Viewpoint: The rights of Caymanian mothers

| 29/09/2015 | 50 Comments

Cayman News ServiceAn anonymous CNS reader writes an open letter to Cayman Islands lawmakers: Since you are once again attempting to fix the immigration law, may I suggest a change that will actually benefit Caymanians. Please fix the law so that Caymanian mothers are not discriminated against. Caymanian mothers who give birth overseas are denied the right to give their Caymanian nationality to their child. This sexist denial of a woman’s basic human right glares at you, and yet you have not addressed it.

There are Caymanian ‘children’ in their 60’s who are discovering that, after being recognized as Caymanians all their lives, suddenly the government (you) requires an application and birth certificates and affidavits and money (have I hit on the reason?) so that a paper can be issued — so they can be Caymanian. This blatant sexist discrimination and denial of a woman’s  basic human right is screaming for a fix.

In 1981 the Honourable Dennis Foster CVO CBE, then head of government, advised many Caymanians born overseas in the 1940’s and 1950’s (as was quite common) to apply for and pay for the paper being issued at that time to “prevent problems in the future”. Those who followed his advice are now discovering that it didn’t work. These Caymanians are having the problems that Mr Dennis predicted, despite his best efforts for his people. The Honourable Mr Dennis would be ashamed of you all.

A Caymanian mother has a Caymanian womb, no matter where she is at any moment in time. Her womb does not become a Jamaican womb if she is in Jamaica nor does it become a Canadian womb if she is in Canada. A baby born from that Caymanian womb, is a Caymanian. What part of this do you not understand?

A little piece of advice for lawmakers who would like to be re-elected: help Caymanians while you still have a chance. Human rights can no longer be ignored.

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  1. Sherika bush says:

    I was born in the cayman islands in 1988 to a Jamaica mother. I came to Jamaica when I was 2, and never went back since. Do I need a visa to go back there?

    CNS: I’m going to send your question to Ask Auntie.

  2. I am a "TRUE BLUE" Caymanian! says:

    Is the writer of the article referring to how immigration will automatically confrere status upon a Child through their father (Who can be anyone) but not from the mother’s lineage?
    If so I believe that law has changed.
    For example, somewhere up until the Late 80’s early 90’s (I think) a child would have to get their status from their Caymanian father. So whoever was listed on the birth certificate as father, if they were Caymanian the child would automatically have Caymanian citizenship. However if the father was not Caymanian a long tedious burden of proof ensued to prove the child had Caymanian citizenship. Also note back in those days the majority had nothing to do with wanting foreign citizenship but rather wanting proper medical attention!
    However beyond that there still is yet another black hole where “true blue” Caymanians born overseas to both Caymanian parents fell. It’s crazy that three siblings from the same parents are “true blue” Caymanians and two that were born overseas are “paper Caymanians”. Worst yet when immigration looses paperwork and refuse to recognize their own stamp and signature on an old passport and you are told to re-prove that you are Caymanian.
    So please before anyone jump too quick about how it is done elsewhere, understand that the process for older Caymanians born aboard can be a nightmare that can take years and lots of resources; financially, “who you know” and otherwise to resolve. I personally have had to go through years of red tape. I’ve dealt with countless immigration staff, the office of two deputy governors (thank God for Franz), a helpful MLA, and the deputy premier, and finally with a super knowledgeable immigration officer in order to sort out 15+ years of “oh you are no longer recognized as a Caymanian!” rubbish.
    So, I feel the author of the article. There is a lot more than meets the eye for older Caymanians, who all of a sudden are told they are now without a country of citizenship.
    Yes the immigration laws do need a serious overhaul in this regards.

    • Anonymous says:

      True Blue Caymanian, unfortunately Franz is no longer where we need him and everyone else is falling all over each other in order to be of no help. The whole thing is absurd. Telling life-long Caymanians that they need to be paper Caymanians now. As the writer of the viewpoint says it is because their mothers are discriminated against. I know of a Caymanian mother who got status for her children, who were born overseas, on the strength of her “British Overseas Territories Citizen Cayman Islands,” the document referred to, issued by Hon. Dennis Foster’s administration. Twenty five years later she was told she was no longer Caymanian because the BOTC Cayman Islands document was not acceptable as proof of ‘status’!

      • Anonymous says:

        A BOTC Passport has not been evidence of status since at least 1983. Being a BOTC is usually nothing to do with whether or not someone is Caymanian.

