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Dec 6, 2021

Amnesty to be Offered to Central American and CARICOM Migrants

The big news coming out of the Senate today was the announcement by the Ministry of Immigration that they are preparing to offer an amnesty program for Central American and CARICOM immigrants. The program would offer permanent residency status to the un-documented in Belize, creating a pathway to eventual citizenship. In 2010, it was estimated that over twenty thousand undocumented persons were living in Belize. A decade later, that figure has more than doubled.  This is not a first for Belize. There were two in the past, the first in 1984 when eight thousand undocumented migrants were registered.  Then in 1999, another integration exercise resulted in granting eleven thousand undocumented persons permanent residence. This latest amnesty is scheduled to begin in April.  Minister of Immigration and Senator for Government Business, Eamon Courtenay, gave details today.


Eamon Courtenay, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration

The underlying purpose of this amnesty is to regularize thousands of persons that have been residing in Belize illegally and to bring them into the official mainstream of the Belizean society.  These are persons who have made Belize their home. We believe that we should take steps to make them legal. Once legal, we will be able to have a more accurate count of our population. We will more accurate statistics for social and economic, and migration planning and policies. Let me be clear, persons who successfully apply for the amnesty will be given permanent residence, not citizenship. To qualify for citizenship, they must have permanent residence status for five years, and satisfy other legal criteria before becoming legal citizens. Madam President, the Ministry this week will begin its briefing and consultations with Ministries and stakeholders who will be involved in the Amnesty. Beginning in January, a massive information and education campaign will be rolled out to inform potential application of the amnesty and to inform the wider Belizean population of the details.”

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