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#427021 - 01/07/12 08:06 AM 100s of immigrants become Belizeans
Marty Offline

100s of immigrants become Belizeans

Prime Minister Dean Barrow is on the record that general elections are likely to follow the March Seventh municipal elections. But from the looks of it, there is surely a lot of activity to signal that we are now in the political season and that the generals may be sooner rather than later. Aside from the drop in electricity rates and the Social Security loan write-offs to sweeten the pot for the electorate, the Prime Minister also begins a national tour this weekend in the Corozal District with stops in Chunox and Caledonia in the Corozal Southeast. Coupled with the attendance of U.D.P. standard bearers to cabinet meetings and the opening of elections and boundaries offices this Saturday, there is another telling sign. This morning there were long lines at the George Price Centre in Belmopan. Hundreds of new Belizean nationals were taking the oath. From one account as many as four hundred new Belizeans, mostly Central Americans, became new citizens. They were bused in from all over, and from what we gather, over a hundred and seventy are from the Corozal South East constituency held by Florencio Marin Junior who won the 2008 elections by a slim margin of sixteen votes. This is also the constituency where the PM will kick off the traditional national tour that precedes general elections. The swearing-in ceremony started this morning and continued all day and we are reliably informed that U.D.P. standard bearers were in the mix providing for the soon-to-be electors. Hundreds of other new citizens will reportedly take the oath next week. The next step is for them to register quickly to qualify to vote in both the municipal and general elections. The video was provided by one of our viewers.

Channel 5

#427047 - 01/07/12 09:33 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Amanda Syme Offline
Congratulations to my friends who are now New Belizeans. Get busy and sign up to vote. See you at the polls.

#427072 - 01/07/12 12:23 PM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Amanda Syme]
Mike Campbell Offline
All new citizens need to remember that you have a duty to your new country to vote responsibly. That means to vote for the best candidate. Usually politicians help with the citizenship process but that does not mean that the new citizen has any obligation to vote for the politician that helped him obtain citizenship. We welcome all but please help us have a better country by fighting this corruption which some see as attempts at vote buying. As elections are soon register to vote today!

#427295 - 01/10/12 08:24 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

New citizens swear oath

In Friday’s newscast, we showed you the video of hundreds of persons lining up at the George Price Centre in Belmopan where they took the oath to become new Belizean citizens. The rush to process and bestow citizenship on hundreds of persons is telling because municipal elections are just around the corner. And with the general elections imminent, it stands that the new Belizeans are soon be added to the voters list. There is also a report that four hundred and eighty additional persons will take the oath this Friday, at least that’s the plan being put in place by the Immigration Department. But sources close to News Five say that in the mad rush, a number of prerequisites for citizenship are being waived and that the letter of the law is not been followed. One new citizen told us in Spanish that he did not have to take the certain tests that form part of the requirements.

In the following video you will see the long lines at the George Price Centre, the busses, and U.D.P. political operatives, assisting the soon to be voters. According to our sources most of the new Belizeans are from the Corozal Southeast and Orange Walk Central constituencies. This morning the VIP, the Vision Inspired by the People, railed about the mass nationalization taking place saying that due process is not being adhered to and reminded government that the granting of nationality is a serious process for which due diligence and processes should be followed. The release says that one year ago, the VIP voiced its concern to the proposed amnesty of over twenty thousand illegal persons residing in Belize and called for due process to be respected and followed. That programme, which would have offered permanent residency, was shelved, but now there is evidence that citizenship is being granted to hundreds of persons.

Channel 5

#427299 - 01/10/12 08:31 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

VIP cries nationality improprieties at Immigration Department

A year ago, Vision Inspired by the People, voiced its concern on the proposed amnesty of over 20,000 illegal aliens residing in Belize. With hundreds of immigrants taking the oath to be new Belizean nationals on Friday, the party issued a press release to the media, expressing alarm about this process. The release says that the VIP is concerned over reports that the due process is not being adhered to in the recent nationalization of hundreds of immigrants which took place this past Friday. According to the VIP, they have been receiving information that the process, which normally takes up to a year, was done in 30 days. We spoke to Director of Vision Inspired by the People, Robert Lopez.

