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Dec 3, 2015

Senator Seeks Inquiry in Nanes Immigration Fiasco

How did David Nanes Schnitzer acquire Belizean nationality and other IDs? A motion to summon former Acting Director of Immigration Maria Marin before the Senate will be filed during the next meeting scheduled for December ninth.  If it gets the nod, Marin will be requested to appear before upper parliament to answer a battery of questions relating to irregularities at the Immigration and Nationality Department during her tenure as head of management.  The inquiry pertains to the fraudulent acquisition of permanent residence by Mexican national David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer.  Under an assumed name, the international fugitive was able to obtain a Belizean passport and other documents, including a voter’s registration card for Belize Rural South.  According to Opposition Senator Lisa Shoman, who is filing the application, while Schnitzer’s citizenship has been canceled following the revelation that his documents were falsified, there has been no formal investigation into the matter.

 

Lisa Shoman, PUP Senator

Lisa Shoman

 “Unusually, the minister responsible for immigration passed a statutory instrument revoking the citizenship of David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer, who had nationality in the name of David Banes.  David Banes was not charged or David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer was never charged for what it is alleged in that statutory instrument that is that he did so by fraud, by misinformation and that he obtained these nationality documents by, as they put it, mistake.  The issue is that the Belizean people have never been told what that fraud consists of and there are questions that need to be answered, not only as to how Nanes Schnitzer got his documents but as to the paper trail that led up to him getting it, who was involved, how many other of their people like this could potentially be out there and it leads right back to the fact that during the Pennergate issue the auditor general was tasked with making a report.  That report has for some months now, I’ve been told, been on the desk of the prime minister and Belizeans have never been given answers as to what is going on.  The senate is entrusted under the constitution with making inquiries, with making investigations and the senate has the duty and the responsibility to undertake these things in the public interest.  That is a part of the functions of the senate and the senate must do its job.  And so, therefore, I am bringing a motion to say to the senate that we have to undertake our responsibility in this situation that we should bring in the CEO responsible for Immigration and Nationality to explain to the senate everything that is known, not only about David Banes or David Miguel Nanes Schnitzer but also other persons to whom nationality certificates have been given, for whom there is suspicion that there is fraud or that there is some wrong doing involved.  And for us to look to see what steps were taken, what steps have been taken, what steps should be taken in order to ensure that Belize is not going to suffer the kind of international embarrassment that we have suffered over this case.  Even the prime minister himself says that whoever is involved should be taken, as he says, before the Public Service Commission but what if it is officials who don’t report to the Public Service Commission; officials, say like former ministers, or former CEOs or the former Director of Immigration.  That is the sort of thing that I think Belizeans ought to know and it should be put on the record the senate has to be allowed to do its work to investigate what is happening because clearly under Pennergate with Wong Hong Kim was not an isolated incident and from time to time these matters will rear their ugly heads.  We need to know what is the full extent of the exposure up to now, who are the people involved  and what it is that the Minister of Immigration and Nationality plans to do.  So that is why we have brought the motion.  It is supported by my colleagues of course, Senator Sylvester and Senator Andrews.”

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