Addy Pacheco says no process for verifying documents was in place

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Addy Pacheco was back before the Senate Select Committee today. Last week, she had laid blame for the acceptance of incomplete applications at the feet of her Officer In Charge and others up in the rank and file of the visa application process. She said she was there only to accept applications and it was not her job to certify the authenticity of anything. That was for her superiors to do. Today, she was confronted with a case where she was acting in a supervisory role but the files had documents that appeared not to be genuine and it was approved and forwarded by her.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: If you recommend the file, would you not check it before you recommend it?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: I already told you that we did not conduct any sort of verification.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: In this instance, what the Auditor General is saying is that you recommended it. You never start the process. What I’m reading into this is that you were somewhere in, further down in the process. Is that correct?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Yes.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Were you ever recommending files at any time in your career there?vlcsnap-00391

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Yes.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So in this case you recommended this file? Was it not your responsibility to verify then?

 Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: No. At the time there was no verification of anything. We went by what was already in the file and face value. There was no set procedure that said that we have to verify extension stamp, residency stamp, work permit stamp or even arrival stamp.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Miss Pacheco. The last time you were before us you gave us the impression, and please correct me if I’m wrong; that you would receive documents, compile them, if any files were missing and if anything was wrong you would tell it your supervisor right? In this case, is it fair for me to assume that you were in this supervisory capacity?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: There were instances when I was asked to vet files. Yes.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So when you came before us and you said you were receiving, you made it clear look I was just receiving—

 Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: That was not my only function. I also made it clear to you that at the time we were not given any job description. So whatever was assigned to us that was what we had to do.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: I understand. That’s not my point. My point was that last week you gave us the impression that look, ‘it wasn’t for me to verify, it was for my officer in command. He was the one that should really check it and it was for this investigative section.’ Am I correct?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: I said if there was any verification needed and if they saw the need to do it it would be most likely the investigation section, but there was at no point something that said, ;This needs to be verified’

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Miss Pacheco I’m having difficulty understand you because if there was no verification done at your level, you just took things at face value. You said you just made sure that the copies that were in the originals were the copies that were in the file. Am I correct?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Yes.vlcsnap-00386

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Okay. And then when we tried to understand how the process worked and who was responsible for now checking into the content, the substance of the content, you said it was the officer in command.

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Well they go through the file.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Exactly. And then the investigative section correct? It was not your responsibility as receiving clerk. But now here in this case now you are not acting as a receiving clerk. You are in a position where you’re recommending a file, you’re recommendation- I’m sure the minister and director will say ‘Well we had the recommendation of Miss Pacheco.’

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: That recommendation is a pretty set standard way of putting things. It would basically say Applicant, the name, hereby qualifies through citizenship under section 11, let’s say if it’s through marriage and enclosure 2 shows marriage certificate, enclosure 3 shows husband’s Belizean documents. It would be basically what’s already in the file, that’s what we’re telling them. This is what’s in the file. But this recommendation is in no way or form a verification of any of the documents in there.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So who would be responsible for verifying these documents in the whole process?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: This is what I’m trying to make you understand that there is no set person or section that dealt with only verification. There was no verifications done at the time.

Even when confronted with that case, Pacheco insists that there was no procedure, or practice in place for verification of documents.vlcsnap-00391

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So even when you’re in the capacity as recommender, you paid no attention in trying to see if what was presented to you was in fact authentic? This is the picture you’re painting to me.

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Yes. More not anybody who was recommending at the time.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: You are required are you not to vet? And by that I mean, if the person says permanent residence in Belize from the 10th of October 2012. You are required to go and find out whether or not in the register that person was issued permanent residence?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: No sir.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Why do you say no? How do you vet then?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: We simply tell the person who that file is going to most,, well to the director that this is what’s in the file.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Right. But how do you vet? You said you were performing a vetting function

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: That was basically what we did. There was no verification. There was no going and checking if…

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Why?vlcsnap-00388

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: That’s what I met. That’s the way it was operating.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: It cannot be so man.

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Yes. I worked in that section.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So why did it go to you all? The person at the front desk might as well send it to the director. Why go to a verification department?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: I can’t answer that. That was the way things worked back then.

The Senators seemed a bit frustrated with Pacheco’s insistence that there was no process for verifying application documents.

Eamon Courtenay, Senator, Senate Select Committee: If what you are saying is true, then there was no need for political intervention, there was no need for financial intervention because whatever was sent it was sent and just goes through the system. There’s no need to call on a minister, no need to pay any money. And we know that there was a culture of corruption that was embedded in the department. So I’m finding it difficult to believe that in fact verification was not performed.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Last week, my colleague Senator Chebat referred to you as the ultimate facilitator. And I’m going to ask you this question. Was it possible that most people knew that you did not verify, and that’s why they came to you?

 Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: I wouldn’t say that.vlcsnap-00389

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: You wouldn’t say that? But you would not verify?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: Nobody verified at the department.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: Nobody verified. But you specifically, you said you did not verify. So is it possible Miss Pacheco that because you feature prominently in this book – there’s another case on page 211 where the same thing; BNA file was forwarded by Addy Pacheco. Although the application was incomplete and had inconsistencies, is it possible Miss Pacheco that you were the ultimate facilitator?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: In those cases when an application was sent being incomplete it would have to be that someone higher up the ranks was requesting that specific file.

Mark Lizzaragua, Senator, Senate Select Committee: So are you saying that there were instances where you did not verify because you were getting pressured from higher up?

Addy Pacheco, Clerk, Immigration Depart.: We never verified. There was no system in place, just let me be specific and clear to you. There was no set place that said we have to verify entry stamps, we have to verify residency stamps, we have to verify anything that in the file.

Dr. Carla Barnett, Senator, Senate Select Committee: I’ve never been to passport and everyone knows my face and not been through the process of verification. It just doesn’t happen. Everything is ticked off, everything is checked. My own personal experience with a nephew of mine applying for citizenship by descent; it’s just not my personal experience that the documentation is not verified. Everything that he was bringing from where he was born. My sibling’s birth paper being genuine and having to be the updated one. It’s just not my own personal experience. Maybe if he had gone to you it would have gone through easier.

 

 

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