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Feb 2, 2017

Who Else Benefited from Access and “Culture” at Immigration

Gordon Wade

Prominent Ministers of Government, from former Minister of Immigration John Saldivar to Edmond Castro, have been named as being frequent visitors to the Department of Immigration in the time of the Auditor General’s Report. But were there others of lesser profile who could get similar business done without a raise of the eyebrow from the officers in Belmopan? During his testimony in the Senate Special Select Committee, former Officer in Charge of Nationality, Gordon Wade, recalled that such persons – Minister’s operatives and supporters, for example –  would make requests directly to the Director who would issue the relevant orders. And he said that was only part of the “discretion” the Director and the deputy had in Immigration matters – which contributed, he said, to the “culture of irregularity” mentioned by former deputy Director Maria Marin at her appearance.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“I want to find out because Senator Barnett was asking the question – there were other people, other than Ministers, who frequented the Department of Immigration, who to the public looking in you would wonder what is this person doing here – a Minister’s driver; close political supporters – was it also a practice of them making requests for files to move forward to the Director in circumstances where the files may be incomplete?”

 

Gordon Wade, Former Officer in Charge, Nationality Section

“When requests were made by whosoever they were made for, [they] were made to the Director; that instruction or request would come from her; it was not directed to me so I don’t know who all would make those requests.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“I see. Tell me something: you had an opportunity to hear Miss Maria Marin’s testimony before this Committee?”

 

Gordon Wade

“While at work, it wasn’t on the local radio; I don’t have a television at work. I saw little pieces on the news.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“You heard her refer to a culture in the Department?”

 

Gordon Wade

“Yes, I did.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“Are you aware of any such culture in the Department?”

 

Gordon Wade

“Well, a culture she is talking about – she is the only person that can answer that. But in the Department for the amount of time I have been in there, I have seen instances where I will consider a culture, where the Director at her level or his level would have certain discretionary powers.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“And?”

 

Gordon Wade

“Which I would constitute – a simple example is in the application for registration through Section ten, where the requirements ask that you be ordinarily residing in Belize for five years. In my view, if you show five-year permits in Belize I would make a note of that. If you couldn’t show five legal years in Belize and you would have shown maybe you had two or three children born in Belize attending school, and I would forward that to the Director stating that the person doesn’t have or isn’t able to show five legal years living in Belize but have presented proof of being in Belize by having three children born here; then they would have that power to decide that’s ordinary residence, that is recommended; that is what I would consider. Like I said, I can’t speak for her, what she is referring to, but being in the Department for that time, that is what I noticed.”

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