Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway says trust and confidence in immigration services have been damaged, but the bigger problem is whether he and the Prime Minister have been damaged.
And he has done nothing to counter that view.
He was already on the back foot after admitting he made his decision to grant residency to Karel Sroubek in about 45 minutes and without reading the entire 398-page case file.
It's not so much that this was improper - it was the usual way ministers decided immigration cases. But the perception is of a minister being less than diligent in letting a drug-smuggler with a history of violence and gang associations walk the streets of New Zealand.
It also turned out that Sroubek, who claimed to be scared for his life if he were deported, had been back to the Czech Republic in 2009, and that the Minister was oblivious to this information, even though it was in a public court document.
And the Minister's decision today that Sroubek should be deported on supposedly new grounds leaves himself open to further political attack, because the key information was already in the original 12-page summary. The minister had apparently granted a reprieve to Sroubek while staring at information that showed Sroubek should have been denied entry from the beginning.
Jacinda Ardern has had to wear some of the damage after she backed Lees-Galloway from the beginning, when she invited the public to "read between the lines".
She backed away as the debacle continued to unfold, but came back into the fray by insisting that the Immigration NZ review be reported back before the three-week deadline - only to then have to sit back while four weeks floated by.
In the interim, as Lees-Galloway kept silent because of possible future legal action, National filled the void as Simon Bridges, Paula Bennett, Michael Woodhouse and Mark Mitchell all stepped up with bombshell allegations. An alleged burglary on a house Sroubek had a financial interest in. Threatening phone calls to Sroubek's estranged wife. A witness protection programme after an encounter with Sroubek.
Some sympathy for Lees-Galloway is understandable.
Forty five minutes and reading the main parts of a huge case file is standard procedure.
Immigration NZ claimed it could not use the court file that showed Sroubek's travel to the Czech Republic, because it was information divulged in a case where Sroubek was acquitted.
Lees-Galloway doesn't know every section of the Immigration Act. Officials told him that Sroubek was liable for deportation because of his drug-smuggling conviction and for using a false identity - nothing about potentially being an excluded person who should never have been allowed into the country.
But the public won't see it that way. They will just see an undeserving case getting special treatment, a case against which all future ones will be measured.