How Lax Was Access to Visas in West?
The Senate Special Select Committee has been actively poring through a single incident reported in the Auditor General’s Special Report on Immigration for weeks now. The more important issues of nationalities and passport granted to persons who did not meet the requirements has taken the back seat eight visa foils that somehow went missing from the file cabinet at the Western Border Station, and days later, wound up in the hands of two officials of the Belize City Council who wanted to satisfy certain constituents. The gambit did not work and no one has officially been found responsible, but the incident has come to symbolize the brokenness of the Immigration Department’s procedures and standards. During his testimony, the former supervisor of the station, Mark Tench, made clear that security was lax and they will never know for sure all of whom was involved in the missing visa caper.
Mark Tench, Former Supervisor of Immigration, Western Border
“The visas were kept in a folder, the folder that can just open like this – the brown ones. And they were just in there with a Treasury tag. So once the supervisor would have them on the desk – because we’re doing work in there; they have come into the office; it’s a small office, you have people in there coming to do different things; maybe some to come buy permits, do visas. Sometimes officers would keep the visas on the desk, the supervisors, with the office stamps, and then at the end of their shift or when it’s not as busy, they would take it back into the Cabinet and put it in there.”
Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee
“So, it would have been easy for somebody who is minded to steal the visas to have access to them, because they weren’t kept…”
“Yes, it wasn’t as like how – we changed all of those procedures after – but at the time, nobody would have assumed that somebody from our Department would do that.”