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Director of Immigration speaks on challenges Department faces

One of the challenges facing Immigration Director Diana Locke and her staff is the tones of documents that have to be processed. According to Locke, visa applications and other documents are being stored at the department, however space is running out. The immigration department will relocate to another building in Belmopan and Locke says taking the documents to that new building is not an option.

Director of Immigration – Diana Locke

“In respect to the permanent residents and the nationality files those are kept in a secure area. I think you all when you visited you saw that door was locked and it had to be opened first for us to access that room so those are stored there, there is a database that is maintained and we are in the process of reconciling that database against the actual files in the cabinet. I think this was done probably back in 2013 we are going through that exercise now to see if we can identify everything. We also currently have permanent residents and nationality files that are stored at the archive department. We are trying to make arrangements to retrieve those files and keep them on the premises with us because it’s something that we have to access almost on a daily basis and we have restrictions in accessing the documents we have at the archives so we’re making efforts to try to get those records on site with us. In addition the passport records we have a container that is air conditioned where the passport records are being stored; those records date back to 2005 to present we are running out of space. I am not sure at what point we are trying- I have approached the Auditor General and I have approached her if she can guide us as to what documents we can destroy if we can destroy any because we are running out of space in terms of storing passport records. Passport records are also stored overseas at the missions where the passports are issued, they are also stored at each of the stations that has a passport processing station so all those records are not kept in one location. Basically they are not in some cases properly stored and that is a risk that we are encountering but we have to try to work our way through them by getting them properly stored in boxes and it’s a whole project on its own.”

According to Locke, it is preferable that the documents be destroyed after being scanned and stored electronically.

 

Director of Immigration – Diana Locke

“We began that discussion already by writing to the Solicitor General’s office they gave us guidance and we are now in discussion with- well as I said I’ve mentioned it to the Auditor General but we also have to consult with the archives department and we are talking with them.”

Mark Lizarraga, Senator

“So what you’re saying is that there is no clarity in your mind at least that the law allows for safe keeping of these records electronically, on other words that you can scan them and save them instead of physically keeping them and perhaps that is one of the recommendations that we can make.”

Director of Immigration – Diana Locke

“The department has begun to scan the completed passport applications I think that effort started in Mid 2013 we have found that it has not been as accurate as we would have hoped but we continue to ensure that we scan. In scanning those records we keep them in a database where if that applicant comes back and they need to present us with any document to renew a passport we are in a position to search that database to see what was presented if anything has changed. And so we are making efforts to do that for all new applications that come to the department. It’s a little bit of an inconvenience for the public because sometimes we asked for them to bring back certain documents for us so that we can have that record but it’s for their own safety and their own protection.”