Immigration collects $365k in WP fines

| 17/06/2016 | 23 Comments
Cayman News Service

Cayman Islands Department of Immigration

(CNS): The acting chief immigration officer has revealed that his enforcement team collected almost $365,000 in administrative fines from just over $372,000 that was imposed during this fiscal year, most of it for work permit infractions. Bruce Smith said 537 people were brought into the immigration department for questioning, 126 people were arrested and another 354 were handed fines instead of going to court over the 11 months from 1 July last year until the beginning of this month.

Answering questions in Finance Committee Thursday morning, as legislators began scrutinising the premier’s home affairs ministry, there were numerous questions over the $2.47 million budget for immigration enforcement but not one legislator asked about the $267,000 allocated for the next 18 months to process permanent residency and status certificates in the face of the board’s failure to grant any PR applications since 2014.

Talking about enforcement, Smith told the committee that his team was doing its best to investigate all reports of breaches regarding immigration laws. Using intelligence and other strategies to be more deliberate in their approach, he said that whenever it came to the department’s attention, they pursued the complaints to the best of their ability to ensure appropriate action was taken. The acting immigration boss said his department worked with other agencies and conducted covert operations to investigate allegations of immigration crimes.

He also said that the department was being very careful with whistleblowers and ensuring that those who come forward are protected. Smith explained that the compliance unit has actively been involved in dealing with complaints relating to individuals and companies that are of a sensitive nature and ensure that those individuals brave enough to come forward are not exposed and the complaints they make are not going on their files.

He acknowledged that there were people taking out permits for individuals who were not necessarily doing the work stipulated under the permit grants. Responding to allegations from one member that there are overseas nationals on permits for what appeared to be genuine jobs but in reality they were selling numbers, Smith said the person taking out the permit was at risk of prosecution as well as the permit holder for breaking the gambling laws.

Smith also reassured legislators that, despite the lack of a biometric system, the border control arm of immigration was using numerous other sources of intelligence, such as passport readers and cooperation with regional law enforcement agencies, to advance passenger information lists to keep out the wrong people.

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Category: Crime, Government Finance, Immigration, Politics

Comments (23)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a load of crap…I’ve tried reporting infractions but they don’t even respond…the fines must be from going after companies competing with the businesses of cronies. The department has no leadership and their only mandate is permit fee collection. There are good people there but they are definitely not in management. But they will all get at least 2.2% bonus for their performan….I mean votes.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Can there be a website to provide anonymous tips where whistleblowers can get paid for providing the information, similar to crime stoppers?

    If this is implemented, I can guarantee there will be no more immigration infractions.

    • Anonymous says:

      No. The higher ups will still protect their friends and influential businesses.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’ll certainly be more Caymanians being reported, I’d do it for free.
      But this post just illustrates the poisonous mindset of those who put money in front of civic duty. Stop being a money grabbing loser and report any genuine wrongdoing out of moral obligation, not because someone will give you free cash for making an unsubstantiated accusation. That’s why this island is in the mess it’s in, the ‘money for nothing’ mindset that has seen the vast majority of premium land sold to developers. And now you whinge because you’re outnumbered by those from off of the island and the only way you think you can rid yourself of them is by making anonymous calls to immigration.
      What an idiot, it’s too late bobo, you’ve already sold out.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Enough to cover couple of MLAs salary then? yet they want to claim we NEED this money

  4. Anonymous says:

    A tool for extortion and punishment of good people used by locals to punish those that speak out

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just a drop in the bucket. Caymanians cant make a living. Expats who share legitimate businesses with caymanians cant make a living. So many permits are offered to fill goverment coffers that goverment want the money and the small business owners suffer. Want your yard painted. Grab a phlip flop or a jammie for 8 bucks an hour. Then complain there is no work available.. then blame expats for the low wages. But all caymanians hire the cheapest labor. ? Kick long serving expats off and replace them with a flip flop then watch that fella recruit his boys for your job in cayman. its all going to crap my friends and the middle class is disappearing. So as a caymanian. Be prepared If your not rich already. You will be poor. If you are rich already. Then just keep up the good work. All you friends will be screwed soon.just saying. Its all in the works. The whole system is a farce.

    • Anonymous says:

      Whilst the central core of your viewpoint is sound, (Caymanians won’t pay for Caymanians to work for them because they prefer to exploit those on low wages) your description of those who are the exploited is disgraceful.
      Philipinos and Jamaicans are some of the hardest working people on this island. They pick up your crap, they tidy your yards, they even bring up your kids for you.
      To refer to them in such a derogatory and disrespectful manner is openly racist and indicative on the general attitude towards foreign workers on Cayman by ordinary Caymanians and their over bloated, self serving, double dipping and criminally over paid MLA’s.

      Still, at least that’s Ezzards and Ardens salary and pension sorted for a year or two. You must be thrilled to see it going to such good use.

      • Anonymous says:

        Agreed., one should not be racist but I think you also probably have to have a little understanding that this commentator has likely been dropped from the middle class to the lower middle class and on the way to the poor class. Therefore, I think asking him to have class would be too much, likely struggling to keep the electricity on.

        Anyways, the writing and it is reflected in the political mess that is in North America, Europe and most western democracies of which Cayman derives it culture. The wheels are coming off and coming off fast (British MP killed). Debt, debt, debt and not an ounce of compassion but they expect political correctness. hmmmmm…they don’t go together. Expect anything right now…(ahhhmm for example Donald Trump) Lesson one, when in a crisis everything goes out the window even correctness and we are almost in crisis mode..–> apparently this commentator is already there because if he was not he probably wouldn’t be speaking in such nasty terms about his fellow human knowing how

        The key is to stash cash at a fast rate and don’t you dare go to the bank for a loan for anything. If you are middle class , live like you are poor if poor find a way not to even pay rent and live in the bush. Save like 30% of your income for a rainy day and purchase CUC stocks, gold and silver and productive farm land if you can.- All cash is key. If your rich, well find somewhere same to be when the mobs come out

  6. Anonymous says:

    I hope government saves the $365K to cover the PR fees they are holding for applicants who won’t be getting PR.

