It is looking like election time is pretty close. We say that because of the large number of persons who became Belizean Citizens today at a Swearing in ceremony late this afternoon. Unfortunately, just before general elections are called every four to five years, there is a rush by politicians to get the files in order for foreigners in their constituencies to gain their nationality and hopefully, they can get their votes. As the process started early this morning at the Immigration Building in Belmopan, many who stood in line told us that they received phone calls as late as after 8 o’clock last night telling them that their files had been processed and they should show up today to receive their Nationality papers; 8 p.m, that’s some serious overtime at the Immigration Department. In all, there were 213 persons, from 26 different countries, who pledged their allegiance to the country of Belize this evening at the University of Belize gymansium. We spoke to Immigration Minister, Hon. Godwin Hulse, who says that the Ministry has always maintained that this marriage between citizen and country should always be a transparent process.
Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration: In the ministry wants to make this a very transparent process. Joining the family of Belize is not a secret, it’s like getting married so we do it publicly. We acknowledge the people. Everybody will swear; they’ll sing the National Anthem; they will get their certificates; and of course this has been a long, extensive process to make sure that everybody who is sworn in today is duly qualified to become a citizen of Belize by registration.
Reporter: Sir, a lot of people that keep up-to-date with the news and the on goings of politics and whatnot, will look at this and say… They will ask themselves, “Is this the symptom of the presumed early elections?”
Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Immigration: Well, they could have said that in 2013, 2014, and now 2015, because if you look at the record we always have a September; this is the September one, so yeah, it’s not a symptom of anything. As you know, that a lot of people who were sworn in today, there’s a cut-off time for registration. As a voter, as an elector, and so, even some of the people who were being sworn in today, some of them were commonwealth citizens; and you know, commonwealth citizens can register to vote in this country without being citizens, so really not.
The Minister says they have been trying to clean up the backlog of people whose files have been in the system for some 3 to 5 years waiting to be processed. But whether hastened for a political agenda or not, for the 200 and add people who received their nationality certificate, it was an exciting time.
Reporter: Now tell us why you are here today.
David Reider, Belizean Nationality, American: Well, to get my nationality in Belize, and become part of the Belizean Family.
Reporter: Why did you decide to become part of this Belizean family?
David Reider, Belizean Nationality, American: It just seemed like a natural progression of events. You know, we came down here really not knowing what to expect, fell in love with the country. We’ve never left. We love it here.
Reporter: How long have you been here?
David Reider, Belizean Nationality, American: A little over eight years.
Reporter: This has always been a dream of yours?
David Reider, Belizean Nationality, American: Yeah, it has.
Josue Gomez, Belizean Nationality, Honduran: I’ve been living here around four years, but I came here before on vacation. My mom has been living here for around ten years now, so that’s why I came here.
Reporter: Why did you decide to finally get your nationality here?
Josue Gomez, Belizean Nationality, Honduran: I’m excited because it is, um….. They were open for more opportunities, jobs, learning different things, also the freedom that you feel in this country.
Reporter: How do you feel that your finally getting your nationality?
Abu Bakarr Sesay, Belizean Nationality, African: I feel excited, I very feel happy, because all the stress and ups and downs have been up and down from Belize to Belmopan to get this immigration. The feeling is very good.
Reporter: Why did you decide to come to Belize in the first place and get your nationality?
Abu Bakarr Sesay, Belizean Nationality, African: Well, I decided to come to Belize because I checked about Belize. I found out that Belize is a developing country, and I believe that I, when I come here, I can see my way through.
Reporter: Did you come here for the reason of mainly seeking jobs or what was it?
Abu Bakarr Sesay, Belizean Nationality, African: Well, I came here purposely to come and work actually, yeah.
Since updating the nationality laws in 2014, people applying for nationality go before a vetting committee to ensure they are qualified to become a citizen. According to the Minister, this is one of four swearing ins that they try to do every year: one in January, one in April, one in September and one in either October or November.