This is the best way to close the population gap
Anyone that follows my articles knows that I am a strong advocate for extending citizenship to TCI diaspora beyond the current state. The population of the Turks and Caicos is unique compared to many other countries in that less than 1/3 of the population is not locals therefore the locals are outnumbered. The workforce has about 20,000 jobs and approximately 7,000 are occupied by Turks and Caicos Islands. Even if the Turks and Caicos Islanders that have migrated to the UK decide to return home, we will still have a significant gap. However, we have thousands of Turks and Caicos Islands and their descendants living abroad in the Bahamas and the USA and so we should encourage and promote them to live and work in the Turks and Caicos Islands and so I support the initiative by the Government to extend the citizenship to great grandchildren.
Based on the Turks and Caicos Islander Status Ordinance 2015, one of the current pathways to citizenship in TCI is if a person is born outside of the TCI and one of the parents has TCI status and at least one of the parents or grandparents was born in TCI.
Other ways to obtain Turks and Caicos Islander Status Ordinance is through acquisition by grant. Acquisition by grant can be obtained through
- A British Overseas Territories citizen or a British citizen has a permanent residence certificate for at least 5 years
- A British Overseas Territories citizen or a British citizen has been legally resident in the island for a period of 10 years
- A person’s spouse has status and has been married for 10 years and living in the islands for 2 years.
- A dependent child whose parents were legal in the country, a person who has acquired British overseas status, a person who has been legally in the islands for 10 years and is 18 years old.
I am aware of many great grandchildren who reside in the Turks and Caicos but they cannot get Turks and Caicos status because the law stops at the Grandparents. I don’t think this is fair as these great grandchildren share the same culture as us and are related to us. How is it that a child who has no connection through roots with Turks and Caicos can acquired status through their parents who has British Overseas Territories citizenship but the great grandchildren who has roots with the Turks and Caicos cannot acquired status. These great grandchildren were told they need to get a freelance work permit to work legally in the country. Some of these great grandchildren went to elementary and secondary school here and then they went away to pursue tertiary education and when they try to return to the country, they cannot live and work here freely because they do not have Turks and Caicos Status. This is a big problem and so I am happy that the Government is addressing this issue by extending this to great grandchildren.
Citizenship by birth should not be automatically granted
I like our current law in that it prevents automatic citizenship to individuals that are born here. I know in America, if you have a child there, that child automatically becomes a citizen. I know Trump tried to reverse it but was not successful. Canada used to be same way, however, a baby born in Canada is not automatically a citizen.
The Turks and Caicos must protect its heritage and should not grant automatic citizenship to babies born here. We are a small place, and we are already outnumbered and if we give everyone citizenship who were born here, we will further widen the gap. I am not xenophobic, but I am very patriotic and concern about the future landscape of our country. If we were to grant automatic citizenship by birth, we will encourage more people to come here and have their babies. Is that what we really want? I want to see more Turks and Caicos Islanders and their descendants, and this can happen by extending the citizenship to them.
The Haitian Constitution
I know there are over 99 nationalities in the Turks and Caicos Islands, but the Haitians make up most of the nationalities here, so I want to discuss their constitution. Under the Haitian Constitution, citizenship is obtained by descent or naturalization. Therefore, when a child is born in Haiti, that child is not automatically a citizen of Haiti. You must have a Haitian father or Haitian mother who are native born Haitians and have not renounced their nationality to get Haitian citizenship.
Therefore, if a child is not automatically granted citizenship by birth in Haiti, then why should the Turks and Caicos Islands Government grant automatic citizenship to children born of Haitian parents. Obviously if one of the parents is a Turks and Caicos Islander, then that is a different story as that child can become and should become a Turks and Caicos Islander but if none of the parents are Turks and Caicos Islanders, then automatic citizenship by birth should not be allowed.
Encourage the TCI Diaspora to fil the gap
Our country continues to grow at a rapid rate. We do not have enough local people in the Turks and Caicos to fil the job market and as a result we must get work permit holders and there are also a lot of illegal workers in the workforce.
I know for a fact it is a challenge finding local people. I went to an establishment the other day and this establishment is short of staff. I was also looking for an accounting staff and it was a challenge finding local accountants.
If we do not encourage and promote the TCI Diaspora to return home, the gap between locals and non-locals will continue to widen. This gap can be reduced if we encouraged and enticed TCI Diaspora to return home. Don’t let us drive people away by making derogatory remarks about their place of birth. Wouldn’t they be the best people to fil the gap? Some of you may be comparing this new initiative with that of the laws of the Bahamas. Most people in the Bahamas are Bahamians, most people in America are Americans but most people in the Turks and Caicos are not Turks and Caicos Islanders.
We have a serious problem in our country in that most of the people residing in this country is from one country and it is not Turks and Caicos. Isn’t that a threat? Shouldn’t we try to lessen this threat by encouraging more of the diaspora to come here and therefore less need for work permit holders and illegal people.
If there are 20,000 jobs in this country and Turks and Caicos Islanders can only occupy 7,000 of these jobs, that is a problem so let us encourage our people to come home.
If we have a population of 40,000 and less than 10,000 are Turks and Caicos Islanders, that is a problem. Furthermore, it is estimated that 3,000 have migrated to the UK.
Therefore, the best thing to do is to extend the franchise to the Disapora and encourage them and welcome them to the Turks and Caicos. We can close this gap. Well done TCIG on this proposed initiative.