(CNS): Premier Alden McLaughlin has said that his ministry is considering the challenge that many local people face in proving that they are Caymanian by right when applying for work, which is seen by some as yet another barrier to employment for locals. Answering a parliamentary question from the member for East End during the Legislative Assembly last week McLaughlin, in his capacity as the minister responsible for immigration, acknowledged that it was difficult for some locals to prove that they are Caymanian, especially when they are asked for the first time later in life.
He said that it is easier for people who have been granted status to prove that they are Caymanian because they get a certificate. Caymanians by right, on the other hand, need to get a letter from the chief immigration officer, and to get that they need to produce a number of documents, including the birth certificates of their parents — and that process can take a considerable amount of time.
Cayman does not confer status on people just because they are born here and some people who are not yet Caymanian have a Cayman British Overseas Territories passport in order to avoid falling foul of the immigration law, but employers need to see proof that a local employee is Caymanian and does not need a permit.
McLaughlin said the issue of how locals prove their status is forming part of the overhaul of the immigration law as the human resource agency is developed, but he was unable to tell the Legislative Assembly when a solution would be adopted.
“This one is very difficult,” he said, adding that he has been in wide discussions about this because locals cannot rely on their birth certificate or passport as proof.
“We have to try to devise a means of easily and simply being able to determine the status of a person,” he said, pointing to the current burdensome process to access the certificate from the chief immigration officer.
He suggested that a longer term solution for the generation to come was for newborns to have their status confirmed at the time of birth, so it could be noted on their birth certificate that they are not just born here but that they are actually born to a Caymanian parent and have status by right. However, finding a simple solution for the shorter term was not so easy, he said.
The premier warned that without some way of proving someone is Caymanian, there was a danger that people who do not have the right to work without a permit could easily end up working without one. But, he said, the current process is challenging and takes too long, hence the effort to improve the process.
“We can’t do away with the requirement, otherwise we are opening the door for people who are not entitled to work in Cayman without a permit doing so,” he warned.
McLaughlin said that in the end the objective was to ensure those working outside of the immigration regime are truly Caymanians, as he warned of the problem of locals being disadvantaged in the job market, with workers without status securing jobs without a permit.
“There is no simple answer to this, otherwise it would have been sorted a long time ago,” he said, as he explained that there are no records at immigration about local people who are Caymanian by right, which is why it presents such a problem if locals cannot produce not only their own birth certificates but also their parents’.
Category: Local News