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May 17, 2017

2012 Nationality Rush: Penner Says He Was Just Trying to Help

Elvin Penner

More than two thousand names collected by the Immigration Department are suspected of having obtained Belizean nationality in less than optimal circumstances during the rush to the 2012 general elections. Immigration officials testifying at the Senate Special Select Committee, right up to Director Ruth Meighan, have admitted that the persons registered to vote based on these nationalities were not qualified and should not have been registered. Elvin Penner was prominently seen at the Department at the time and did not shy away today from saying that it was part of his job to help these people and others get their share of the Jewel.

 

Eamon Courtenay, P.U.P. Senator

“Do you recall a rush for the processing of nationality in 2012, early 2012?”

 

Elvin Penner, Former Minister of State, Immigration and Nationality

“I am not sure what you would classify as a rush; all I can say is as a Minister, as an area representative, as a political figure, as somebody who is there to help the people, that when the persons… (Applause)”

 

Aldo Salazar, Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“Gentlemen, please. Please.”

 

Elvin Penner

“…when any person at all comes to me, and I am convinced that the person qualifies for nationality, I will do my best to assist that person because (Applause) at the end of the day, if you want to continue your career as a politician, your success will be largely based on how well you have performed in assisting people (Applause) in your constituency and even in the general public. I’ve never personally just made it clear that I would only help people in my constituency; I try to help anyone. So in that case which you were referring to, I was simply trying to assist persons that needed my help, because as a politician, I believe that it is in my best interests to do that.”

 

Penner could not recall saying in a television interview that he paid part of the processing fee for some applicants.

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