Robert Lopez, Director, VIP
Nationality is being given out in mass, in numbers that we are very concerned, but not so that than the due process we understand is not being followed. Normally this process takes six to nine months, or over a year or two, because we have talked to several people. So we understand from inside information that as little as thirty days is the present turn around time to get nationality. Off course, in may be a big push to get these people registered to vote, because you have to a Belizean to vote in the upcoming general elections. So to the government, have we really done the full investigation? There are persons that come here running from their country of origin or running from other countries that they reside in who have criminal records. There is no way that you can properly do the investigation of that person’s background within thirty days. So you might have a clean police record in Belize, but that’s not to say that you have a clean police record from wherever you originated from and you came here. So we think that this way of doing things can come back to haunt us seriously.

VIP says that the granting of nationality is a serious process and all due diligence and processes should be followed.


#427414 - 01/11/12 08:30 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Fraudulent addresses for new Belizean Citizens?

The deadline for the registration of new voters has been extended from today to January twentieth. And there is a mad rush to register to vote in March seventh election or the upcoming general elections whenever they are called which, according to the Prime Minister, is very soon. So on Friday, as many as four hundred persons, mostly Central Americans, queued up at the George Price Centre in Belmopan to take the oath as new citizens of Belize. Despite the hue and cry from the wary public, the practice of mass naturalization normally takes place before elections to pad the voters list. The contention has been that most of the new Belizeans do not qualify and that due process is invariably not followed in the rush for new votes. In respect of Friday’s swearing-in, most of the new Belizeans provided addresses in the Corozal Southeast and Orange Walk Central constituencies. We followed the trail to Orange Walk today where the controversial process turned outright scandalous when a homeowner called the media to report that several of the new citizens were registered at her address and that of her daughter’s in the San Lorenzo area. She has found out that applications in the names of Freddy Ixchop and Ana Maria Hernandez were submitted with her address while Rebeca Acuna and Francis Maroquin registered at her daughter’s address. Our News Five team was still with the homeowner when she received a phone call from someone purportedly offering to pay her three hundred dollars to keep the story quiet. That offer was rejected and the homeowner explained that she found out her address had been used when she got a visit from Elections and Boundaries personnel on Monday.

Voice of: Homeowner, San Lorenzo Housing Layout

“I got surprised because they asked me about four or five different people if they live here. And everybody in the neighborhood know that only me and my two girls live here so I was just surprised.”

Delahnie Bain

“How did you find out?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“I don’t want to call any names but when they came here they asked where are the people them and I said I don’t know. That’s how I got to know.”

Delahnie Bain

“Okay, but who came here though, people from Elections and Boundaries?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“Elections and Boundaries yes, and they asked me where are the people because they want to speak to them and I said they don’t live here; and especially so many and when I said can I see the paper, they showed me the paper and said but these people just got naturalized. They said yes and they said that’s worse because everybody in the neighborhood knows that only we live here.”

Delahnie Bain

“And I understand your daughter’s house is also involved?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“Yeah, they said also two or three people are living there and she is a single person so the only person living there is—she’s living there by herself.”

Delahnie Bain

“What made you decide to call the media about this?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“To begin with, because they have things like human trafficking and those people just got naturalized and I know that I could get in some trouble for it.”

Delahnie Bain

“So have you been trying to do something about this?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“Well I went to different people and asked for an opinion and they said the best thing is that you have to tell the truth so here I am.”

Delahnie Bain

“And have you gotten anywhere in trying to contact any officials?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“Well of course right now around this time you can’t get to the big fish so you have to deal with the small ones. Of course I am concerned because of course you know election is close so they are finding other people just to build them up you so they get naturalized because of the fact that election is close so of course.”

Delahnie Bain

“It might also seem like a political thing, like maybe you’re just trying to bash the government or something.”

Voice of: Homeowner

“Oh no, not at all. This is not about politics. This is about just being truthful and doing the right thing and they are not doing the right thing.”

Delahnie Bain

“Is there anything else you want to highlight?”

Voice of: Homeowner

“Well, I would just send this message out that other Belizeans, born Belizeans are out here seeking help but they’re helping other people who they think they can confuse but that is not right so do the right thing.”

