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Apr 11, 2018

7 “Bar Workers” Face Immigration Offenses

The Immigration Department has recently been conducting raids on establishments believed to employ persons who are suspected victims of trafficking in persons.  Over the weekend, seven women employed in four such different bars in Belize City and Ladyville were detained and on Tuesday, taken to court. While there was no proof the women were actually working at the bars, they were charged as prohibited immigrants after being unable to produce valid visitor’s permits or failing to comply with the conditions of their permits. A trio of Hondurans was read immigration offenses after being found at Fox’s Bar in Belize City.  Keiling Pineda Villafranco was charged, but presented documents in court showing she has applied for Belizean nationality and was released on bail by Magistrate Michelle Trapp. Mercy Sarai Galo Medina and Mabelin Guillen Mejia pleaded guilty and were fined one thousand dollars due immediately or in default three months’ imprisonment. Arraigned before Magistrate Kadeen Palmer was Joanne Lineth Rosa Morales; a mother of two, who failed to comply with the conditions of her visitor’s permit.  Despite saying she was only drinking at the bar and not working there, she pleaded guilty and was fined one thousand dollars. Salvadoran Edith Laredo Reyes of Ladyville is a mother of four and worked at Eruption Night Club and Bar. She pleaded guilty and was fined one thousand dollars and ordered to be removed from Belize. Honduran mother of one Jenny Villanueva Portillo was found working at Dream Like City Bar located on the Phillip Goldson Highway, Belize City. She was charged in court with the offense of failure to present a valid visitor’s permit but she presented her documentation as well as proof her child was born in Belize. The Department was not able to get a removal order against her since she said she wants to “get legal” and not abandon her child. Finally, Guatemalan mother of two, Ellie Quintanilla, charged with being a prohibited immigrant after she could not produce documentation, says she only came to Belize last week. She told the Magistrate that she was on the run due to alleged domestic abuse by her children’s father. Pleading guilty, she was spared removal but was still ordered to pay her fine or serve three months in jail.

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