That’s because more than a hundred immigrants, who have been living in Belize for a period of time, went in to get their final documents signed before they are integrated into the Belizean family. We caught up with some of the soon to be Belizeans as they waited outside the immigration department. Johnny Duarte, a Guatemalan national, has been living in Belize for over 21 years. We spoke to him a few minutes before he became a Belizean and he expressed his excitement.
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “Do you like Belize?”
New Belizean Citizen: “Oh, wow, yes, I like it, including the tourist places and mostly, I like Benque because there I have lived; that little town saw me grow up and everything”.
The official swearing in ceremony took place at 2:00 pm at the George Price Center earlier today. The Commissioner of the Supreme Court Edmund Zuniga, accompanied the new Belizean Nationals as they recited their oath.
The Minister of Immigration Hon. Godwin Hulse aided by CEO Candelaria Saldivar-Morter distributed the nationality certificates:
Husband of Honduran National: “Well, I am very excited that she is ver y excited that she is getting her nationality!”
Reporter Emanuel Pech: “Well, I get really happy to get the nationality!”
According to Minister Hulse, part of that back lag was the infamous passport scandal involving Ex Minister of State Elvin Penner.
Interview with Senator Godwin Hulse- Minister of Immigration
Senator Godwin Hulse: “They were a hundred and three”.
Reporter: “Can you tell us about the process that you guys had to get to this swearing in for these hundred and three?”
Senator Godwin Hulse: “Actually, as you know, when we passed the law which came into effect in January 6th of this year, (the new Immigration Law), we had to build in a clause to deal with people who had been in the process before. So, many of the people who were sworn in today, are people who had their certificates signed by previous ministers, but they were never sworn in. So, we had to do that and basically, today, I was dealing with a lot of the backlog of people who’s files have been there for a long time and they have been saying, when will we swear in? So, it is a tremendous effort in the part of the department to get this all organized so that these people can be sworn in. Some of them have been in Belize 10 and 15 years already and being a permanent resident rather than getting a nationality. So, that was the process today.
As part of a new law, Hon. Godwin Hulse says that the names of these new Belizeans will be published in an official government gazette.