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Get the Facts: Haitian Migrants in The Bahamas 2005

February 24, 2010

Yesterday, during our discussion with Leah E. and Anku Sa Ra, callers claimed that the Bahamian government has no idea how many Haitians are in The Bahamas, as no one has done the research to find out.

It turns out that this is not strictly true. Granted, statistics are thin on the ground. But they aren’t absent. According to the International Organization for Migration,

The migrant population in the Bahamas comprises mainly of Haitians who settle for work, while others are from Cuba and Jamaica. There is inter-island migration, chiefly to New Providence and Grand Bahama islands. Major countries of destination for migrants from the Bahamas who are in search of employment are Canada, United Kingdom and the United States of America. According to IOM exploratory research on trafficking in persons in the Bahamas, approximately 5,000 registered Haitian migrant workers are in the country, supporting 13,000 dependent family members. Also between 20,000 and 50,000 undocumented Haitians are living in the Bahamas. Migration statistics show that the majority of persons entering the Bahamas are Haitian children up to the age of 14, who apparently travel with a relative or parent. Despite all this, there are few quantitative studies on Haitian migrants according to a 2005 IOM report on Haitian Migrants in the Bahamas.

The Bahamas’ proximity to the US, Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba and other Caribbean Islands is a key factor contributing to irregular migration. Because of its close proximity, the Bahamas is used as a transit point by migrants and asylum seekers en route to the USA.

“Bahamas” – IOM

In 2005, a report was produced for the International Organization for Migration by a team from the College of The Bahamas to gather information that would help the government make tough policy decisions about immigration. Salient excerpts from it were published by Larry Smith in his recent article on Haitians in The Bahamas, but you can read the whole thing here.

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