Despite warnings of “growing and sustained unrest”, an urgent motion on immigration reform by Progressive Labour Party MP Walton Brown was defeated in the House of Assembly last night by a vote of 18 to 14.

Mr Brown’s motion called for a bipartisan joint select committee to examine comprehensive immigration reform and report to MPs within six months.

The motion came just ahead of the Pathways to Status bill that was due to be tabled yesterday. Debate proceeded on Mr Brown’s motion after Speaker of the House, Randolph Horton ruled it was “a point of urgency” that must be “disposed of”.

Pathways to Status would allow anyone ordinarily resident in Bermuda for 15 years to become eligible to apply for permanent residency. Permanent residents ordinarily resident in Bermuda for 20 years will also become eligible to apply for Bermudian status.

The bill, announced on February 5th, sparked five protests within the past month. After several hours of debate a vote was taken. The final count 18 OBA MPs voted against the motion, 14 PLP MPs voted for it around 9pm.

The day’s proceedings went late into the night as the budget debate continued.