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Belize’s Amnesty Program to Move Full Steam Ahead

Belize’s Amnesty Program for an estimated forty to sixty thousand migrants in the country is going full steam ahead. The programme is designed to legalize the immigration status of the men, women and children who have been residing in Belize for a number of years. Minister of State in the Ministry of Immigration, Ramon Cervantes, appeared on The Morning Show where he spoke on the program.

Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration: “We have had estimates from the immigration department that there are at least forty thousand irregular migrants here in Belize. You know and this is backed also by other institutions like the UNHCR and IOM and so on. And these people the vast majority of them are interwoven in the fabric of Belizean society. You know they are – I saw it in my campaigns you know that you have a family where the mother or the father is an immigrant and the other spouse is a Belizean they already have three, four, five, six children Belizean born but yet the spouse that is not a Belizean remains at home, doesn’t’ feel safe to go out even to town like from the villages to the town because of their status. They’re irregular and they’re afraid that they get picked up and they have been living that way there are some for twenty, thirty, forty years and you know like I said they’re part of the Belizean society. They have adopted our culture and everything and they are here.”

Hiccups and challenges are being anticipated already, however, as only those undocumented migrants who have proper photo identification including a passport from their country of origin would be able to qualify. Minister Cervantes explained.

Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration: “For example registered asylum seekers they qualify. Irregular migrants who have resided continuously in Belize and we have yet to define a base here since when. Irregular migrants who have Belizean children born in Belize prior to 2020. Those that have completed primary and or secondary school in Belize and continue to reside in Belize. Those that are married to Belizeans for at least one year. Those that are in common law unions with a  Belizean for a continuous period of five years or more, and those that are children who have resided in homes or foster care and recommended by the Ministry of Human Development and those that have maintained gainful employment in Belize for at least five years. Each criteria has its set of documents that must be presented to prove that you have met such criteria.”

Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: But the amnesty doesn’t mean too you can show up and say ‘Look I have no documents.’ 

Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration: “No like I said they have to prove -“

Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: Well a document would mean a birth certificate for a child that’s what you mean ?

Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration: “Yes. A birth certificate but even so the older people need to have a photographic ID because anybody can take a birth certificate, birth certificates don’t have pictures so they need to be able to prove. For example passports and that’s why I’m insisting those people that do not have a passport and you fit one of the criteria go to your embassy, to the embassy of the country where you were born and apply for your passport and get it. There is time right now please do it, it will be quicker. It will be more efficient because the passport is the king of personal identification documents.”

Ernesto Vasquez, Host, The Morning Show: You’re saying from their own country ?

Ramon Cervantes, Minister of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration: “Yes, yes that passport. You know Americans, Guatemalans, Hondurans, Mexicans whatever please try to get your passports. It will help in the efficiency and effectiveness in getting the application approved.”