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Immigration Department out of control on Ambergris Caye

An American visitor to our island was out having a drink on Thursday night with some local residents and the question came up ‘how long had he been here?” and his reply was ‘nearly 2 months.’ It was then determined that he did not have his visitor’s visa renewed, as he had assumed it was like Mexico where you have 180 days, vs. the 30 you get in Belize.  He was told that all he had to do was go to the Immigration Office and get his passport stamped after he paid the $50 Bz fee for a visitors visa extension.

He went to the office the following morning, and he was arrested. The Immigration department informed him that he had committed a major crime and he was marched straight to the San Pedro Jail. Unbelieveably, the US Embassy was called, and they could not secure his release. The mayor of San Pedro, the honourable Danny Guerrerro, spent along time trying to get ahold of the Immigration to plead for this person’s release.

Corporal Young was contacted due to her role in the Tourist Police, but she said it was purely an Immigration matter and said there was nothing she could do. The BTB were contact in Belize City and they said Immigration had nothing to do with them and that the person should have known that his visa needed renewed. Without a doubt, this attitude by the BTB will definitely increase tourism to our country.

The Ambergris Daily states that this is an utter disgrace and we all know what Immigration were actually looking for, which they obviously didnt get… With the town alive with hookers, blanket sales people, cashew sales people etc, who obviously do not have passports and have snuck across our borders illegally, and have been given carte-blanche by every government department that should be sending them home again.

How come Immigration cannot go into Olympics bar, Juvine’s, The Kingdom Hall, the Boatyard, the Winning Post, Zac Bajo and many many other bars if they are so concerned with people overstaying their visas? Why oh why are they trying to stop tourism instead of dealing with real issues?

Unfortunately, even with the mayor’s intervention, the person spent Friday night in Jail. How many people will he inform that he was arrested for overstaying his visa when he returns to New Jersey? The Ambergris Daily is calling for all of the Immigration department in San Pedro to be changed, and be tourist friendly. The police could have handled themselves far better, as could have the Belize Tourism Board.

On a further note, look how many are arrested for buying drugs but are able to make bail before the magistrates arrive to the Police Station… and yet they are willing to arrest people for an innocent mistake – maybe that is too much to ask as that is expecting these officers of the government to have a minute particle of intelligence.

Further to this story: The Ambergris Daily have just learned that the police are telling this visitor that he may be in jail until next Tuesday until a Magistrate can arrive to the island to sort through this mess.



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