  7. Beryl Bush says:

    And don’t forget it is “possibly” a large area of corruption!

  8. Kenny says:

    Wow I’m so impressed. But does this mean that all those talk show hosts and posters who have been saying that there is no enforcement in Government was horribly misinformed.

    • Anonymous says:

      No, it proves the fact that callers claiming that there are hundreds of foreign nationals here illegally and in breach of the immigration law are absolutely correct.

      • Anonymous says:

        And the sad reality is that the numbers detected and fined by immigration does not even scratch the surface in these lawless Caymanas.

        • Anonymous says:

          Alden, with that level of breaches detected do you understand why Caymanian/Expat relations are under pressure? It is good that immigration is finally taking some real enforcement action but is has been much too slow coming. There are some very good people there and I hope they have now been trul empowered to do their jobs and that this is not like roadworks and will actually continue, including after the elections!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hmm, with approximately 30k expat workers on this island, 354 is hardly an outbreak of serious immigration abuse. The numbers don’t even tell us how many infractions were small or technical breaches and which ones were very serious breaches of immigration law. Of the 500+ dragged in for questioning, nearly 200 walked out without facing enforcement action. Doesn’t say a lot for the ‘intelligence’ that leads to innocent people being cross examined, I dare say it’s more to do with poisonous and petty jealousies streaming into the immigration offices than it is concrete proof of wrong doing.

        It also doesn’t highlight one of the most serious breaches perpetrated by Caymanians.
        That is the holding of a work permit for financial gain and not for employment, in other words someone working for themselves whilst being held to ransom by a crooked Caymanian. Many of these people hold several WP’s and have absolutely no interest in the recipients activities.

        It also doesn’t mention those who take employment in good faith, only to be told that their Caymanian employer hasn’t fulfilled their obligation to seek lawful WP’s for them.
        Perhaps immigration enforcement should walk into a few of the property management and landscaping companies and demand to talk to ALL of their employees and inspect WP’s.

        Perhaps when Caymanians are investigated with the apparent vigour that the expat WP recipient is exposed to, then we can have more confidence in this already discredited system.
        Caymanians are good at throwing mud around, but they are some of the worst examples of immigration abuse and should be exposed for the hypocracy they wallow in.

        • Anonymous says:

          Serious immigration abuse is in the Islands’ DNA. It is not an outbreak only because the degree and extent of breaches is already so well established. 354 cases being identified by an understaffed and under resourced immigration enforcement arm is shocking – but everyone working in the area would likely admit that the numbers operating in breach are likely at least ten times those detected and prosecuted.

  9. Anonymous says:

    354 Persons caught committing offences, the majority of whom expatriate. The problem is enormous and the penalties do not seem sufficient to create a culture of compliance.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Deliberately impeding the timely response to those applying for, or appealing, PR decisions is ultimately going to create enormous unintended dilution for short-sighted “Caymanian patriots” appealing to equally myopic xenophobes. Suspending the lawful track to citizenship for those qualified and making solid contributions is rude, illegal, creates unnecessary hardships, and it will create another wave of unintended residents qualifying on ECHR “Right of Abode” grounds, rather than being sent on their way many years ago, as many surely otherwise would have been. If McKeeva Bush owned the much lamented Status Grants of 2003, then Alden McLaughlin should wear this one, and this should be a front page voter topic going into May 2017.

  11. Anonymous says:

    The Immigration Department is a massive cash cow for Govt. The problem is that Govt just pockets the millions in fees and does not invest in the Department. So it creaks along using paper files and outdated computer systems, as well as volunteer boards that don’t have enough time to deal with the volume of work.

    All in all, one big mess that no longer effectively serves the country.

    • Unison says:

      Listen. It’s all about the high figures. The figures make the heads of the Immigration Department look good. But those staff doing the ground works are asking for higher salaries and/or better equipments … and they are not getting it. Then again it must start with our MLAs. It seems like government financially supports the RCIP more than the Immigration department who is in charge of protecting our borders. :/

      • Anonymous says:

        RCIP, Immigration and Customs are a combined border protection force. Most immigration officers are pen pushers or desk clerks with little else to do other than shuffle paper.
        As with most government jobs, it is just an oversized and inefficient department full of those who just go through the motions for the sake of employment with perceived power and a non contributory pension and healthcare system.
        The unnecessary bureaucratic nightmare that is the immigration system is totally unfit for purpose. So much of the system could be handled online and by merging of systems.

        For a start, why do WP applicants have to physically go to the police criminal records office to get a stupid piece of paper which is basically meaningless unless you have been convicted of a crime in Cayman. So in reality you will need to be either Caymanian or very lucky to have not been removed from the island by enforcement, both fairly unlikely in the circumstances. How many productive hours are lost by the CI employers and employees waiting around in inefficient and unnecessary government buildings, it’s an outrage?

        Why doesn’t Immigration have access to the online records and do a quick check when processing the documentation before issuing the permit? But no, that would mean getting rid of those happy smiling ladies on Walkers road who just add that something special to an already grim process. Why make the government smoother to manage when you can employ people to do very little at public expense?

      • Anonymous says:

        The figures also prove that the fines are on average very low. Given that fines are calculated by reference to the cost of the work permit, it appears that there is either little immigration fraud in higher positions, or a reluctance to investigate.

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