Irene Martin, the Immigration field director that heads the San Bernardino U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office has been nominated for a prestigious award, the Secretary’s Award for Valor. This is the same person that tried to prevent five Department of Homeland Security agents from arresting a suspect involved in the San Bernardino terrorist attack on December 3, 2015 within 24 hours of the shooting.

The suspect in particular was Enrique Marquez, who is charged with supplying the couple with weapons and plotting additional attacks.

According to the DHS Inspector General’s report, Irene Martin refused to allow the DHS agents to search for the suspect and arrest him. The report also indicates she lied to investigators.

“The agents told her they were looking for Marquez because he was connected to the shootings and there was concern that he could be in the building. The Field Office Director told the agents they were not allowed to arrest, detain, or interview anyone in the building based on USCIS policy, and that she would need to obtain guidance from her superior before allowing them access.”

“We concluded that the USCIS Field Office Director at the San Bernardino office improperly delayed HSI agents from conducting a lawful and routine law enforcement action, but when the Field Office Director elevated the situation to her supervisors, the situation was corrected. We found that the contract security personnel improperly prevented HSI personnel from entering the building.”

“We have also concluded that the Field Office Director was not candid with OIG investigators during her interview.”

Fox News reported that the award nomination was mentioned on an internal USCIS conference call.

Department of Homeland Security officials declined to say what Martin did to merit consideration for the award, which is described as “the highest departmental recognition for extraordinary acts of valor by an employee or group, occurring while on or off duty” and is reserved for “those who have demonstrated extraordinary courage in a highly dangerous, life-threatening situation or emergency under extreme stress and involving a specific act of valor, such as saving another person’s life or property.”

Past valor award recipients include government employees who have saved people from burning cars, sinking ships and weapon-wielding assailants. was told the information could only be released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, which has been lodged.

Pending the information from the FOIA request, the merit behind the award is questionable given the findings of the DHS IG report. Why hide behind a FOIA for such a prestigious award? Was the award related to the San Bernardino case? The lack of transparency surrounding this award will only draw negative attention and create more controversy.