Tens of Thousands of Undocumented Migrants Failed to Register for Amnesty Program
As for the Amnesty Program, which ended last month, Minister Courtenay explained that there are still tens of thousands of undocumented migrants who have not taken the opportunity to sign up for the program.
Hon. Eamon Courtenay, Senator for Government Business: “In cooperation with our partners Madam President such as the IOM and the UNHCR we have completed the registration phase of amnesty 2022 which we extended into 2023. Approximately 12,500 persons have applied for amnesty. We now move to the phase of analyzing the applications and to do the security screening and to approve those who qualify, who meet the requirements for the amnesty. Madam President the position is this. Based on all the data and discussion with our partners we still believe that there are tens of thousands of migrants in Belize in irregular status. They have not come forward and taken advantage of the amnesty for a number of reasons including one, fear they still believe that if they come forward they will be deported. Two, cost. They have just not been able to or do not believe that they’re able to meet the cost of the paperwork that is required to support an application. Three, Madam President, I want to put this diplomatically – it is in the interest of some people to discourage workers, migrants to regularize their status. When you have persons working with you who are in irregular status all their rights don’t have to accorded to them because they’re not on the books. Madam President it means that in those cases there was not an encouragement or a facilitation of some of those migrants coming to register. We are currently analyzing and discussing with our partners what we will do with respect to what we believe to be tens of thousands of migrants who are still in irregular status in Belize. Suffice it to say Madam President the amnesty will more than likely give regular status to in excess of 10,000 persons because not everyone who has applied will qualify but we much prefer to have those persons in our records and also regularized so that they can be accorded all their rights.”