By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
NINE Haitians were collectively fined more than $4,000 by a senior magistrate yesterday for either illegally entering or overstaying their time in The Bahamas.
Deputy Chief Magistrate Andrew Forbes fined Sonson Pierre, Wilmonde Fils-Aime, Altema Dorsainvil, Dodo Pierre, Jacquelin Pierre, Jean Mack, and Maria Corgelas $300 each for sneaking into the country. Their fellow compatriots, Milou Valcourt, Ulner Meance, meanwhile, were fined $1,000 apiece for overstaying in the country. The total sum of the fines is $4,100.
Magistrate Forbes ordered that all nine Haitian nationals serve one year in prison if they default on paying their respective fines. He also ordered the group to be turned over to the Department of Immigration to be deported upon payment of the fines and/or completion of the sentences.
According to immigration prosecutor Avia Beckford, Sonson Pierre and Fils-Aime were initially arrested by members of the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) for immigration purposes. Pierre was being held at the Elizabeth Estates Police Station, while Fils-Aime was being held at the Quakoo Street Police Station.
When questioned by immigration officers, Pierre admitted to entering the country illegally on December 4 of last year, while Fils-Aime snuck into the country in May of 2017. Ms Beckford said Fils-Aime did apply for a work permit, which was submitted but refused by the Department of Immigration on October 9 of this year.
Dorsainvil, Dodo Pierre and Jacquelin Pierre were similarly arrested by police for immigration purposes, and when questioned about the respective statuses by immigration officials, Dorsainvil admitted to entering the country by boat in 2013; Dodo Pierre admitted to illegally entering in February 2017; while Jacquelin Pierre admitted to illegally entering in October 2018.
Mack was also arrested by police for immigration purposes, having been detained at the Carmichael Road Police Station. When questioned by immigration officers, he admitted to entering The Bahamas illegally on a Haitian sloop in May of this year.
Corgelas, meanwhile, was captured by immigration officers in the Royal Palm Street area on November 5. According to Ms Beckford, while the team of officers was in the area, Corgelas, who was holding her five-month-old infant at the time, noticed them and fled. She was captured following a brief chase, and when questioned about her status, said she snuck into the Bahamas in May 2018 on an unregistered Haitian vessel.
Concerning Valcourt and Meance, Ms Beckford said that at around 9:22am on Monday, a team of immigration officers went to the Wulff Road Police Station, where they met the two men who had since been detained for immigration purposes. After the men said they had no forms of identification on them, they were subsequently taken to the Carmichael Road Detention Centre (CRDC).
Checks of the DOI’s various systems revealed that Valcourt legally entered the country on June 15 of this year on an InterCaribbean Airways flight from Haiti. He was given a seven-day visit by immigration officers, but was granted no further extensions. He ultimately overstayed by four months and 12 days, according to Ms Beckford. Meance, meanwhile, entered the country on a Pineapple Air flight from Haiti on June 29 of this year. He was granted a one month visit, which ultimately turned into an illegal three month and five day stay.
Shandeshia Marshall assisted Ms Beckford.