  3. Anonymous says:

    South Africa had a similarly obscure system during apartheid.

  4. Anonymous says:

    well at least the court has ruled that any Jamaican baby with a cayman father has all the rights as a Caymanian its a good thing that they don’t know this imagine all the jamaician babies coming back and expecting support from their Caymanian daddies it would drain the social services..and after all the cayman man wasn’t there to make babies just a quick booty call

  5. Anonymous says:

    My child was not born in Cayman for medical reasons. Upon our return, she entered as a tourist and I had to go to immigration and pay a fee. I’m not sure what the fuss is all about. It was inconvenient but expected.

    • Anonymous says:

      I did not know that American Passportitis was recognised as a medical condition.

    • Marcia says:

      Didn’t anyone hear about the anchor babies? Well, am a Caymanian mother with all American children who are now first generation Americans and when we go to Cayman they enter as visitors, so what? If they wanted to live in Cayman which they don’t, then I would adhere to the immigration law as it relates to ascertaining the proper documents for them to stay. Caymanian mother you have a lot more to worry about and being that Cayman is not for Caymanians be happy your children have somewhere else to call home.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m Caymanian and both my boys are born Americans. They both have cayman status, cayman passports, UK passports as well as US passports. I chose this for them so they have options and if I were to chose for them to get rid of one of their citizenship’s, my first choice would be cayman. Does this make me a bad Caymanians mother?

    • Anonymous says:

      No, no it doesn’t…. we’re losing Cayman as we know it and maybe it will be to your advantage to give you children options as this places sinks deeper and faster.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would anyone in their right mind want to keep the American citizenship? Since FATCA people are relinquishing citizenship left right and center.

        • Anonymous says:

          The only issue I find with FATCA is now I have to spend money to pay an accountant to do my taxes. Otherwise, all good. I’m not the same person above. I don’t have my UP passport yet but plan on getting it.

  7. Kittygirl says:

    I look at this from the position of an American Mother, married to a Caymanian father. Our children were all born in Cayman. I had to apply for Consular Birth Abroad documentation for them, and pay fees for them to American citizens. We also had to pay to travel to the States, on Cayman passports, to obtain social security numbers for them. Which involved driving for hours to a regional SS office, and waiting in line for hours, with pee stinking scammer indigents, to be grilled by a mid level bureaucrat. I can assure you, the process was less than fun. But, if I want my children to be born in a country that is not that of their citizenship I expect a bit of paper work and inconvenience. Unless the fees are excessive, I do not see the need to whine.

  8. Rubber Stamp says:

    As is usually the case, the problem lies with Immigration Department personnel having no understanding of the Immigration Law.

    Before getting in line, you have to arm yourself with a full and complete understanding of your rights so that you can point them in the right direction or insist that they go to a supervisor. Otherwise, they will tell you all sorts of nonsense.

    • Anonymous says:

      This comment hits the nail on the head! I cannot believe how little the “immigration officers” know about the Immigration Law it is surreal!

  9. Anonymous says:

    The writer plainly does not understand the law. Having a Caymanian mother is only part of what determines whether someone is Caymanian. Domicile, nationality, and residence are all factors which can determine whether a particular child is or is not Caymanian. Place of birth is usually irrelevant, however. A Caymanian born overseas is no less Caymanian than one born here.

    • Anonymous says:

      True thing ask Hon Rivers, Kurt Tibet’s, CG etc………..

    • Anonymous says:

      This is exactly the point the writer was referring to. There are Caymanians who have lived here since childhood, recognized as Caymanian since childhood, who applied for their required documents over thirty years ago, who are now being told they do not have ‘Cayman Status.’ These Caymanians, from generations old families, have magically become non-Caymanians and now are required to apply to become Caymanian. They have fallen into the black hole of our Immigration policy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tough. Might help them empathise with the abused driftwood.

      • Anonymous says:

        If they do not have Cayman Status they are not Caymanian. It is having Cayman Status, whether by grant or by right, that makes someone Caymanian.

        • Anonymous says:

          And that is why ‘true Caymanians’ call you driftwood. A true Caymanian loves these Islands and does not go home for Christmas, but rather, goes home every night.

          • Anonymous says:

            Except I am not driftwood. I am Caymanian, which means I have status – exactly as Mr. Benson defined it in 1971.

          • Anonymous says:

            I thought the whole point about getting status and be naturalized was to make it easier to leave the place.

