Headline — 20 January 2018 — by Rowland A. Parks
US says no more work visas for Belize, Haiti and Samoa

Observers say it is punishment for Belize because we voted against the US in the United Nations General Assembly

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Jan. 18, 2018– Exactly one week ago, US President Donald Trump made his “shithole countries” remark, a reference to people from certain poor countries entering the United States, during a meeting at the Oval Office where immigration matters were discussed.

The US president’s remark caused a controversy, alienating many countries on the African continent and elsewhere, where the remark has been widely interpreted as racist.

On the heels of the president’s remarks, the US Homeland Security, with the approval of the Secretary of State, announced this week that citizens from Belize, Haiti, and Samoa, will no longer be eligible for temporary US work visas. The announcement was made yesterday, Wednesday, and published in the Federal Register today, Thursday.

It is not known exactly when Belizeans began receiving the US H-2A and H-2B visas, which are also available to citizens of up to 80 countries who do agricultural and other work in the US. Haitians only began receiving those visas in 2012, after humanitarians in the US lobbied to make the visas available to Haitians after the devastating earthquake in 2010.

The Department of Homeland Security provided some reasons for stripping the three countries of access to the temporary work visa. In the case of Belize, the US cites its concern over human trafficking. Belize is listed as a tier 3 country in the US classification. What that designation means is that the Belize government has not made sufficient effort to curb human trafficking.

 In the case of Samoa, the US says that it has not been accepting back its nationals once they have been ordered out of the US. And Haiti was stripped of the visas because its nationals have been overstaying their time in the US.

A Reuters report noted that a Department of Homeland Security report claims that only 65 Haitians entered the US in 2016 on H-2A visas. The number of Haitians who entered the US on H-2-B visas was extremely low for fiscal 2016.

Last November, the Trump administration lifted the Temporary Protected Status of Haiti that was given under President Barack Obama, in 2010, as a response to the massive earthquake that struck Haiti. That protection will expire on Monday and 59,000 Haitians will be subject to deportation from the US.

In the recent United Nations General Assembly vote, a lopsided majority of United Nations members, Belize among them, voted against the United States, denouncing its decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

President Trump has vowed to punish all those countries that voted overwhelmingly in the UN General Assembly against the US President’s highly controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The US has said it will still relocate its embassy to Jerusalem, claimed by both Israel and Palestine.

After being in office for one year now, President Trump is yet to name an ambassador to Belize.

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