Posted: Friday, April 22, 2022. 10:29 am CST.
By Aaron Humes: In the wake of the March 19 Immigration bust at Maya King farms of 39 persons, 27 adults and 12 minors, either without documentation or as children of the workers, reports surfaced that four of them had managed to obtain police records and one of their handlers presented such to the police in Dangriga.
As explained by Channel 7 News’ Jules Vasquez, the regular police record – something the average Belizean often applies for – is distinguished from the special record given to regular migrants who have Immigration documents and supporting documents to show their continued status in Belize.
By their nature, irregular migrants who seek refugee status or asylum arrived here illegally and are not settled. In advance of the amnesty program due to start shortly, Commissioner of Police Chester Williams said such migrants, should they need one, can apply and the record would show, correctly, that they do not appear in Belize’s records despite having only gotten here weeks or months ago.
“It would be insane for us to ask an irregular migrant to produce a stamp to show that they have been in the country legally and so certainly we had to make adjustments in terms of the whole process of applying for the police record. Like right now, if a regular migrant would apply for a police record, the standard procedure still applies to them, but for the amnesty process, we cannot apply that same policy, because these are irregular migrants. The police record just simply says that the person is not in our system. So, this is not to say that you are halfway in and halfway out,” the Commissioner explained. As part of the amnesty progress, the Special Branch will vet all applicants and run their names through the Interpol database as part of ensuring that these regularized permanent residents, as they are expected to be, “meet the [Belizean] standard.”
The Commissioner added that the human trafficking aspect of the case is being pursued to the fullest and the Director of Public Prosecutions is observing and advising on the progress of the investigation and will make the final decision to lay charges if any.
Commissioner Williams insisted that his department is not “facilitating” irregular migrants, pointing out that the same would apply in the United States or other countries and that traffickers of persons do not usually hold a victim’s police record, but more often a travel document such as a passport. The migrant would have to authorize the handler to conduct the process for them and the handler is responsible for turning over the document to the migrant on collecting it.
Belize is estimated to have between 40 and 60 thousand irregular migrants at present with more trying their luck every day and four thousand seeking asylum or refugee status.
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