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Mar 19, 2020

Immigration Dept. Cracks Down on Illegal Border Crossings Due to COVID-19

As you may know by now, Nicaragua and El Salvador recorded their first cases of the novel coronavirus late Wednesday evening.  As it stands now, Belize is the only country in the mainland Americas where there is not yet a confirmed case. And today, during the Ministry of Health’s third episode of the ‘Ask The Experts’ live webcast, the Director of Health Services was joined by a Director of the Immigration Department.  Deborah Baptist Estrada says that the Immigration Department is stepping up its surveillance at the illegal border crossings.  Those surveillance measures will see the participation of the B.D.F. and the Police Department. Estrada noted that it is important that persons don’t enter the country illegally, citing that El Salvador’s first case slipped through the cracks because the person didn’t enter the country through the official border points. The department is now calling on the communities near these illegal crossings to help be eyes and ears on the ground. She warns that using illegal crossings is punishable by law.

 

Deborah Baptist-Estrada

Deborah Baptist-Estrada, Director, Immigration & Border Management

“One thing that I want to reiterate and emphasize to the general public who traverses these areas, particularly on the weekends and the inhabitants of those areas around Jalacte in Toledo; Bullet Tree and Arenal in the Cayo district; Blue Creek and Santa Cruz in the Orange Walk district; Patchakan in the Corozal district and all other illegal crossings that we are aware of, we are asking that the public refrain from using those irregular means of coming or leaving Belize. It is an offence and publishable by law under sections twenty-four and thirty-three of the Immigration Act and we will apply the law without discrimination to nationality, race or creed. Belizeans in those areas are therefore being asked to report any illegal activity in and around those areas where these illegal crossings are.  We have had strategic consultations with the Customs Department; the police; the BDF and other stakeholders because since we have heard that in fact there are persons crossing those illegal points, we have commenced and will upscale our vehicular checkpoints and will have roving patrols and we will also have joint operation by the forces to deter any illicit activity and persons who may attempt to enter through illegal crossings as a result of these closures.”


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