Immigration law a problem, premier admits

| 02/05/2017
Cayman News Service

Premier Alden McLaughlin on the campaign trail

(CNS Election): The leader of the Progressives is increasingly indicating that resolving the problems surrounding immigration legislation will form a central part of his government’s agenda if he gets a second chance to lead a PPM administration. Premier Alden McLaughlin, who has headed up the home affairs ministry over the last four years that includes immigration, has said the current system is not working the way it should and the time has come to change the work permit system. 

The proposed changes to immigration are expected to be detailed in the party’s manifesto, which officials say will be available next week at a specific meeting to launch the Progressives’ policy agenda.

But over the last few weeks on the campaign trail McLaughlin has spoken increasingly about plans to make significant changes to what he has described as an incredibly confusing system.

“The work permit application system can’t cope… as over 60,000 applications are made every year… hence why we are moving work permit applications away from immigration to be dealt with by a properly resourced authority,” he said at the Chamber of Commerce forum last week, as he answered a question about work permits and fees.

He said the PPM’s planned change would also help officials monitor “some of the games being played by employers”, as he pointed to a need for greater transparency and much better enforcement. “We must have a better system that is expeditious but where Caymanian are considered first and foremost. I do not think we can safely say that is the case now.”

McLaughlin also described a unique situation in Cayman where local people feel there are not enough jobs, or at least good jobs, available to them, while 20,000 workers are here on permits. The premier said a combination of factors led to this situation, including a local skills gap, but he said employers were still “not making a great enough effort to give locals opportunities”.

The economic downturn, McLaughlin said, was the turning point when the attitude of employers switched from an acceptance that the quid pro quo for the work permits was taking on and training local workers to an insistence that they would only employ people who fit an exact description of a job. He said employers now complained about the cost of training people and say they cannot afford it, nor do they believe it is their role.

Placing the work permit issue at the top of the party policy agenda, McLaughlin is talking about wide-reaching reform.

But the Progressives featured the “rationalization of our immigration policy and processes” in its manifesto for the 2013 General Election. The party said then that it would review and reform the way in which work permits and licences were processed, that it would cut bureaucracy, eliminate the system of boards so permits would be dealt with administratively, and investigate the viability of separating work permits from border control, among other detailed policy pledges.

However, the changes that the PPM government made were confined to abolishing the seven-year term limit on permits and the concept known as rollover, paving the way for all foreign workers to apply for permanent residency, and removing the key employee status that had previously been required to allow permit holders to stay past the seven-year term limit.

The aim was to make the application for PR more challenging. Those who failed to make the grade would be forced to leave, while successful applicants could go on to apply for status.

The change to the law in October 2013 resolved the problem created by the term limit extension permits but a legal challenge created a new problem. When the chief justice ruled that the permanent residency point system was unfair and arbitrary, the processing of PR applications froze, leaving what could now be a backlog of 1,000 applications.

Embroiled for some two years in the controversy, compounded by the government’s fight to keep a review by local attorney David Ritch about immigration under wraps, the PPM administration made no further headway on what has become an increasingly unworkable system that is helping neither local workers nor employers.

See the PPM 2013 Manifesto in the CNS Library

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Category: Candidates, Political parties

Comments (67)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    All expats that complain about Cayman ,if Cayman is so bad, just leave.

  2. An expat says:

    It’s a really difficult subject. I am an expat who has been here for over a decade. Most of my friends are Caymanian and tell me I am Caymanian at heart. I can’t afford to apply for PR, so won’t.

    It IS a ridiculous situation that there are so many Caymanians unemployed. I loathe the BS ‘Caymanians don’t want to work’ rhetoric. All the Caymanians I have worked with are the same as the expats – some amazing, some average, some could improve. Same as expats! I do think things would improve if the management of these huge firms in the financial services industry weren’t pretty much entirely made up of arrogant, charmless white British men. It would be a start.

    In a way, even though I will get rolled over very soon, I lean more towards the side of less work permits, more opportunities for Caymanians. The only thing that makes me a little bit sad is that all my children were born here and lived here their entire lives, and yet will never be legit residents.

    But it’s a unique wonderful place and we should all just be excellent to each other.

