The Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) on July Wednesday, 17, 2019, held a one-day Alien Naturalization awareness meeting aimed at educating aliens and foreigners about the process of obtaining proper documents.
The engagement meeting brought together more than 200 foreign nationals from the Paynesville Red-Light area.
Attorney Asatu Bah Kenneth, LIS Deputy Commissioner for Nationalization, said the exercise was to educate foreign nationals and to ensure that the right things are done in line with the law.
The Deputy Commissioner believes that in keeping with the laws and regulations of naturalization, immigration officers, as well as citizenship and all other related matters, are the sole responsibility of the agency. “This is why we hosted the interactive engagements with foreign friends, specifically the business community,” she noted.
She said it was also necessary to engage members of the business community as of the importance of their being in the country.
“We understand the challenges most of you have. This is why we are here to interact with you. Therefore, it is an opportunity for anyone of you to ask the necessary questions,” Atty. Bah challenged the meeting participants.
Immigration Commissioner-General Robert Budy said while it is true that there are challenges that aliens face, many of the problems the LIS encounters nowadays come from the non-ECOWAS citizens.”
Mr. Budy, “We are a member of the Mano River Union (MRU) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries, so we have free movement of persons, goods and services. The intent is to promote trade and commence for all African states.”
He said there are other Africans that come to Liberia to trade, as well as to reside. Therefore, people need to be careful with the application of the alien and naturalization law, which the LIS has to enforce.
According to Mr. Budy, whatever is done here negatively counts tomorrow on Liberia, adding that the way we treat other nationals is the same way they will treat ours in their respective countries.
He henceforth reminded aliens to understand that the LIS is the only government agency that is responsible for the status of an alien or a foreign national. “Absolutely, no other agency has the authority to deal with naturalization-related issues in the country.
Mr. Budy however confirmed the presence of “bad apples” among the LIS, but called on all sides to ensure that they are rooted out.
It can be recalled that on previous occasions, the LIS held a series of consultative meetings with aliens and other foreign nationals from Montserrado, Bong, Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties.
Meanwhile, the engagement meeting is expected to continue in other parts of the country with aliens and foreign nationals on one hand and the LIS authorities on the other.