Barbados Battles With The Vexing Issue Of Immigration

BU readers must know by now that one of the pillar issues which we continue to write about is immigration. It continues to be a thorny issue facing the WORLD. The debate about the unregulated influx of Guyanese,Chinese, African and Philippines and others into Barbados continue to be of concern to Barbadians from every walk of life.

What is the big deal about immigration in the Caribbean and specifically, Barbados? It has always been with us.

Immigration is nothing new, after the emancipation of slavery in the nineteenth century workers had to move around the Caribbean in search of employment. In the twentieth century labor shifted from the smaller less developed islands to work in the oil refineries in the Dutch and US dependencies i.e. Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles, let’s not forget Trinidad which attracted many Barbadians in their energy sector. After 1980 many of the islands shifted focus to tourism and the domestic labor required in the industry had to be farmed from and other places. Immigration is here to stay!

What has changed?

Countries where many West Indians have historically traveled have enacted more restrictive immigration legislation in recent times. The growing focus on the importance of national security and the global economic crisis which slowed their economies in the 90s have been given as the two main reasons. What this has done is to make it more difficult for unqualified West Indians to enter developed countries. Many Barbadians are familiar with the saying that there is a Barbadian in every country of the world. Barbadians like many of our Caribbean neighbors benefited from immigrations and emigration in a significant way. However BU research has shown that despite tighter legislation controlling ports of entry, the push to drive down the cost of production has resulted in a growing demand for cheap labor. So to answer the question- What has changed? – Nothing has changed! Migration continues to be a global challenge with labor shifting from developing to developed countries in search of better opportunities. According to UN reports, over the last 50 years, the Caribbean, with a population of about 37 million has lost over 5 million. Migration data validated by the United Nations Population Division confirm that the Caribbean has one of the highest net-migration rates in the world, i.e. the annual number of immigrants less the number of emigrants, including both citizens and non-citizens.

Although immigration is nothing new under the sun, there are challenges which developing countries like Barbados must confront. After following the comments on the BU topic about the fear which Barbadians have concerning the large influx of Guyanese it prompted me to examine the topic of immigration in a much wider context. We have had Indians who came from the sub-continent and were tolerated by the society without the tension which currently exist, just check Swan Street and in recent times Broad Street. As a boy in the 50’s-60’s most Barbadians witnessed St.Lucians, Vincentians, Guyanese, Trinidadians and many other immigrants who visited Barbados to harvest canes and other projects. Many of those immigrants remained and have integrated seamlessly into the Barbados society. It was never my sense that Barbadians resented their presence. So the question, what has changed in 2007 to explain the public outcry at the influx of immigrants becomes relevant.

The first thing which comes to mind is  those workers came to Barbados and worked alongside Barbadians for equal pay. Most important the immigrant labor was adsorbed into the workforce and did not have the effect of alienating Barbadians. I think in this case the presence of Chinese and Guyanese labor has had the effect of reducing significantly the cost of labor across the formal and informal sectors. We must understand that if the corporate sector, because of the current competitive landscape, has now grasped the opportunity to improve profit margins by employing immigrant labor-there will be a social fallout. Two sectors which have visibly demonstrated a willingness to hire immigrant labor is in agriculture and the construction sectors. The Barbadian artisans displaced or who have to work for lower wages will still have to buy goods and services at prevailing high prices. The immigrants in comparison because of the economic circumstance from where they originate live in “mass” accommodation and have a minimal social life which they suffer themselves and are able to exist.

If we look around the world today it is no secret that many of the developed countries are looking to control the inflow of immigrants. France recently offered African immigrants money to encourage them to return from whence they came. Blair in England has implemented tighter immigration controls to restrict Eastern European immigrants, and to think these countries are all part of the EU! Bush is trying to push through guest labor legislation and we can go on. What is obvious is that all the countries listed are G8 members, which make them the richest countries in the world. Barbados on the other side of the coin is a developing and very small island. It must be obvious to anyone that any inflow of immigrants into a small island like Barbados must be controlled to ensure that the impact on the country can be managed in a planned way.

A study of the impact of immigrant labor in the countries of Aruba and Belize tossed up some interesting points. Barbados should take note:

  • There is a major impact on the social infrastructure of the country usually seen in housing, education, health services
  • The demographics will change__population will grow at a rapid rate, population density is a big concern i.e. the size of the population and the carrying capacity of the country
  • The political behavior of locals compared to immigrants will change

There are several other changes which Barbados can expect to follow a large immigrant population.

What is evident from the little research which we have done is that a country the size of Barbados must implement strategies to manage the challenges which immigration is sure to bring:

  • How will Barbados manage the flow of immigrants?
  • How should we treat the immigrant population?
  • What rights civil, social, and political should they be allowed?
  • Should they be assimilated or incorporated into the society?

“What BU research showed is that Barbados will have to manage the immigration issue as apart of a complex system of socioeconomic interactions within a broad scope of institutional structures.”

