The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was actually established in January 1956 following the passage of an Act by the Liberian Legislature in 1955. As a Para-Military organization, it is a component of the Ministry of Justice charged with the responsibility of enforcing the aliens and nationality law of Liberia. In so doing, it forms an integral part of the joint security commission of Liberia, working in collaboration with other security agencies such as the police, military, among others.
Among its duties are the scrupulous enforcement of the new alien and nationality law of Liberia, control and guard the boundaries and borders of the Republic against the illegal entry of aliens, examine, admit, if legally tenable, aliens into the country and if so desire by the aliens, grant such alien residence status, as required by law, as well as monitor and regulate the movement of aliens entering and residing in the country, board and search vessels, aircraft, railway cars or other vehicles in which it has reason to believe that aliens are being brought into Liberia.
In view of the foregoing, many Liberians seem to be very apprehensive about the operations of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization over the past seven years, especially when it comes to travelling through border posts and check points within the country. Where is the alien and nationality law of Liberia? What has actually happened to the law, that every Tom, Dick and Harry is in Liberia as some kind of business man or woman, or “push-push man” or just some kind of business ‘investor’? Where has it been placed-at the back of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization? How are they entering the Republic of Liberia? These are a few questions currently on the lips of many Liberians which need redress.
With the very high concentration of aliens, crime rate and drug-trafficking in the country, eye-brows continue to be raised at the ability and capacity of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization to restore sanity to the nation. Vices such as weakness, complacency and extortions/corruption on the part of those tasked to ensure the enforcement of the alien and nationality law of Liberia may be the attributing factors.
Despite the security sector reforms undertaken by the Ellen administration in collaboration with the international system, the sector seems to be far from improvement and betterment as evidenced by the attitudes of enforcers/implementers of the laws. How the dangerous drugs are entering Liberia is anybody’s guess; even the high concentration of aliens in the country, most of whom are un-documented is yet to be addressed by the Bureau of Immigration, something that is of serious concern now among Liberians.
It is an open fact that the vigor which characterized the operations of the Bureau has completely diminished for the last seven years. Whether that has to do with the lack of adequate budgetary support or not; whether or not it is the result of the failure on the part of the authorities to motivate border officers and guards or even those at the various checkpoints within the country, Liberians are yet to understand.
Driving/riding through the border posts and checkpoints, including Mount Barclay, Kakata, Salala, and Gbarnga, as well as experiencing how Immigration and other officers conduct themselves in a day’s tie would just corroborate the issue being raised. The Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization must be made to return to its statutory duties and responsibilities, and if those who (authorities) must ensure such execution/implementation are professionally incapacitated, there must be realistic administrative reforms devoid of all forms of sentiments.
Unless something is done at the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia will continue to and may even experience the worst of all crimes, including broad day armed robbery, hijacking, drug trafficking and abuse, etc., etc. due to the influx of un-documented aliens. But Liberians still need to know the whereabouts of our Alien and Nationality Law from their government.