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Immigration Officer Ady Pacheco Says They Never Vetted Any Documents
posted (June 28, 2017)

Last week the Senate Select Committee called Immigration Officer Ady Pacheco to testify. Her name is called about 94 times in the Auditor General's reports and the Senators called her back today to discuss a lot of administrative irregularities exposed in the reports. One topic they did bring up again was her comment that she didn't closely inspect the files she accepted as a frontline immigration officer. She said that it was not her duty to spot fraudulent documents being submitted as part of applications for visas and nationalities. 

Well, the Senators wanted her to explain why she didn't see that as part of her responsibility, and she made some surprising claims. According to Pacheco, no one at the Immigration Department did any kind of verification of whether documents were authentic or not. 

The Senate didn't exactly accept that explanation, and here's how they challenged her on that:

Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee
"When you were accepting documents, why did you not go back and reference that nationality certificate to verify if it was legally issued?"

Ady Pacheco - Immigration Officer
"Because that was practiced at the time. Nothing was verified at the time."

Hon. Aldo Salazar
"I understand that it wasn't part of the procedure to do so, but in terms of for your own personal due diligence, you didn't see it necessary to do that?"

Ady Pacheco
"At the time, no, sir."

Hon. Aldo Salazar
"You were the one who was accepting the documents, as the frontline personnel."

Ady Pacheco.
"Yes."

Hon. Aldo Salazar
"And you were the one who was being given that blame by the people up top, saying, well, you accepted it. You verified them. You verified their authenticity, and therefore, you are the person responsible for accepting fraudulent documents. You see what I am saying?"

Ady Pacheco
"I understand."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay - PUP Senator
"Is it that documents presented to you were simply accepted, and a visual check or when you say face value, you mean no independent verification or corroboration was done?"

Ady Pacheco
"What I mean was - and I told the other senators last week - we compared whatever copies that were brought in to whatever originals were presented to us."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"And no independent verification?"

Ady Pacheco
"No."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"Were you ever recommending files at any time in your career there?"

Ady Pacheco
"Yes."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"So in this case, you recommended this file."

Ady Pacheco
"Yes."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"Was it not your responsibility to verify them?"

Ady Pacheco
"No. We - at the time, there was no verification of anything. We went by whatever was in the file, and at 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. This recommendation is no way or form a verification of any of the documents in there."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"So, who would be responsible for verifying these documents in the whole process?"

Ady Pacheco
"This is what I am 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. If, let's say, they saw the need to verify something then the investigation section would be the one to do it. But, they weren't tasked with that. Investigation section helped us with the interviews too."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"So, you paid no attention to trying to see if what was presented to you was in fact authentic. This is the picture you're painting to me."

Ady Pacheco
"Yes, neither me no anybody who was recommending at the time."|

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"When now, you're performing the "recommending" function, you are required, are you not, to vet. And by that I mean, if the person says, permanent resident in Belize from October 10, 2012, you are required to go and find out whether or not, in the register, that person was issued permanent residency."

Ady Pacheco
"No, sir."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Why do you say no, So, how do you vet, then?"

Ady Pacheco
"We simply tell the person who that file is going to - to the Director - that this file contains - this is what is in the file."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"But how do you vet? You said you were performing a vetting function."

Ady Pacheco
"That was basically what we did. There was no verification. There was no going and checking if -"

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Why?"

Ady Pacheco
"That's what I met. That was the way it operated."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"It can't be so."

Ady Pacheco
"Yes, I worked in that section."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"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?" 

Ady Pacheco
"I can't answer that, sir. That was the way things worked back then."

Hon. Dr. Carla Barnett - UDP Senator
"Given that evidence, Miss Pacheco, why would you suppose that the Department would have taken its time to train its staff in fraudulent document identification, if you were not expected to you use that knowledge to vet documents?"

Ady Pacheco
"We did try to use it whenever possible. It's just that there was no verification done at any point."

Hon. Dr. Carla Barnett
"I think she can only speak for herself. Maybe she didn't do verification, but I don't know that you can say that nobody else used that knowledge."

Ady Pacheco
"Correct, ma'am."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"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 it just goes through the system. There is no need to call on a minister. There is no need to pay any money. And, we know that there was a culture of corruption that was embedded in the department. So, I am finding it difficult to believe that in fact, verification was not performed."

Ady Pacheco
"Sir, I went by what was in the file."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"Last week, my colleague Senator Chebat referred to you as the ultimate facilitator, and I am 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?"

Ady Pacheco
"No, I wouldn't say that."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"But, you did not verify."

Ady Pacheco
"Nobody verified at the Department."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"Nobody, but you specifically did not - you said you did not verify. So, is it possible, Miss Pacheco, that - because you feature prominently in this book. There is another case on page 211 where the same thing, BNA file was forwarded by Ady Pacheco, although the application was incomplete, and had inconsistencies. Is it possible, Miss Pacheco that you were the ultimate facilitator?"

Ady Pacheco
"In those cases, when an application was sent incomplete, it would have to be that someone higher up the ranks was requesting that specific file."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga
"Does it surprise you that you feature so prominently in this report?"

Ady Pacheco
"No, I was working at that section during that time. If this report would have been done on a different time frame, if would probably be somebody else who would be featured prominently in that report."

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