In the last Sitting of the House of Representatives, Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, listed off names of persons who had reportedly received Belizean nationalities despite possessing criminal records and ties to Central American gangs. The names were a part of an audit of the Immigration and Nationality Department from 2011 to 2013. Today, Love News caught up with the CEO in the Department, Edmund Zuniga, who explained that there should be a vetting process before a person is granted their nationality.
Edmund Zuniga, CEO, Department of Immigration and Nationality: “Well first of all I’m sorry I did not hear- I was not able to listen to the House meeting or the Senate meeting however as we keep mentioning our laws have changed, our processes have changed. For a person to become a Belizean he has to be here at least one year prior to becoming a permanent resident and in order to move from being a permanent resident to a citizenship that person has to be here for at least five years before he can apply. A part of the application process is getting his documents by a special branch in Belize and so…”
Reporter: And so that vetting by special branch is expected to basically see if they are wanted by INTERPOL or wanted by any other country abroad?
Edmund Zuniga, CEO, Department of Immigration and Nationality: “That is correct. I’m not all that privy to special branch processes but yes they have contact with INTERPOL.”