The Orange Walk resident and her daughter will now sign and submit a declaration to the Elections and Boundaries Department, stating that they do not know any of the citizens who claim to live at their addresses.

Channel 5

#427415 - 01/11/12 08:30 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Once accused of same practice, P.U.P. wants investigation

The People’s United Party, which was also accused of the same practice before the last election, today issued a lengthy release on the issue charging that due process and the necessary rigorous scrutiny are being ignored on naturalization applications, and many of those persons who are being sworn in as instant Belizeans do not even meet the necessary criteria for citizenship. According to the opposition, not only are applicants reportedly obtaining nationality on the same day as the presentation of their application but in the case of some applications, the necessary documentation is incomplete, lacking and even simply unverifiable. Calling the ongoing exercise a reprehensible corruption of the laws, the P.U.P. wants an immediate cessation and a detailed investigation to ensure that all necessary legalities are met and due diligence is performed in respect of all applicants for citizenship and permanent residency.

Channel 5

#427542 - 01/12/12 08:14 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Mass nationalizations of immigrants before elections

There’s another hot button issue that is stirring up controversy. On Friday of last week News Five broke the story of the rushed naturalization-taking place in Belmopan. Hundreds stood in line outside of the George Price Center where they were sworn in and walked away with their nationality certificates. The process is facilitated to pad the voters list; the new Belizeans now have until January twentieth, prior to the upcoming municipal elections. On Tuesday it was discovered that the addresses of residents in Orange Walk were being used duplicitously to register new voters. While in opposition, the U.D.P. took the high ground and cried foul over the then naturalization of hundreds who became full-fledged Belizeans and ended up on the voters list. But now that it is in government, the U.D.P. has continued the practice. P.M. Barrow this morning defended the practice and said that the problem of fraudulent addresses requires the vigilance of candidates and their opponents and can only be remedied through the Elections and Boundaries Department.

Dean Barrow

“Persons who are being processed for nationalization, I am satisfied, are persons who if they receive their nationality certificate are absolutely qualified and eligible and deserving. In other words, I have every faith that the Immigration Department is doing all that is necessary and other authorities involved to ensure that nobody receives Belizean nationality who is not entitled to the nationality. Thereafter if politicians seek to get those newly made nationals who become eligible to vote registered in a particular area that is a matter for them and for the revising court. None of us is naïve; none of us is a fool. All the time people try to find addresses, candidates, in their constituencies for supporters of theirs that they feel will vote for them. As long as there is no double registration that really is a matter, as I said, between the candidate, the candidate’s opponents and the Elections and Boundaries process. Don’t expect me to stand here and to say to you that I get all moral and righteous about the fact that people might be using addresses that are not their true addresses. In the electoral process in this country that is as ancient as the hills. If it is happening then it is the obligation of the opponent of whichever candidate is doing that to be on top of his or her game to object and then as I said the revision court will deal with that.”

Channel 5

#427548 - 01/12/12 08:20 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

The Immigration Department's late night activities

Last Friday, hundreds of immigrants to this country became nationalized Belizeans at swearing in ceremonies at the George Price Center in Belmopan. Concerns and allegations have been raised over the process of nationalization that is taking place, especially as it relates to the proper legal steps that should be taken. With reports of another few hundred immigrants to be nationalized on Friday again, there have been allegations of underhanded practices at the immigration department to speed up the process.The Director of the Immigration Department told the media that there is nothing unusual going on in the registration of new Belizeans. The mass nationalization just prior to elections is nothing new indeed. PlusTV recalls being thrown out of the George Price Center when the PUP government at the time was undergoing this same process and did not want us to film the very public event where hundreds were being nationalized under the same kind of allegations. So, there is really nothing new under the sun. But while there may be nothing unusual going on at immigration, what is happening at immigration is happening at unusual hours. Government offices are not known for extending services beyond the 5 o’clock closing time, but up to 7:30 last night, the immigration parking lot still had in vehicles with license plates from Orange Walk and Corozal, as it appeared that applicants were still being processed. We left the immigration department a few minutes later, but when we circled back half an hour later at 8 o’clock, the place looked as it normally does on a Tuesday night, locked up and closed for business.


