October 25, 2020

Boy born here to Bermudian parents denied status


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Bermuda_passportBy Sam Strangeways From The Royal Gazette

A Bermudian mother’s six-year-old son has been denied Bermudian status, preventing her going overseas to study.

A six-year-old boy born on the Island to Bermudian parents allegedly as the result of a rape has been refused Bermudian status by the Department of Immigration — leaving him stateless and unable to travel.

The child’s unemployed mother wants to go to university in the UK in January to study nursing, but her son has been denied a passport and travel documents, meaning she has no option but to stay in Bermuda.

The 25-year-old woman told The Royal Gazette: “I filled out the passport forms first and they told me he wouldn’t be qualified for any status until he goes 18. I don’t understand why.

“They told me [initially] that I can get travel documents but he would not be qualified for Bermudian status until he’s the age of 18. Now they are saying he can’t get travel documents. He goes to school. He’s a regular Bermudian child, born at King Edward Hospital, so I don’t understand.”

The woman, who was born overseas in 1988 to a Bermudian father and non-Bermudian mother, has lived here since she was a young child.

She applied for Bermudian status after her overseas passport expired, but was told she did not qualify to be a Bermudian. After hiring a lawyer, she was eventually granted Bermudian status last year.

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, alleges that she was raped by a Bermudian man when she was 19, resulting in the birth of her son in 2007, before her Bermudian status was granted.

She has since married a Bermudian and had another child, a girl, with her husband. Her daughter, the little boy’s younger half-sister, has been given Bermudian status.

The mother said the Department of Immigration told her that because her son was born out of wedlock, he had no right to status.

“My husband considers him as his son. I asked if I changed his name by deed poll, would it make a difference. I said what if he gets adopted by my husband. They said it wouldn’t make a difference.”

The woman said she wanted to speak directly to Home Affairs Minister Michael Fahy to tell him that the Department’s decision was preventing her from improving her job prospects and helping to make a better life for her family.

“I want to further my education,” she said. “I have been stuck here for so long, I think it’s time for me to try to do something with my life, so that’s what I’m trying to do.

“I have applied to college and I’m waiting to hear back about my place. I want to hopefully become a doctor in paediatrics eventually. This would be a stepping stone.”

She added: “I’m supposed to leave in January but I guess I’m not going.”

Her difficult dealings with the Department of Immigration are not the first she has suffered. She said it took a long time for her to get Bermudian status and, until it was granted, she too was prevented from travelling.

“I haven’t travelled or been able to go anywhere. I was in [care homes] and foster care. I could never travel because I didn’t have any documentation. I have spent my whole life here. I don’t even remember [my birth country].”

The woman claimed she also had trouble getting married, with Immigration officers grilling her and her fiancé about whether their union was genuine or for status purposes.

Asked last week for comment about the six-year-old boy, Senator Fahy said: “I will need to look into this.”

A Home Affairs spokeswoman told this newspaper today: “The Ministry of Home Affairs views this matter as a very sensitive one and, as such, our comment is limited. However, the Ministry can confirm that the Department of Immigration is working with the mother to find a suitable resolution to the matter.”

The Government’s latest Throne Speech, delivered earlier this month, pledged to “provide pathways to Bermuda status for persons born in Bermuda or persons who have been adopted by Bermudian parents” in order to conform to human rights obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

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