I am a retired United States citizen who has been residing in Belize since May 1, 2017. On December 6, 2019, I was granted Permanent Residency by the Immigration Department, and shortly thereafter, I visited a local Social Security Board office, where I attempted to apply for a Social Security card, but I was denied.
The supervisor at the Orange Walk Social Security Board office advised me that I needed to provide my birth certificate in order to be issued a card. I explained to the supervisor that I do not have a birth certificate. I further explained that my primary sources of my identification have always been my valid US passport, which indicates my place of birth, my date of birth, and my valid US driver license.
The supervisor told me that “because a Social Security card is the primary source of identification in Belize, a valid passport with a Permanent Residency Stamp in it, that has been issued by the Immigration Department of Belize, is not a reliable and a valid source of identification, and therefore, not acceptable by the Social Security Board in order to establish [my] identity as a resident alien who has been granted residency in Belize”.
When I further notified the supervisor that in addition to my US citizenship and passport, I am also a citizen of a Commonwealth country (Sierra Leone) and asked whether my valid Commonwealth passport would suffice, the supervisor again reiterated her position, saying, “no valid passport, whether a US passport, or a Commonwealth country passport, are sufficient, reliable, and credible identifications for the Belize Social Security Board to issue an identification card.”
I was completely flabbergasted by the supervisor’s remarks. I left the supervisor’s office wondering how I had gone through my entire permanent residency application process with the Immigration Department, and I was never ever asked to present my birth certificate. I wondered why the disconnection between the two administrative agencies!
Why does the Social Security Board, a governmental administrative agency, ignore the policies, procedures, and practices of another governmental administrative agency (Immigration)? Why does the Social Security Board not have full faith in the Immigration Department? And why does the Social Security Board not consider the Immigration Department’s decisions and findings as reliable, and why does the Social Security Board look upon the Immigration Department with suspicion and contempt?
Francis Mandewah, MPA
San Antonio Village