Protesters outside the House of Assembly in Bermuda
By Caribbean News Now contributor
HAMILTON, Bermuda -- Bermuda’s House of Assembly was closed down on Monday after legislators were locked out by protesters who formed a cordon around the building in a continuing protest against the government’s proposed immigration legislation.
The legislation, known as the Pathways to Status initiative, has been introduced to provide more permanence to guest workers who have met minimum threshold limits of residency in Bermuda.
The government introduced the Bermuda Immigration and Protection Amendment Act 2016 to open the door for long-term guest workers to gain permanent residency after 15 years and Bermuda status (citizenship) after 20 years but the plan has divided the British territory.
Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy has said amending the 1956 Immigration Act would bring Bermuda in line with the European Convention on Human Rights, generate revenue and help to address the decreasing labour pool.
The Bermuda Chamber of Commerce also supports the legislation, adding however that efforts must at the same time be made to address the social needs of the community.
Politicians were due to debate the controversial bill on Monday but an estimated 1,500 protesters, who stayed in the House grounds all day, demanded the bill be withdrawn.
Speaker of the House, Randy Horton, said that the House would reconvene on Wednesday.
Scenes from Monday’s protest: