There is a an ongoing discussion among certain individuals that given the size of the population of the Turks and Caicos and the size of the voter registration, the franchise should be extended and enlarged to include others in the voting process. Some believe that 7,000 voters should not decide the affairs of a population of 31,458 for the Turks and Caicos.
Before I proceed let me say this, I am not xenophobic. In fact, I believe and promote assimilation, unity and cooperation among all residents of the Turks and Caicos Islands. However, there are certain privileges and benefits that citizens of every country are entitled to. Two of those benefits are the right to vote and the right to run for public office. With that said, I believe even if there are only 10 citizens and 100,000 non-citizens in TCI, then those 10 citizens should still be the ones to decide the affairs of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The Turks and Caicos has come a long way, from a poor unknown group of islands to a developing well known high end destination. Our local population has always been small, however, with the rapid development of our country, it was necessary to import labour. As a result, the imported labour has outnumbered the Turks and Caicos Islanders.
Work Permit Holders are Guests, not citizens
A work permit is meant to be issued to expatriates when an organization is unable to recruit a local to fill the role. However, a work permit is not meant to be on a permanent basis for the same individual. Work permits are issued for a specific period and a specific job and the individual is expected to leave the country at the end of that period. The majority of work permits continue to be renewed annually. These individuals however are not citizens, they are guests and therefore should not participate in our voting process.
A number of expatriates have made the Turks and Caicos their home and have qualified for permanent residence status. Personally I do not have an issue with any government issuing permanent residence status. I believe some people have genuinely consider the TCI their home and want to be able to live, work and move freely in and out of the country without any restrictions or interference from immigration. Like work permit holders, permanent residents should not participate in our voting process. I don’t know any country that allows permanent residents to vote so why should the Turks and Caicos Islands be different.
Enlarging or extending the voting franchise to non-citizens is a threat to the citizens of any country especially if they outnumber the citizens. Many non-citizens are already in control of the economic affairs of our country, so why should we give them the privilege of political power as well. Most of these non-citizens do not even assimilate or understand the needs of the citizens so why should we allow them to vote.
If we are already outnumbered, allowing non-citizens to vote and run will also means that we will be outnumbered in the voting process and the interests of the citizens will not be a priority.
While there are some individuals that truly care about Turks and Caicos, there are many that do not care and do not even call TCI their home. They still brag about their birth place (even though some have been here for years) and look down and make fun of Turks and Caicos Islanders. There is no loyalty and if there is no loyalty then why should they participate in our voting process.
Finally, most of the people in this country have another national status and when our economy begins to experience a downfall or recession, they pack their bags and leave. This is a threat and so why should we allow them to participate in our voting process and they will not even stick around to be with us during the “bad” times.
I am not aware of any country that allow non-citizens to vote. We might have one of the smallest population in the word but that does not mean we should extend or enlarge our voting franchise. Voting is a privilege that is reserved for citizens and must remain so.
I have a Scottish friend whose son was on a work permit in Canada for two years. At the end of two years, his son had to leave Canada even though he wanted to stay. If we were to truly enforce our immigration laws, then many of our work permit holders would be like the situation with my friend’s son in Canada. However, we are too lenient and people are now taking us for granted and now want to participle in our election process when they should have only been here on a temporary basis.