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May 9, 2016

The Story of Refugees and Amnesty in Belize

Beverly Castillo

Last week News Five delved into the story of local refugee slash amnesty program which has been in effect since November of last year, completely under the radar. We got wind of it through sources within the Immigration Department who were not happy with the way the program is being run. They told us that there is little or no vetting and that approval is basically guaranteed. According to our source, the hundreds of undocumented immigrants being processed each week are given some special legal status for three months to a year, no questions asked. So how could such a wide-reaching, comprehensive program have escaped scrutiny? Last week Minister of State in Immigration Beverly Castillo told us there is plenty of scrutiny in the process which seems to be an amnesty program under a different name.

 

Beverly Castillo, Minister of State, Immigration

“The refugee program is looking at those refugees with the reactivation of the refugee committee which has a wide cross-section of the Belize community – the Churches, the unions, the business community – those looking at persons who already live in Belize and were seeking to regularize their status within Belize and claiming refugee status. Now anybody can walk into that office saying they want…we will receive that application. That does not mean that the application will qualify, so I am not aware of any pre-screening or pre-approval within that program.”

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