Prime Minister Davis’s Remarks at Immigration Class Graduation

Hon. Keith Bell, Minister of Labour and Immigration

Cabinet Ministers and other Parliamentary Colleagues

Ms Cecilia Strachan, Permanent Secretary

Mrs. Keturah Ferguson, Director of Immigration

Senior Officers and Staff, the Department of Immigration

Recruit Squad of 2022

Parents, Family and Friends

Members of the Media

Good Afternoon!

It is my pleasure to address you, the Department of Immigration’s graduating Squad of 2022.

After four months of rigorous training, you brave young women and men have completed the training exercise and are today the newest recruits of the Bahamas’ Department of Immigration. Today, you are on display for the Bahamas to see—indeed, you have all come a mighty long way and ought to be very proud of your achievements. We are all here today to celebrate this milestone with you.

This is a historic occasion, and it is so on several levels. Squad 2022, you are the first Immigration graduating class of this administration with a class of 173 people.

You are the largest recruits assembled, nearly three times the size of previous courses. Most importantly, you are the first class to graduate under the leadership of our new Immigration Director, Mrs Keturah Ferguson. She is only the second female director appointed in the Department of Immigration’s eighty-three-year history.

Therefore, we have the highest expectations of every one of you. I wish to impress upon you the significance of Immigration Officers to our country’s sovereignty and stability. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard many times that you are responsible for protecting our borders.

As we look forward to the Bahamas’ 50th Independence Anniversary, your role is even more crucial in our nation’s history. We are fighting the perennial arrival of irregular migrants.

In 2021 there was a total of 2,815 irregular migrants repatriated from the Bahamas. So far, in 2022, there have been 2,390 repatriations. You are tasked with the enormous responsibility of curbing human trafficking, and you are also saddled with the task of slowing the traffic of guns and drugs throughout our country. Your work is essential. Your efforts and skills are indispensable.

With your vigilance and dedication to duty, we will be able to fight these plagues in our society. You have been trained— your skills have been honed. I urge you to remain focused. Refrain from being steered off course. We are counting on you to help maintain the stability of our nation.

Today you begin what I pray will be a fruitful and fulfilling career as a public officer. I challenge you to go beyond the call of duty in providing exceptional service to this nation, as your role is vital to the continued social advancement of our beloved country. Those of you will be stationed at our borders: whether at the airport here in New Providence or our Family Islands, you will be the first face of our tourists’ experience. Make it an extraordinary first encounter.

I encourage you to remain committed, steadfast and unwavering in your pursuit of excellence. That means that you must continue in your quest for knowledge. Pursue higher education. Become a lifelong learner. It will enhance your advancement on the job as well as your personal growth and development.

In the message in your booklets, I encouraged you to remain focused on the call of duty and walk in leadership. All who have risen to the top of the Department of Immigration and the Public Service have a record of continuous education– whether by academic degrees or certificate courses. I challenge you to do the same. Don’t put limits on yourself. Reach for your peak, your goal, your prize.

Your faith and endurance may be tested as you progress in your career. The long days and early mornings may exhaust you. There may be times of frustration. In those times, remember why you joined the Department of Immigration. Remember that you work in the interest of the public good. Remember that the Bahamas needs you.

You are part of the Department of Immigration’s responsibility “To regulate the movement of people across the borders of The Bahamas to ensure the security, facilitate economic advancement and promote the harmonious social development of The Bahamas through the collaborative efforts of responsible Government and non-government agencies both nationally and internationally.” This is no small task, but we are confident that you, the graduating squad of 2022, are up to the challenge.

Since 1939, The Department of Immigration has prided itself on its commitment to honesty, integrity, fairness and professionalism.

It is a long and proud heritage that you stand upon.

I congratulate you once again and wish you all the best in your career and life.

May God bless you all and continue to favour The Commonwealth of the Bahamas.