28 years but is only now able to vote for the first time at the upcoming elections this month.
“How could it happen?” O’Neal asked. “You know, the laws are there. If whatever amount of time that you have to spend in the country in order to get your rights, give the people the rights, once they pass that time.”
The political candidate said he has known too many expatriates who have been “suffering and falling between the cracks” because of what he described as a simple issue which has a simple solution.
“We have to be, not just using people and taking advantage of them as if they’re second and third class citizens,” O’Neal said. “In fact, they’re not citizens at all, because you haven’t given them any citizenship, so we have to correct this.”
O’Neal said he pledged to work tirelessly to see that the issue is addressed once he becomes elected.
O’Neal’s comments come even as lawmakers have embarked on a review of the territory’s policy on residency and Belongership and how it should be implemented after a Commission of Inquiry
) report found that the government’s existing policy has flouted that section of the immigration laws for years.
A previous NDP government introduced a policy where persons were only allowed to apply for such immigration status after living in the territory for 20 years, despite the law stipulating that persons can apply after living in the BVI for 10 years.