#427778 - 01/14/12 09:00 AM Re: 100s of immigrants become Belizeans [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Election Rush: 500+ Naturalizations Of New Citizens In One Week

Today, a rush of immigrants wanting to be new Belizeans swarmed the immigration office in Belmopan. 300 of them were scheduled to be naturalized at ceremonies held this afternoon at the George Price center.

That's after 225 were naturalized last week Friday. Make no mistake, this is what typically happens in the run-up to an election - where only Belizean citizens can vote.

Registration has been opened to the 20th. to facilitate new registrants - and before that we may even have another naturalization ceremony.

The undue haste to naturalize these new Belizeans has stirred controversy and raised eyebrows, but in the run - but, it's another dirty little secret of Belize's democracy that this is what happens in the run up to every general election in modern memory. No one knows that better than Ruth Meighan. She took over as Director of Immigration after being the Chief Elections Officer. So she's now experienced the pre-election rush at both ends of the process.

She told us that indeed it's an anomalous number of new naturalizations, but she stressed that her office is not facilitating any kind of irregularities:...

Ruth Meighan, Director of Immigration
"Who is in the crowd- we have nationals from different countries who are actually here to get sworn in today as new Belizeans, so we are going to have a sworn in ceremony sometime this afternoon. What we do is accept applications for people who want to be Belizean. We are projecting that we could possibly have about 300 persons this afternoon."

Jules Vasquez
"So then, I know you had a sworn in ceremony earlier this month as well am I right?"

Ruth Meighan
"Yes you are right. Last week Friday actually."

Jules Vasquez
"So then how many were in that?"

Ruth Meighan
"In that ceremony we had about two hundred and twenty persons."

Jules Vasquez
"So then is this an unusually high number for one month or one week really, 8 days."

Ruth Meighan
"It is, what we found now is that a lot of people who had applications sitting here from as far back as 2007-2008 for whatever reason, probably didn't have all the requirements, came in with the necessary documents and those people are also being processed."

Jules Vasquez
"Is all this being expedited because registration for the next election closes on the 20th of January?"

Ruth Meighan
"I don't know Jules; I would be able to say that we are just doing what immigration does. I think people should understand by now, especially the political persons, is that we offer a service and as a result of that, the service requires that you do certain things."

Jules Vasquez
"Would you agree though that there is a coincidence certainly in the fact that registration has, by statutory instrument, been extended up to January 20th, and two nationalization ceremonies are being held within that time?"

Ruth Meighan
"Jules I don't think it's for me to comment on that. I don't know what the reason is why, if it is coincidental or not. I am only saying that if we have the applications to process we have a directive to process them so that we could swear these persons in - that is what we are doing."

"In terms of the political aspect of it I cannot comment. I would want to because it's not my place to say these things are happening."

Jules Vasquez
"Who makes the decision to make two swearing ins within a month?"

Ruth Meighan
"It would be the government depending on the need to do so. It is alleged that we are processing applications for people who are not qualified, and that is not so. We have an instruction that, yes, we have the application, so, yes, let's process it. The directive I got from my Minister, from the Prime Minister is that we process but we stay within the law and that is what we are doing."

Jules Vasquez
"Okay, so you can assure me that all those persons I saw queuing up this afternoon and all those who will be sworn in are......"

Ruth Meighan
"They have all met the requirements."

Jules Vasquez
"Are you all expecting that you have to do another swearing in before next week Friday? We know next week Friday is the cut off time for voter registration."

Ruth Meighan
"We still have files that are not yet processed, so the likelihood does exist that we may have to, but it will be upon the instructions of the authority."

Jules Vasquez
"Of the authorities meaning the executive?"

Ruth Meighan
"My Minister."

Jules Vasquez
"Your Minister."

And so now it's left to be seen if her minister will call for one more round of naturalizations before registration closes on the 20th of January. 300 were set to be naturalized today but, still as Meighan noted, there are a number of persons who have been or are being processed but are pending naturalization.

We note that this is the first time we have been able to get numbers on the new citizens or speak to the Director, but PLUS TV out of Belmopan reports that just like in 2008 - they were not allowed to videotape the proceedings. In fact they were escorted out by police - which we condemn in the strongest terms as "very shady."

Channel 7

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