Senior Immigration Officer speaks on Wong Hong Kim case

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Updated: February 1, 2017

During today’s Senate Hearing, Senior Immigration Officer, Gordon Wade was questioned specifically about the Wong Hong Kim Passport. In her report, the Auditor General states that Gordon was not paying much attention to the date when former Minister Elvin Penner submitted the Wong Hong Kim application. Gordon told the Auditor General that it was not out of the norm for any minister to submit an incomplete application. According to Wade, in the matter of Wong Hong Kim, Penner promised to submit the missing files at a later date.

Senator Elena Smith

“Is that saying Mr. Wade that previously ministers had made promise to bring in documents and they did and so because or in this case Minister Penner had promised previously that he would bring in documents that were not brought in at the time of application being given.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“That is exactly what I meant.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So he had always brought in and so because of that you believe that he would bring in for this one but he didn’t.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“He didn’t.”

Senator Elena Smith

“We also Mr. Wade, have you heard the statement that says a promise is a comfort to a fool?

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“ Yes.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So even though we know that we relied on the Minister’s promise. You really felt or believed that he would honor his promise and bring in those documents.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“Or like I mentioned in the report it has been done before and they had always brought in the necessary remaining documents. At the time when this case it was not anything particular to me until after the case was finished it was impossible for me to say that this one you were not going to bring in the rest when like I mentioned it was something they did before on always bringing in the rest of the documents. So there was nothing that particular about this application for me to say oh let me look at this, it was a usual practice and they would bring in the other rest of the documents. At the application time I didn’t see that there was anything specific about this one that I should have.”

Senator Elena Smith

“For the recommendation for approval to have been made by you it would have had to have all the necessary documentation.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“All the documentation.”

Senator Elena Smith

“So instances where it was said that the documents were brought after, how is it that those were recommended for approval if the documents were not there at the time.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“Because if you recall the report says that the applications were submitted without all the necessary documents it wasn’t vetted without all the necessary documents, it was vetted until the file was completed and the other documents were brought. Its not like the files were moved from my desk to the next desk with missing documents. Until the missing documents were brought in then the file would have been to my office with a view to go onto the next stage.”

Senator Elena Smith

“But in the case of Wong Hong Kim you…

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“Like I mentioned it was incomplete and the minister said that he was taking it on to the next level which is the director that is beyond my desk. “

According to Wade, Penner was not the only Minister who would regularly visit the Nationality Department.

 

Senator Elena Smith

“Mr.Wade what was read to you it said that you indicated that this was a usual practice of various ministers. Correct?

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“Yes Ma’am.”

Senator Elena Smith

“Could you indicate who you were referring to when you said various ministers?

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“What do you mean by calling names?

Senator Elena Smith

“Yes sir.”

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“During that period it was usual for ministers to come in and bring in application services at our department for their constituents.

Senator Elena Smith

“I don’t know who those ministers are, so you indicated that there were usual Ministers so who were those ministers?

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“ Like I mentioned there were several ministers there were Minister from Belmopan, Minister Saldivar, Minister Contreras, Minister Marin, Minister Heredia, Minister Castro.”

Senator Aldo Salazar

“When you say usual practice can you elaborate on that because what are you talking about.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“I think it is the senator that made the reference to where I said that this was the usual practice for ministers to bring in applications.

Senator Aldo Salazar

“I want you to elaborate on what practice you are referring to when you say that it is the usual practice.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“For them to bring in applications. They would be informed of what was missing and they would always promise to bring in the missing documents for which they did most of the time. That is what I referred to.”

Senator Aldo Salazar

“Was the application taken directly to you or did it go to …..

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“ As I mentioned before it was forwarded at the front desk at the acceptance clerk.”

Senator Aldo Salazar

“Right I’m not talking just about the Wong Hong Kim one I’m talking about in general.

Gordon Wade – Senior Immigration Officer

“In practice all the files would be taken to the clerk at the front.”

Wade is scheduled to appear next Wednesday for more questioning.