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Dec 18, 2013

Sparks fly across the floor as Immigration Bills go before the Senate

Mark Lizarraga

As we told you earlier, the Immigration Amendment Bill, the Belizean Nationality Amendment Bill and the Passport Amendment Bill were taken to the Senate for final readings and passage today. That resulted in over three hours of lively debate in which all senators not on the government side exhorted leader of government business Godwin Hulse to hold on to the amendments and take the time to get it right. There was general acknowledgment that some of the proposals were positive, but widespread belief that if not passed today, the measures could be reviewed, revised and strengthened with proper input and participation from the social partners. It was a lengthy session and so tonight we’ll only bring you some of the highlights, and Thursday we’ll bring you a more comprehensive package.


Mark Lizarraga, Senator, Private Sector

“How can we seek to repair weaknesses in a broken system without the benefits of any completed investigations? We have not seen, we have not heard, we have not read of any completed investigation to date. Why are we proposing basing laws to band-aid fix this broken system? A system filled with weaknesses so severe, mister president that it led to the firing by the prime minister of a minister of state.”


Lisa Shoman, P.U.P. Senator

“There was a big dump truck Mister President with its load tipped, throwing red dirt and stones on the holes in the Phillip Goldson Highway in a vain hope to patch the lunar landscape that has become the Phillip Goldson Highway. Well let me tell you something Mister President, by Monday afternoon, all ah di red clay mi done wash out, the stones were threatening to burst people’s tires and incredibly enough, the dump truck was out there again at rush hour trying to fill the holes again while people are passing by with one unfortunate fellow perched on top of the load trying to shovel it down. And one unfortunate fellow at the bottom on the street in a vain hope with one shovel; trying to fill the holes of the lunar landscape that is the Phillip Goldson Highway. Why do I say this? It is a metaphor, a simile if you like, for this piece of legislation.”


Mark Lizarraga

Lisa Shoman

“The new section ten-one (B) states that any person that has not been convicted of a criminal offense in any country with a sentence of twelve months or more; that this person Mister President may apply to the Director of Immigration and Nationality Services for permanent residency. Mister President we ask the question, how do we propose to verify this?  We can’t even tell if our birth certificates are genuine.”


Lisa Shoman

“Well let me get this straight. You are going to sit on the visa vetting committee and be allowed to recommend persons for visas? No man. At the very least, this law has to include a provision that none of these people on the visa vetting committee should be able to recommend anybody for visas. In fact, I am going to go further Mister President. I don’t think a single member of the National Assembly should be allowed to recommend anybody for a visa—and I mean all of us here and everybody in the House of Representatives.”


Godwin Hulse

Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration

“Ih no hidden no more man; ih noh hidden. The public is engaged in seeing who the new person we are welcoming into our family. The public of Belize is now engaged in seeing who we are welcoming into our family. Jack is applying; this is where he live, etc. etc. You got days to give yo comment and when yo done, jack get it. But the law goes further. Even with that ih say if you do it by fraud and all the rest, we could rescind. The point is it is made public man, which for thirty-two years was done in secret with all sorts of games surrounding this. So dot tell me we haven’t moved anywhere further. Yes, I admit it could be strengthened and yes, it will be strengthened. And if you give me honest, good, down to earth recommendations of how it could be done, we will strengthen and continue to strengthen until we get it right.”


Notwithstanding the protest and walk-out by Opposition Senator Lisa Shoman, the bills were passed this afternoon. 

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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1 Response for “Sparks fly across the floor as Immigration Bills go before the Senate”

  1. Beano for Deano says:

    Senator Docu Shredder is going to fix it all.

    Do the investigation of the corruption underneath him, perpetrated by his fellow cabinet members, declared a no-crime by Ali Babbarrow.

    This is the same guy who has the time to write the new sham laws before a public inquiry has begun.
    Correction, public inquiry not allowed, senate inquiry non allowed, house of lords inquiry not allowed.

    If the media was not covering this, these criminals would be sleeping better and stealing more confidently. But Belizeans seem tired of this, they prefer not to know or not have the courage to stop it.

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