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Ethnicity and xenophobia: Immigration seeks to quell fears of further ‘latinization’ of Belize

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Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021. 8:58 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: A campaign has already begun on social media against the 2022 amnesty announced by the Immigration Department, filled with mistaken beliefs that migrants will pour into Belize ahead of next April to take advantage; steal jobs and opportunities from ordinary Belizeans; make Belize more like fellow Central American republics; and shift the base of power to rural areas and hand the ruling People’s United Party an edge in forthcoming elections.

Belize’s ethnic populations as of 2010 are 53 percent Mestizo, 25 percent Creole and 6 percent Garifuna, augmented by smaller ethnic groups and migrants from Taiwan, Haiti, West Africa, and elsewhere.

The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Immigration, Ramon Cervantes, Jr., said the Government conceives the program as “…[a program] for migrants, it’s not specific to any ethnicity or any person from any country, it’s for migrants that are living in Belize that are part of Belize, has been contributing to Belize and once they fit the criteria they qualify.”

As already explained, no beneficiary of the amnesty program will be allowed to vote in any election unless and until they have acquired citizenship which takes five years. Permanent residents, which those amnestied successfully will become, are not allowed to vote.

As pointed out by Debra Baptist-Estrada, Director of Border Management & Immigration Service, migrants are not a bad thing, and not necessarily only from Central America. There are migrants from CARICOM (the Caribbean) that will be included and counted as well as from Africa, Asia, and North America, and they come here for many reasons. They contribute, she said, to Belize’s “melting pot” of cultures.

And CEO Dr. Gilroy Middleton, in summary, noted that these are persons who are already here and contributing, and now are being regularized in their status to be officially counted and recognized.

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