Belize City businessman, Ricardo Marin, 46, the owner of Oasis Bar, was spared jail time and was fined instead after he pleaded guilty to two immigration offenses when he appeared before Senior Magistrate Sharon Frazer today.
Officers representing the Immigration Department charged Marin with two counts of employing workers who are not in possession of valid working papers at his bar, located at Mile 4 ½ on the Philip Goldson Highway, near the Haulover Bridge approach.
Before imposing the fine, the Senior Magistrate explained to Marin that under the Immigration Act, the offense is a very serious one which also carries a prison term of two years. She told him that the fine can go as high as $5,000 for each undocumented worker that an employer hires.
She fined him $1,000 each for the two undocumented workers, plus two $5.00 cost of court and ordered him to pay by June 30, 2014, in default of which he would serve six months in prison.
Before leaving the court, Marin paid his fine.
Yesterday, Thursday, May 8, around 3:30 p.m., Immigration officers visited the Oasis Bar and conducted a routine check, during which they found two immigrant women working.
The women, Honduran nationals, Deimys Cervantes and Cynthia Hernandez, were asked to present their working papers and when they could not do so, they were taken into custody and interviewed at the Immigration Department’s Belize City office, located at the Charles Bartlett Hyde Building (AKA the Complex building).
During the interview, the women told the immigration officers that they were hired to work as waitresses for Marin.
Hernandez has been living in Belize illegally, while Cervantes had been granted an extension to her visiting visa.
Hernandez arrived in Belize in 2009 and only has a passport that has since expired. Cervantes, on the other hand, has been living here since 2012. She has her Honduran passport, which shows that she has been granted extensions to remain in Belize with her visitor’s visa. Her last extension will expire in June.
Since Hernandez cooperated with the Immigration Department in nabbing her boss, she will not be charged.