In March government successfully amended the Immigration, Belizean Nationality, and Passports Acts. The aim was to split the Immigration Department into two, one section will be responsible for granting nationality and passport, while the remaining half will deal with immigration and border management. Since the amendment, the Ministry has been steadily implementing the change. Minister of State responsible for Immigration, Beverly Williams, provided an update.
Minister of Immigration Beverly Williams: This is just the establishment of the positions and the Ministry of the Public Service is looking at those position in terms of creating them so we can then adequately transfer persons into those positions and for the process the begin. We are already set up into those structures, it’s just for the appointment of the persons now and they have agreed with us in principle for those appointments because of the formalities we have to look at the structures and the organization chart and so they have agreed, it’s just the recommendation to the different levels with the government. The Ministry of Finance has to give its funding for it, the public service has to make its recommendation after working with us in terms of determining yes this is the right structure, let us move forward and basically it is hopeful that we will be able to free up some of the immigration staff, to look at border issues, exactly what we spoke about today porous our borders are and having them so open that people can just come on in and then we end up with the refugee crisis so its linked in some aspects.
Reporter: Is the staff on board with that split?
Minister of Education Beverly Williams: I don’t know that people will always be receptive to change but the management and I would want to say about 95% of management understands and are well on board. As I said the two structures are being set up, there is not much of setting up in the immigration services side but on the passport there will be new staff and so setting up their structures, creating that department, putting in their own policies, looking now at some of the process flows and how that could bring efficiency, that is well on the way, it’s just as I said the formal establishment looking now at some of the process flows and how that could bring efficiency. That is well on the way just as I said the formal establishment of the positions so people can legally operate within those structures.
PUP Senator Eamon Courtenay said the amendment allows fraud to be perpetrated in the Immigration Department. Prime Minister Dean Barrow responded saying that the assertion is political babble.