Former Director of Immigration Maria Marin returned to testify before the Senate Select Committee today, as the Senate-appointed group continued its investigation into the allegations of wrongdoing cited in the Auditor General’s special audit report.


At the last hearing, Marin confirmed the report’s findings that there were irregularities at the Department. Today she offered a deeper diagnosis, speaking openly about some of the things which she saw taking place in her Department but which she disapproved of.


Aldo Salazar, Committee Chairman


“I want you to address what you perceived as the culture at the time when you came to lay the department?”

 

mariamarinMaria Marin – Former director of Immigration


“When I came to the department as the Deputy Director, I was aware of cases where we would have people coming in to the department to like what was referred to as agents, who would come in and bring in application forms, we would have cases where as the Deputy Director holding over for the then Director, when they went on leave or were out of office for some reason, I experience that there were requests that were coming for applications to be approved, without having on all the necessary requirements or supporting documents in some instances, there were situations where I was able to see that there were officers who were being approached by ministers for what reason I don’t know but they went to them to take papers and to accept papers, documents I guess for applications and as the Deputy I also was involved in several investigation cases for alleged wrong doings where we were able to gather evidence what we thought it was good and then we would take it up and nothing happened.”


Mark Lizarraga, Senate Select Committee member


“You were not able to break this culture and I am trying to understand if your role way back from 2010 was to improve this system to make policies and procedure so clear that people had to follow them, what went wrong?”


Maria Marin – Former director of Immigration


“We needed to have the support from the decision makers.”


Mark Lizarraga, Senate Select Committee member


“So the failure to follow policies and procedures you are saying is that you did not have the support from the policy makers, from the politicians that is what you are saying?”


Maria Marin – Former director of Immigration


“Basically I did not feel that enough being done and therefore I am saying that they support was not there.”

 

But as the most senior official at the Immigration Department – and the one who was actually in charge from 2013 to 2016, Marin had to answer questions about her alleged involvement in suspected wrongdoing, cited in the auditor general’s report, but just as she did in the last hearing, she said she had no part in it.


Mark Lizarraga, Senate Committee member


“In reference to bullet 12 in the two applicants, we are still on VISAS page 16, were these VISAS issued with or without your approval, at 12.5 it says that they were issued without the Directors approval and signature on the VISA forms?”

 

Maria Marin – Former Director of Immigration


“I would need to look at the document to verify because every VISA that came to me for approval and that I approve I would sign on to.”


Mark Lizarraga, Senate Committee member


“To be helpful for us if could familiarize yourself with this item to tell us what transpired because these nationals you would agree clearly because of their nationalities would have needed your approval unless as you said they were residence of the US or had a US Visa, this report does not indicate, am trying to ascertain whether these persons in fact really needed your approval or the Commander in charge in fact was authorized to issue a VISA  without your approval, perhaps when you next comeback if you..?”


Maria Marin – Former Director of Immigration


“I need to remind the Honourable Senator though that I am no longer at the department and I don’t have access to the files.”


Aldo Salazar, Committee Chairman


“Can you offer any insight as to why visas, as we can see were approved without compliance with the necessary requirements?”


Maria Marin – Former Director of Immigration


“It is difficult to do that if I am seeing the respective file and then if it was not done by me, remember that the officers, the Port Commanders or the officers in charge had the authority also to approve and issue VISAS.”

 

Aldo Salazar, Committee Chairman


“It seems that visas were being issued consistently over a long period of time in the absence of one thing or the other in the application process which to me speak to the issue of control, was there any method of at the end of the month or at the end of a certain period of reviewing the VISAS that were issued to see if they were issued in accordance with your policies and procedures and regulations?”


Maria Marin – Former Director of Immigration


“We did not have any monthly set controls to each station, we have eleven station out, and we had any deputy either, it was a major challenge to go out there every month to do that but we had quarterly port commanders meetings and at those meetings we would remind the officers where there was the need to ensure that we had proper record keeping.”



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