Two weeks ago the Department of Homeland Security in the US announced that Belizeans will not be able to apply for H-2 visas. According to the US Government, Belize should no longer be designated as an eligible country because they are not meeting the standards set out in the regulation. This regulation is related to Belize’s ranking on the U.S. Department of State’s 2017 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report as a ‘‘Tier 3’’ country. The US Government says that Belize does not fully meet the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so. This, according to Belize’s Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, is a ‘cowardly’ and ‘hypocritical’ move. Today the media asked the Chargé d’affaires of the US Embassy, Adrienne Galanek, about it.
ADRIENNE GALANEK, U.S. CHARGE d’AFFAIRES
“There is a myriad of different consequences that can be taken and Belize to date has received waivers and this is the first year that there was some consequences to the ranking and so the H2, H1 Visas is one part of the implications for that ranking so I really urge the government and people of Belize to take trafficking in persons seriously. No one denies that it is a problem here and so really to work together. Not only the government but the people of Belize too, if you see something say something. If you see something in your community that is not right say something so that it can be properly addressed but over the course of Belize’s ranking there’s only been one conviction and so that speaks volumes to a holistic approach.”
The ban is for one year.