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Jan 9, 2020

Is it an Indictment of the Immigration Department?

Beverly Williams

But are the events in the past two days an indictment of the Immigration Department, where the processing is to take place? Minister of State for Immigration, Beverly Williams says that the meeting on Monday was a forward thinking initiative to address the congestion at the department in regularizing migrants.


Beverly Williams, Minister of State, Immigration

“I will venture for us to take a census of the number of people. You know that our borders are very porous and border management and border security is a big thing for us. But it is difficult in a country like Belize where we are surrounded by Central American countries who are looking for a better way of life. We know there are economic migrants and they come here. You find them, you put them across the border, they are back so we are trying to ensure that we use the rules and laws to deal with those. But there are people here, who came here from at birth they are here; people who have acquired that status and did not know from 1981 and have been living in this country. And that is why you have these remote villages popping up all over the place—a Spanish town here, a Spanish town there—because coming from Central America, those are the people coming in. But I believe we have an obligation to national security, to proper border management, but we also have an obligation to those people to regularize them. When we do that, we improve the way of life for all persons living in Belize. I thought it was a worthy request. We are very proud and we think it is flagship for us in the U.D.P. and of course in public service when we saw the Honourable Hugo Patt with his mobile unit. Immigration does have a mobile unit, but as you know, we have an aging system and we don’t want to have any problems because we could have emulated that. But that is only for passports. Now if we sit with these people, explain to them that immigration does not have a big stick approach; we are not coming to get you, we really want to help you. If you are already embed in our society, you are already here contributing in some way or the other, let’s try and make it more positive so that you can remain in country and participate. Those that do not qualify will then be asked to leave. And I think people are afraid of us because everybody who comes to immigration, who have not regularized their status, they think that we are there to catch you in the moment. That’s not what it is about because there are many issues happening with families where they have children that were born here; they have been here for long periods of time. And so we are doing a regularization process. So rather than having congestion in Belmopan, congestion in, I thought it was a noble idea for her to have a sit and speak to them.”

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