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May 16, 2018

Immigration to Produce Official Policy on Migration

According to local statistics, approximately as many Belizeans – fifteen percent – are emigrants from the country as there are immigrants coming to Belize from places like Central America. To manage the national response to this evolving issue, the government and International Organization for Migration (IOM) today signed a memorandum of understanding to begin the process of developing Belize’s first National Migration and Development Policy. As previously noted during the Senate Special Select Committee hearings last October, the government approached the I.O.M. and a steering committee was formed to begin the work in 2017. News Five’s Aaron Humes shares more details.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

As a Caribbean nation in Central America – with a splash of European, American and more recently African and Asian visitors – Belize sees many come to stay, while others go – and eventually come back. The new policy intends to cater to them all.

 

Diana Locke

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration

“Our geographic location enhances the arrival and entry of immigrants from neighboring countries by land, air and sea. our need for migrant laborers in our industries, family reunification, economic migration, persons seeking refuge, persons seeking a quiet, friendly haven, business persons, investors, skilled persons from the Caribbean region, as well as tourism visitors and those who choose to transit our beautiful country, all converge and add to the complex nature of migration in Belize. For the last thirty-six years, we have seen our population grow and change; we have seen our Diaspora become larger; and we have struggled with the fact that the country lacks a comprehensive migration and development policy that encompasses different aspects of migration governance, which integrates migration into the national development planning in a coordinated manner. Today, we welcome the assistance of the I.O.M., and our local key counterparts such as the Ministries of Economic Development, Human Development, Health, Education, Labour and many more partners in these discussions.”

 

Belize is unique among its regional fellows that, according to regional director for the I.O.M. Marcelo Pisani, as many people from other countries are moving here as are leaving. The policy is a chance, he says, to reach out to all concerned.

 

Marcelo Pisani

Marcelo Pisani, Regional Director, International Organization for Migration

“Belize is sort of an example for us in terms of migration. I was reading on the news this morning [about] the Mediterranean and how countries in Europe are closing their borders, and also the U.S. is having a different approach to migration. On top of that, countries such as Belize are thinking about to create a comprehensive policy on migration and being aware of more than fifteen percent of the country living abroad, and in terms of the region, on average this country has the highest average of foreigners living in Belize – fourteen point eight percent. So with this idea Belize is taking the lead in the region, creating a comprehensive policy that will include many of the entities in the Government, but also stakeholders – private sector, civil society, [academics] and so on.”

 

C.E.O. for Immigration Edmund Zuniga, deputizing for Minister Godwin Hulse, spoke to us about the priorities under the new policy, including review of the current laws.

 

Edmund Zuniga

Edmund Zuniga, C.E.O., Ministry of Immigration and Nationality

“Some of the priority areas will come out in the development of the policy. One of the components, for instance, is the legislative review. And that is going to allow us to have a clear look at the laws which govern migration in Belize and to see where there are gaps and how we can make recommendations to government as to how those can be amended. There’s also going to be as component of the development of the policy, a household survey and data gathering which will then allow us to have bases on which to make decisions.”

 

Aaron Humes

“And at the end, what do you expect the result to be? Is it just having this information there or will it feed into the work of the department?”

 

Edmund Zuniga

“Certainly, it’s going to feed into the development of the policy, and then we at the department and the ministry will be guided by the policy once it’s finalized and approved.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The policy will take up to eighteen months to complete.

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1 Response for “Immigration to Produce Official Policy on Migration”

  1. Fungus says:

    In a nutshell , we are preparing for the mass population explosion when the Guatemalans take over belize, and how to legalize belizeans as a Guatemalan..

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