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Sep 27, 2017

Senate Inquiry Returns; New Home Brings New Procedures for Immigration

Diana Locke

The Senate Special Select Committee resumed after a one-week holiday break with Director of Immigration, Diana Locke, continuing her testimony. For the past two sessions she has been extensively reviewing the Department’s activities since the Auditor General’s Report was compiled beginning in 2013, and the efforts at reform that the department has taken. For the most part, they have avoided new scandal, but that does not mean that the Department is completely out of the woods regarding attempts at corruption. Multiple examples were discussed in the morning session of today’s hearing, beginning with something as simple as queuing up at the Department early in the morning. Locke testified that the Department is putting a stop to taxi drivers and other unscrupulous types seeking to profit from the urgency and need for Immigration services. She told the Committee how that will be accomplished.

 

Diana Locke, Director of Immigration

“I have spoken with the Department and I have indicated that effective first of October we will be moving, and hopefully begin to do appointments; there will be a walk-in line, but we will have the option of making appointments. I am in discussion with the Ministry at this point in how best we can facilitate those appointments by telephone. We do have complaints – I myself have those complaints because sometimes I try calling into the Department when I am outside and you cannot get in. It’s not that the officers are on the phone; the calls don’t perhaps carry over to someone else and so those calls go unanswered. From time to time, I have had to call people on their personal cell phone to get through to the Department. So that is something that we are also looking at, to see how we could utilize other means of getting the public access to us by telephone. We have a numbering system from one to fifty. From the time I got there the numbers have been disappearing, particularly the higher numbers, from one to ten, maybe one to fifteen; we have consistently made those numbers again and they keep disappearing. We have heard – a staff member said to me that she almost got into an altercation with a taxi driver who was taking her one evening to school and she saw the numbers in the taxi. So it’s clear that when people are not handing in those numbers, they are being left with the taxi drivers. I have had occasions where I have had to go in – I had a complaint from someone where they went there at – I think it was four-thirty in the morning – and they got number sixteen. And we reviewed the camera and we were able to see that not that many people had gone there. What had been happening – the security were making entries into that diary for people who had contacted them – I have no proof if there was a fee paid – but we do know that there were entries being made into the book for people so if you came at four in the morning you may have well gotten number fifteen. We took steps to address that and we told them that the numbers would not be issued. I still maintain that we cannot dispense with the walk-in system, but I think the best way forward and I would like to do this effective October first, for people to have the opportunity to make appointments.”

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