More Haitians Coming to Belize
Belize is continued to be challenged by the inflow of migrants from other parts of Latin America and the Caribbean. This was galvanized by a report that as recently as Friday a total of 80 Haitians landed in Belize at the Philip Goldson International Airport. Reports also say that those Haitian nationals carried with them American currency – usually, 50 or 100-dollar notes tucked inside their passports. It appears to be a common payout to immigration officers, which guarantees the migrants free passage. But in the case of this group, the bribe did not work and those passports were confiscated and the migrants were detained. This development follows comments from Immigration Minister Eamon Courtenay, who explained that there seems to be an elaborate international network in which Haitians are smuggled through Belize to head north to the United States. Minister Courtenay insists that the Government is currently reviewing what measures will be put in place to stem the flow of Haitians into Belize. It is an international smuggling ring that the government hopes to disrupt. Last week, Minister Courtenay shared how elaborate the operation is.
Eamon Courtenay, Minister of Immigration: “We are satisfied that the vast majority of them – and again I don’t want to get into details but there’s a lot of intelligence that we pick up on these things, certain hotels, certain people picking them up etc , tell us exactly there’s a whole lot more information we have so we know. There are websites in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic, which I was speaking to Minister Alvarez about, advertising flights and how we get you to Belize and how easy it is once you reach Belize to go north. So the discussion I had with him was how we cooperate and exchange information and he asked us to investigate a couple things and report to him. So the answer to your question is we have good reason to believe they’re leaving through the northern border not the point of exit.”
Haitians, like other CARICOM nationals, do not require visas to come into Belize. We will continue to follow the developments on this front.