    • Just Commentin' says:

      Now that is the pot calling the kettle black! You plainly do not understand the basic issue: the salient points are: the gender-biased disrespect of Caymanian motherhood contained in our immigration laws; how “Caymanian” is defined; and the criteria for obtaining official recognition as being “Caymanian”.

  10. Anonymous says:

    It has been almost a “tradition” for Caymanian mothers to give birth abroad, “abroad” actually meaning the United States so the children can obtain a U.S. passport. As this was their decision they can’t complain about the local consequences, which incidentally includes the children having to file U.S. tax returns.

    • SAM says:

      Not unless they have the US connected source of income. A Caymanian with the US connected source of income would have the requirement to file the US tax return.

      • SSM345 says:

        SAM, if you have a US Passport, you are subject to US Tax, it does not matter if your income is connected to the US you complete eejit. And even then you are only subject to paying taxes if your salary meets a certain threshold which I believe is US$90K per year. Ever heard of FATCA?

      • Wrong. If you’re a US citizen you must file a tax return while living abroad regardless of the source of income. Even if you’re dual nationality, you still have to file a return or renounce your citizenship.

      • Anonymous says:

        SAM that is absolutely not true. EVERY US citizen living abroad must file a tax return no matter what. I am a Caymanian with both passports and I must file every year or be penalized. I don’t make enough to have to pay any taxes but I must file. If they find me before I file, the penalties are worse. And FACTA?! Big penalties if you don’t file that yearly and on time.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Cayman immigration laws have changed many times, the only advice I can give to everyone is to make sure you apply, as soon as you are elligible, for everything you are entitled to. Also make sure of your childs immigration status once they are 18, as whatever they were granted as a child will likely need to be re-confirmed as an adult.

  12. Too Anonymous says:

    Sorry ladies, you can’t have the cake and eat it too. Unless you need a complicated procedure to deliver your child, then you need to decide beforehand what nationality you wish for them. The law can’t bend and flex willy-nilly because you have an identity crisis.

  13. Anonymous says:

    As a Caymanian mother, I had my children overseas. I came home, went to immigration, submitted an application with the required supporting documentation and paid $50 for each of them to be acknowledged as Caymanians. The process was far less complicated than applying for a US birth certificate and US passport for them.

    • Anonymous says:

      You ought not to have paid any fee. The fee is only payable if your children are Caymanian by entitlement (ie. you became Caymanian after they were born and they have lived in Cayman for a year). Your children are likely Caymanian as of Right and the fact of their birth overseas is irrelevant in the circumstances.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve had to pay a fee for my children. It is nothing outlandish. It is what keeps people employed. It is a process.

        My child is caymanian by right. Maybe it made the process less onerous or less costly. Interesting enough when I had to do the same for her dual citizenship from the country which I also hold dual citizenship, the process was much more costly and onerous. I don’t understand why this is a complaint. Does the writer not get off the rock?

        • Anonymous says:

          That is not the problem. The problem is that the Immigration Regulations prescribe a fee for persons who seek confirmation that they are Caymanian by Entitlement. There is no fee in relation to persons who are Caymanian as of Right and need evidence of that from Immigration.

      • Anonymous says:

        They were born to a Caymanian mother at birth and had not lived here before.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Why would a mother refuse to put a father’s name on the BC? How about the “fathers” who refuse to sign the BC and own up to the children they make?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Just driftwood.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious how its is so called “discrimination” or “sexist denial” but you must follow the same process anywhere else in the World if you give birth to a child outside of your home country. But you are fine to get citizenship from the country the child is born in, but Cayman is the only country in the world that denies this.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not quite true, according to wiki (jus soli), 30 countries out of 194 automatically apply citizenship based on being born in the country, the rest do as we do, applying some sort of right through parental lines.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wrong. Very few countries bestow citizenship based simply on where you are born. England, Jamaica and Canada do not. Why should Cayman?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Also, local children who are born here (or overseas) are being discriminated against by moms who refuse to put the “Name of Father” on the birth certificates.
    This is embarrassing and leads to legal problems for the children when they grow up.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Sorry I am confused, what exactly is currently the process and what do you suggest it to be?

    I am a foreigner, gave birth to both of my children in Cayman. In order for them to be recognized as citizen of my home country I had to fill out a set of paperwork, file the documentation and arrange a “birth announcement” with the respective authorities and pay the associated fees for them to be recognized.

    Are you saying the process here is different?

    • Anonymous says:

      The Immigration Law cannot confer nationality. Sorry, but our politicians can’t fix this one.

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