BU urges readers to take some time to understand the issue of immigration. We accept that many of the Guyanese immigrants although beneficial to the construction and agriculture sector, many of them are also unskilled and are placing a strain on the social services as well as contributing to crime, just read the newspapers on a daily basis. The Chinese and the Indo-Guyanese are clannish in their behavior which only heightens the distrust between Barbadians and these two groups. The tension which continues to escalate on a daily basis needs to be dealt with by our directorate and SOON.

Prime Minister Arthur at a recent lecture made the point:

CREATE a new enterprise culture, a determined effort by the richer Caribbean nations to help their poorer neighbours and a boost to risk-taking. Then add the movement of skilled and much needed human resources, reform of domestic business environments and the integration of Haiti to the mix and what emerges are the crucial elements needed for the success of the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME).


After reading the quote attributed to Prime Minister can we say that we have confidence that there is a plan to manage the vexing problem of immigration in Barbados? After all, the politicos are charged with setting the policy.

Related Stories:

Barbadians Are Afraid Of The Large Influx Of Guyanese And The Changing Face Of Crime

Caribbean Immigrants ~Beware!

Is The Projected Low Projected Growth Rate Of Barbados Linked To Arthur’s Liberal Immigration Policy? Middle Class Barbadians And Especially The Professional Women Need To Get More Children

Please note that BU used several sources on the Internet to attempt to tackle what is a huge issue for the world and Barbados.

4 thoughts on “Barbados Battles With The Vexing Issue Of Immigration

  1. Well done BU.
    I must say…in MY humble opinion,this is the most accurate analysis I have ever read on this topic.
    It is fair and balanced (sounding like Fox News now…aarrggghh!!).
    Many of us (yours truly included) find it hard to be always objective on the issue because of personal experiences..we are only human.what we do however try hard most of the time.With the statements you have made ,let us now have some serious debate.

    P.S Once again,I am impressed with this site,keep up the good work.

  2. Thank you for your insight into this matter. It seems that politicians are intent on making indigenous Barbadians feel like we are selfish for wanting to protect what our forefathers worked so hard to build. We are being accused of xenophobia! But what people fail to realize is that even though all of our population does not make good use of our educational system, God continues to richly bless most of us with a good sense of reasoning, and it is through reasoning that for the most part we are aware of the impact a large influx of immigrants-wherever they are from- will have on our tiny economy. It is not xenophobia. Maslow calles it self-awareness.

    As you rightly pointed out, the US is pushing legislation to control immigration, and this is the country that once said’give us your poor, tired an dyour hungry.’ We never offered any such respite and frankly we can’t handle what comes with large scale immigration.

    Believe me, Barbados as we know it will begin to lose its identity and a lot more of what made us unique will continue to be lost.

    Forget the political pandering and let us look at safeguarding what is ours with the appropriate legislation and controls.

  3. I have stated in my current piece after talking to people overseas who have done extensive research in the area of the impact of immigrant labor on societies, there are some strange trends developing. They know that schizophrenia exists among Jamaicans and Surinamese after living in the UK society for a period of time. In the US third generation immigrants have begun to exhibit health issues. The problem is they have not pin pointed the causes yet.
    <strong>BU </strong>also submits the theory that given the clannish behavior of immigrants<em> “inbreeding” </em>will take place. The resulting health issues will no doubt place a strain on our health services down the road. We hope the government is planning for the fall-out to unregulated immigration to Barbados.

  4. Immigration, is like every other damned thing that politicians get into in Barbados.
    A Weapon or a Pay day.
    What is it that makes you feel that Immigration, will be done any differently to any other item utilised by the Crap that “rule the Roost” to line their pockets.?
    From my experience these scum bags will just “use it” as they see fit.
    They are greedy and unenlightened.
    They see only monetary gain for them selves REGARDLESS of what the out come is for the country.
    Look at now when they are like lickspittles begging in Broadstreet.
    Allowing Chinese in Ad-Lib.
    Selling Barbados’s Rear end for shafting in later years.
    Whats wrong with y’all.
    Cant see Trinidad under yuh big noses.
    Run by Indian , Indian Guyanese and CHINESE.
    The Brothers relegated to menial “Gophers” 3 rd grade citizens.
    You think “Ras lickin Sandiford and Pimp Stuart ” give “one Fcuk”
    that your kids will soon be 3 rd class Citizens of(what was) their own Country.
    Not them, they busy “livin high of the hog” playin like they statesmen of the World not the “Igrunt low class niggers they really are”
    Selling their brothers into future Bondage.
    They ent to be around when the shit hits the fan.
    Long gone .Cashed in and retired.
    Your kids futures SOLD for cheap loans from the Chinese.
    Money that then, the political syphilitics, siphon off , by the million.

    What I read about contracts and 50 million to be covered.!!!
    By co-incidence by a SHIT tax that is just a cover , for another political rape of the populations funds.

    LOOK Y ‘ALL , Take notice. NOW.
    You have NO law. You have NO legal process protect you.
    You have a stink corrupt DPP Charles Leacock, who will toss you to the dogs.
    See your kids in bondage to Guyanese and Chinese.
    Start NOW,get rid of LEACOCK.
    Show his masters that you hold the power.
    Respect is EARNED not given.
    Earn yours NOW, by action.

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