UK rep’s troubles stir up long-running status issues

| 09/05/2022 | 145 Comments
Cayman News Service
Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia

(CNS): Questions surrounding Dr Tasha Ebanks-Garcia’s legal situation as a Cayman Islands Government employee in the UK have served to reignite long-running concerns over the battles Caymanians have in some circumstances with their immigration status. Ebanks-Garcia is unquestionably Caymanian, but speculation about her official status in London apparently came to light last year when she was posted to the UK without the correct immigration documentation to allow her to work there.

CNS was contacted last month by a Caymanian living in the UK, who said that Ebanks-Garcia did not have a British passport. The source said that the ministry with responsibility for the London Office at the time, headed by Eric Bush, did not complete the due diligence before she was appointed as Cayman’s representative in the UK in March 2021.

Although officials told CNS on Monday that the “situation was now being addressed”, it seems that she was originally dispatched to London on a Canadian passport.

As a Caymanian, she is entitled to a British Overseas Territories Citizen passport. As a BOTC, she could then apply for and would almost certainly obtain a British passport. This would allow her legally live and work in the UK, but without it, she would require a work visa. Instead, she appears to have gone to the UK as a visitor.

Ebanks-Garcia is not the first Caymanian to struggle with immigration issues. Due to the complexities of the immigration law, there are many ways that people who are born and raised in Cayman with direct Caymanian lineage can still fall foul of the immigration system. This is especially so where parents are unmarried or are immigrants who, after securing status themselves, failed for myriad reasons to secure the same status for their children, who then find themselves stateless.

Often labelled “ghost Caymanians”, hundreds of people have slipped through numerous failed efforts by successive governments to regularize their status.

The situation surrounding Ebanks-Garcia, who is a Caymanian, fuelled an outpouring on social media Monday, with people telling story after story on various forums about challenges relating to immigration issues. But while it is clear that successive governments have failed to straighten out Cayman’s immigration laws, this particular example should not have been difficult to resolve if the due diligence had been done.

The failure of the ministry to secure the required visa before Ebanks-Garcia left for the UK leads to the implication that the Cayman government’s UK representative was working in Britain for some time without the correct papers. CNS has contacted Ebanks-Garcia, who is currently in Cayman, and her former boss, Eric Bush, about how this situation arose, and we are awaiting a response.

Last month, when CNS first sent inquiries about this issue to senior officials, we were told emphatically that there was no problem with Ebanks-Garcia’s immigration status in the UK and that the story sounded like a smear campaign. However, our source had insisted the information was accurate.

We continued our efforts to verify the claims officially and they were finally confirmed on Monday by a government official. This came only after Cayman Marl Road posted details of its own struggle to get a comment from anyone in authority about these allegations.

The government official told CNS today that responsibility for this lay with the Cabinet Office but was at the time the ministry for trade and investment. But we were told that the management in the former ministry had responsibility for dealing with the immigration issues relating to staff in the London Office but that the cabinet secretary now had the matter in hand.

It is understood that Ebanks-Garcia has since been naturalized but is still waiting for a BOTC passport.

Ebanks-Garcia is a Canadian citizen through her mother but also has Caymanian status as the daughter of Captain Bryan Ebanks. She grew up in Cayman and went to the Cayman Islands High School before going to college in the United States, where she went on to complete a PhD in psychology.

She joined the civil service in 2013 as a deputy chief officer in the Ministry of Education and was appointed to the London office just over a year ago after previously heading up Travel Cayman.

Since this article was published, Chief Officer Bush has sent the following information: “I understand the Cabinet Office is preparing a statement, which will seek to clarify the chain of events, etc.”

Corrections: The article previously said that the financial services ministry had oversight of the London Office. However, since the elections in 2021, it is the Cabinet Office that has oversight. The article also previously stated that BOTC passport holders did not need a visa to work in the UK. This is incorrect. See here.


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Category: Local News

Comments (145)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    My only thoughts on this is whether Franz will ever stop covering for Eric..

    Franz calls it a world class civil service but does nothing to curb this level and type of incompetence…

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Who the hell calls themselves Dr if they aren’t a medical doctor anyway?

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    • Anonymous says:

      Anyone with a PhD — a proper doctor!

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      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly! If you have a PHD you are also a doctor! You think “doctors ” are only medical doctors. Dentists are doctors as well. Some of you to go sit in the corner and read a book!!

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        • Anonymous says:

          There are other types of professional doctorates such as an Educational Doctorate(EdD), Business Administration Doctorate (DBA), Science Doctorate etc. Just have a Google.

    • Anonymous says:

      Imagine that. She’s on a plane and someone goes into cardiac arrest and they call for a Dr.
      “Did your parents reject you when you were a child?”

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  3. Anonymous says:

    It literally took me 15 seconds to Google if a BOTC could work in the UK. The first hit is the uk government website and is very clear that we can not.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Ummm, she wasn’t even a BOTC when she started…

      Googling whether Canadians can live and work in the UK only takes 5 seconds.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if those defending this lady on the basis that she is “hard working” and “intelligent” would be so supportive of a Canadian coming *here* and working without a permit? I suspect the reply would involve the ever welcoming “not letting the door hit you on the way out”.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    This is mind boggling – does this mean that she didn’t do her own due diligence? She always seemed to be an authority on everything else. How many foibles of Eric Bush and co., must we endure?

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Just the fact that’s she’s not traveling on a “Cayman” passport should have clued them on that there could be issues. Not that a BOTC passport means you can just pop up in UK and work but that might have been an understandable “mistake”.

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    • Anonymous says:

      Yeah, and it is not like she’s a teenager on a gap year, this is supposed to be her field of expertise and getting it right is supposed to be her full time occupation. She should be fired and Sam Rose too.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Eric Bush hired Tasha Garcia and was the Chief Officer in charge for the interviewing process, hiring process, due diligence review and overseas offices not Sam Rose. Rose only took over after the general elections after the ppm were replaced by pact.

        This is an embarrassing moment just another Eric special assisted by Tasha who should know better but got caught out.

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        • Anonymous says:

          MITIAMA (Aldart and Eric) did the hiring of Taasha Ebanks Garcia and SIGNED her contract.

          If they had a training programme why didn’t they pass it to the other Ministry.

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      • Anonymous says:

        Indeed. Shows utter incompetence, or perhaps utter ignorance, or perhaps even utter arrogance.

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  7. Anonymous says:

    This is too funny …. talk about embarrassing. When you can’t even make sure your own immigration status in your host country is correct when a key aspect of your position is to advise and help Caymanians in the UK who have settlement issues. Its hard to feel sorry for such stupidity. Hope its been reported to the home office or I am sure it was them who sent her back to Cayman to sort it out. Honestly …. we need to do better than this …. the level of incompetence is alarming on basic professional activities.

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  8. Anonymous says:

    The UK PM and chancellor were US green card holders

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  9. Anonymous says:

    I’m confused. Wasn’t she Miss Cayman in the 90s? If she was traveling around the world representing Cayman back then wouldn’t her Caymanian status, or lack of, have been an issue?

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    • Anonymous says:

      This fiasco is way above what her Caymanian status is or isn’t. She needs British citizenship to be working in the UK or needs a work visa.

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    • Corruption is endemic says:

      She is Caymanian. You don’t need a Caymanian passport to have Status.

      Many Caymanians are running around with stamps in another passport as being Caymanian is not a nationality, it is a status.

      But she does needs British Citizenship or a Visa to legally work in the UK. So this is another world class move by our C.S.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Does someone working with a government in another country require a visa? Wouldn’t they be considered a diplomat?

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