Not All Overseas Immigration Policy Ideas Are Good Ones

By David North on November 7, 2010

From time to time I have suggested that some other nations have great immigration policy ideas, as in the case of Australia's linkage of population and migration policies touched on in an earlier blog.

But this is not always the case.

Belize (the former British Honduras) presents an excellent example this week of how not to shape an immigration policy.

Though poverty- and crime-ridden, Belize attracts a number of illegal immigrants from among the Hispanics and the indigenous population of neighboring Guatemala. (That someone would rather be an illegal resident of Belize than a legal one of Guatemala does not speak well of living conditions in the latter country.)

Belize, with a total population of about 312,000, is a bit less crowded than most of the nations of Central America, and that may be among its attractions. It also has a more stable, if somewhat rough-hewn, democracy than most of the other nations in that region.

In any event, the government of Belize, according to one of its two news-carrying TV stations, is about to launch an amnesty programme (to use their spelling) and it figures this will attract some 20,000 people. Since the U.S. has about one thousand times as many people as Belize, that nation's legalizing 20,000 illegal immigrant is comparable to the U.S. doing so with 20 million – a major challenge.

But my concern with is not confined to the numbers, daunting as they are; I worry about the conditions of the proposed amnesty.

To be eligible, people must: 1) have lived in Belize for at least two years, and 2) must have lived with their children in Belize for at least two years.

This means that both being illegally present in the nation and child-bearing are to be rewarded when this amnesty comes into play. If you worry, as I do, about overpopulation caused by either too many births or too many immigrants, this provision looks like a double-barreled nightmare.

The Belize proposal verges on making the proposed the DREAM Act – which rewards illegal presence when it is linked with either military service or a college degree – look almost rational.

People legalized by the DREAM Act, just as those legalized a generation ago by IRCA, would be given the power, of course, to bring in relatives once they get their own green cards.

To see the news article mentioned above go here, then click on Channel 7, and then go to the broadcast of November 5; a more direct link does not seem to be available.