Tuesday, April 16, 2024

BRS Area Representative supports amnesty program


A campaign promise, an amnesty program designed to legalize undocumented immigrants in Belize, is expected to start in 2022. An estimated 40,000 irregular immigrants (men, women, and children) will benefit from this program. In the constituency of Belize Rural South (BRS), Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker Area Representative Honourable Andre Perez supports this initiative and advised those living on the islands with irregular immigration status to stay tuned for updates on this upcoming program.

Under the People’s United Party (PUP), the government said the amnesty program would better regulate the number of people with legal status. The initiative will help the government provide resources efficiently to some country regions. With more legal residents, it also means that more people will pay taxes contributing to the national government revenue. On the Cayes, there is a large population of immigrants from Central American countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador who may be undocumented among other persons from other nationalities. The Honourable Perez said he fully supported the program and was one of the ministers in government pushing for it. “We have so much in common with Central America; it is the right thing to do, it is the humane thing to do and subscribe to that philosophy,” said Perez.  According to him, his party believes in helping everyone, regardless of where anyone comes from. If the people are already in the community, there is an obligation to work along with them.

Perez explained that some undocumented immigrants have already integrated into Belizean society. They have children born in Belize, Belizean spouses; thus, an amnesty program is a solution to regulate their legal status. Perez stressed that it is not a political move but a program necessary to address the immigration matter.

What are the requirements?

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, registered asylum seekers automatically qualify. Irregular immigrants who have resided continuously in Belize for five or more years also qualify. When applying, an identification document with a photo such as a passport is highly encouraged to have on hand. Other conditions considered are those with Belizean children, persons who may have completed primary and or secondary studies here, and those married to a Belizean for at least one year or in a common-law union with a Belizean for a continuous period of five years or more. Any person who has resided in foster care homes and recommended by the Ministry of Human Development can also qualify. People that have maintained gainful employment in the country for at least five years can also apply to change their immigration status in Belize.

The amnesty program will start in January 2022. The government is working on the project logistics and will be dissipating information as this is available to the public. This is the second amnesty program held in decades. The last amnesty took place in 1996, under a PUP government headed by former Prime Minister Said Musa.

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