September 26th 2016 – The People’s United Party condemns the actions of Minister Godwin Hulse who in an interview on the LOVE FM Morning Show on Thursday, September 15th 2016 stated that in 1998 the Immigration Act was amended to allow for persons married to a Belizean to acquire Belizean nationality without having to live in Belize for a year. This is totally untrue and is a deliberate attempt by Minister Hulse to mislead the people of Belize.
The fact is and has always been that as a requirement to get nationality through marriage, if a foreigner marries a Belizean and wants to apply for Belizean nationality, he or she must be living in Belize for one year prior to applying and must intend to continue living in Belize.
In 1998, the Belizean Nationality Act was amended on April 11th but it was not to change this requirement. Therefore, the amendment never altered the definition of being legally resident or ordinarily resident.
What that amendment did was to clarify, particularly for persons who may have arrived in Belize illegally but since that arrival married a Belizean, when such persons can commence the counting of his/or her one-year residency. Therefore, with that amendment in 1998, the one-year residency is deemed to be legal from the date of marriage provided that the person is actually resident (living in the country) for a year after the marriage and prior to applying for nationality.
The Auditor General in her report did not shy away from this amendment, which Minister Godwin Hulse wants the public to believe that she did. In fact, the Auditor General clearly stated the law as it has stood since that amendment and laid it out on Page 171 of the Nationality Report of the Special Audit.
The interpretation Minister Godwin Hulse and Prime Minister Barrow are now offering for this amendment in 1998 is not only false but it goes against their own Ministry of Immigration’s internal policies and law on immigration and nationality.
Even if Minister Godwin Hulse and Prime Minister Barrow would want us to accept their interpretation of this amended Section 11 of the Nationality Act, the fact is their interpretation still does not create a residency for Mr. Dalhstrom, the Prime Minister’s brother-in-law, since residency never existed. A continuous one-year residency prior to application and intention to continue being are the requirements for applying for nationality.
The PUP continues to call on the President of the Senate to convene a special Senate meeting to reintroduce the motion for a Senate Inquiry and for Minister Godwin Hulse to recuse himself from such proceedings in the interest of transparency, accountability and impartiality for which this serious matter demands.