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Jun 16, 2022

Amnesty Program to Begin August First

Tonight, we take a closer look at the pending amnesty program and what it means for undocumented persons living in Belize.  If you’ve lived in Belize since 2016 or before and have no documentation to show your immigration or nationality status, you might be able to successfully apply for amnesty in Belize. This will be the third such program, with the first held in 1984, and the second in 1999. There is now an estimated minimum of forty thousand irregular migrants in Belize and as of August first, the Government of Belize will begin an amnesty program.  The International Organization for Migration office in Belize has been at the helm in assisting and there’s a list of categories under which you might be able to apply, if you are one of those people in Belize. News Five’s Marion Ali has the details in the following report.


Marion Ali, Reporting

Perhaps you’re one of the thousands of migrants who have crossed into Belize over the decades, settled down and had children and have worked in the shadows to provide for your family. You’ve never been able to vote or claim Belizean citizenship because you have no immigration documents to declare your status. But very soon – in August, you’ll be able to apply for amnesty and if you’re approved, you’ll no longer need to hide from immigration authorities for fear of being deported. Head of the International Organization for Migration office in Belize, Diana Locke shared with News Five that there are actually eight different categories under which you could qualify.


Diana Locke

Diana Locke, Head, I.O.M. Belize

“The majority of persons who are applying under the amnesty are persons who have Belizean children.  Asylum seekers: persons who from 2016 or before came to Belize and registered themselves as asylum seekers, those persons are qualified. Those who are still waiting to be heard by the Refugee Committee, they have an option to participate in the amnesty. Those who have been refused and who never left Belize when they were refused as asylum seekers.   You have persons who are married to a Belizean, that is a category at this point in time which without an amnesty persons would have qualified.  Persons who have held valid work permits for five years or more; we have persons in common-law union.”


It is important for people who fall under these categories to seek asylum because when the phase is closed, the immigration laws will be more stringent, Locke advised.


Diana Locke

“Our aim at I.O.M. is to try to ensure that everybody is aware of this, that you take advantage of it. The government has said to us that when this process is over, they will begin looking at stricter measures and enforcement activities to ensure that people are complying with the laws of Belize and that we don’t get to this point again in terms of the amount of people who are here in an irregular status.”


Those who are in that irregular status can get the assistance they need, such as applying for asylum through I.O.M.’s office, which has been holding hubs in all six districts to walk people through the different processes.


Diana Locke

“We have been helping people to complete the application form. What that means for us, we have had to utilize our funds to actually print application forms to do electronic means flyers and message out there. We have basically set up an entire “assembly line” in the application process.  We have the Central American embassies that have joined us from time to time on the hubs where they offer information on where to obtain birth certificates for the countries, for passports or whatever is needed in the application process.”


I.O.M. has already offered assistance to over three thousand persons through the district hubs, with only the Cayo District left, tentatively set for July second and third.  Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.


Persons who are approved will have to wait for five years to be able to vote in elections in Belize and to claim Belizean nationality. Those who do not qualify for amnesty are assisted by I.O.M. to return to their country of origin.

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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