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Nov 6, 2018

Belize Hosts SICA Meeting of Migration Directors

As part of its pro-tem presidency of the Central American Integration System, SICA, Belize is hosting a gathering of government officials from across the region.  The meeting of Migration Directors focuses on a number of issues that are relevant to member countries, including the Central American migrant caravans traveling from the Guatemala-Mexico border to the Mexico-United States border.  Earlier today, a delegation was also led to the Belize/Guatemala border in Benque Viejo where they observed the crossing of dozens of Guatemalan students into Belize for daily classes.  Director of Immigration Diana Locke spoke of the experience.

 

Diana Locke

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration

“Belize is hosting the forty-seventh ordinary meeting of OCAM which is the Organization for Migration Directors of Central America.  It’s the first time we are doing it as a part of the SICA presidency and so today we are having the first meeting in Belize as a part of that SICA presidency.  We have representation from all the Central American and the Dominican Republic countries and today we expect to be discussing a number of issues looking at regional security, ways of cooperation between Central America and the Caribbean.  We’re looking at the OCAM alert system, we’re looking at the Cuban migratory policies that have changed over the years and how that’s affecting this region.  We’re also going to be looking at the mass movement of people, the Panamanian government is hosting a major event in 2019 and there is an agreement which we’ve all signed as to how we will handle the mass movement of people coming into the region through Mexico or through Panama and the other [countries] El Salvador, Guatemala and by extension they’ll be transiting Belize.  So we’re looking at that and then we have some open discussions this afternoon that will be dealing with the issues that we’re faced with right now, I think foremost would be the caravan.  But those are the things we’re hoping to cover today.”

 

Reporter

“And then this morning you made a special visit to the border.  Can you just tell us what happened there?”

 

Diana Locke

“Yes, the student crossing, the Guatemalan student crossing is an unusual occurrence in this region.  We have about six hundred students that are registered in schools from Guatemala, registered in Belize schools and we also have daily crossings of about four hundred and fifty of them.  The other one-fifty make arrangements by the week, the month, the semester to stay here.  And so this morning, we took the delegates out to have a look at that actual crossing which was very interesting considering now we have the new fence which make things a lot more orderly and so we wanted to expose them to that to see what happens.  They had lots of questions about the illegals.  We looked at the river crossing and that sort of stuff, so that was a short visit there this morning to give them an idea of how we handle a phenomenon like that.”

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