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Nov 29, 2017

Directive by Immigration Minister ‘abnormal’

Accompanied by attorney Darrell Bradley, Marin then answered questions from the reduced panel of senators led by Pro-tem chair Mark Lizarraga. She confirmed that the process for visa applications with recommendations by Ministers outlined by the Immigration Minister, Godwin Hulse, went against established procedure. But did Hulse and Saldivar-Morter deliberately ignore the protocols to please their political fellows?

 

Maria Marin, Former Acting Director of Immigration

“Discussion was held among the above-mentioned persons with a view to determining a more straightforward way of processing visa applications. After much discussion the following was decided: all applications supported by Ministers/caretakers for vetting; the Ministry will then hand over to Director of Immigration under confidential cover. Ministers or caretakers shall not act as agents or sponsors but simply as support for the applicant or sponsor. And like that there are fourteen enumerations.”

 

Elena Smith, Senator, Trade Unions and Civil Society

“And was that the normal process, that these applications go to the Ministry?”

 

Maria Marin

“No, that was not the normal process.”

 

Elena Smith

“And so when you refer here to ‘under confidential cover’ what exactly do you mean?”

 

Maria Marin

“They would come under cover memo, addressed directly from the C.E.O. to the Acting Director.”

 

Elena Smith

“So that would go directly to the Acting Director at the time?”

 

Maria Marin

“Yes. But what happened is that copies of these memorandums were attached to the specific application, because as far as I was concerned these formed part of that application, and so the memorandums were added on to the applications and the other supporting documents that came with it.”

 

Elena Smith

“So then it obviously means that at the highest level – are you saying that at the highest level, they were disregarding the process?”

 

Maria Marin

“That was the instruction that this document is giving.”

 

Elena Smith

“So you’re agreeing that that’s what they did – they disregarded the process for these specific ones.”

 

Maria Marin

“Yes, because the applications should have come to the Department.”

 

Mark Lizarraga, Pro-tem Chair, Senate Special Select Committee

“What I’m hearing is that basically, if a recommendation for a visa, or a request for assistance for a visa, came by way of a Minister or a caretaker – we’ve seen the lists and the letters – they were never refused; that was your instruction, they were not to be refused?”

 

Maria Marin

“No. The instruction was not that they were not to be refused; the instruction was that they should be expedited within five working days.”

 

Mark Lizarraga

“In other words?”

 

Maria Marin

“That the Ministry – it would go to the Ministry for initial vetting and then it would come to me. My insistence was that these applications would have to go through the normal process while at the Department. And so what my action was I would direct these to the officer in charge of the Immigration section, which was responsible for accepting, receiving, reviewing these applications. And that is what my instruction to that officer meant – ‘for necessary action.’ That officer knew that ‘for necessary action’ meant that you review it; you ensure that these applications are complete; that the documents are there, that they meet the requirements, and that you forward it to the Investigation Section for vetting.”

 

We’ll have more from the Senate Inquiry on Thursday.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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