    Peace n love

  3. Anonymous says:

    Immigration system broken? No shit Sherlock…

  4. Anonymous says:

    Caymanians don’t want anyone to get Status or PR. They are deeply afflicted with the cake and eat it disease. They are spoiled rotten by their present system of revenue from…mainly ….offshore finance and that will be gone soon and a tourism product that gets worse as every year goes by. Eventually there will be no revenue to support their ridiculous airline (in a country of about 20,000 born Caymanians) and massive government employees. Reality is coming soon.

    • Anonymous says:

      I disagree. Myself, and many other voting Caymanians understand that blocking human and civil rights translates into fertile lawsuit territory, that winds up in a costly and avoidable settlement, paid out of our collective wallet. This weakens us tremendously as a territory and fuels our unaddressed social problems through ongoing “lack of resources”. This stubborn foolishness will hopefully be diluted by reasonable-thinking “paper” and “new generation” Caymanians in time. >50% of our modern electorate is new post-Ivan (and post 2003 status grants). Populist and religious-blinded candidates fail to understand this documented reality – that things change.

      • Lightning McQueen says:

        Yes demographic replacement. That’s why they were upset st mckeeva.

    • Anonymous says:

      True the tourism product gets worse year after year because the industry has a majority of expats handling it. They are only there to make money and then leave.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A reminder to the Gentleman. It was his governments lack of action on the problem everyone was aware of that has caused the urgent need for action now. what he is saying translates to: “We have urgently address this situation if elected because we have sat on our donkeys doing nothing for this four year term. I might also ad that they are not telling the people what is really going on. As they refuse to release the Rich report.. If they feel the people can not be trusted to hear the ugly truth. Then I feel they can be trusted with our country for another term.

  6. Anonymous says:

    As long as it does not force business to dilute talent to recruit the mediocre it is workable. As there is no real unemployment in Cayman there is no need to tinker with the regime too much.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Wonder if he’d like to comment on rumours that the sky is blue and the sea is wet?

  8. Observer says:

    Alden please shut your mouth. After four years you only now know that the immigration law needs to be fixed. Do you think we are stupid???

  9. Anonymous says:

    The best ignorance is the one that does nothing. Remember when Bush was King? Please vote for McLaughlin again.

  10. Fed says:

    I am impressed with the quality of posts and responses. Many understand the situation at risk and what should have been fixed by now and worst what has not. We must focus on the current and bigger picture. As some one as so well said in his or her comment : As anyone even considered how many people more we plan to fit on our Grand Cayman Island not mentioning all the vehicules and our youth growing etc.( my words.)Learned a lot and proud to read the posts many with good ideas. My wish is that now we can all sign our names to start uniting. Write civil servant if you have to, I understand. We have to unite and speak up and be counted. It’s called freedom of speach. As long as there are fears toexpress ourselves openly the less we will progress positively and be in a better position. We have good people running for our next elections and will have to be careful as to best select a canditate. All it takes is putting a good team that can work together. Kind of apuzzle witj this one man one vote.Mr. Premier no disrespect however a lot needs to be fixed.

  11. Anonymous says:

    My question is at what size is the population going to max out for this small country? Has anybody thought about a realistic figure?

    • Anonymous says:

      Think? What is that?
      As long as they can get fees and possible supporters this nonsense will continue forever; and do not even think about the overblown West Bay mob as neither party will do anything differently. They do not give a hoot about anyone or this country. It is all about me – me – me; vote me in so I can fix this. Give me a frickin break will you please!
      Elect the independents!

    • Anonymous says:

      check Bermuda and you will see.

      • Nonny Muss says:

        Thank you, People seem to be forgetting that Bermuda is in the situation that it is in now because everything that we are doing, They’ve already done.

  12. Anonymous says:

    The one who unites this deeply divided country and fixes the Dumps should be given a chance. By fixing the Dump I mean completely sealing the existing Dump and opening state of the art new landfill far away from residential areas.
    Everything else, but education can wait.

  13. Anonymous says:

    This guy will say anything to get back in power. Give me more time and we will fix it all. Give me a break! This bunch of blow bags wont do a damn thing any different than they have been, just take care of there buddies, Hew and McTaggart blow crap on how good it is, this guy does the personal attacks on Bryan but did not have the guts to face him in an election. The whole bunch of party needs to be run out on a rail. Why didn’t he fix immigration while he was in power for four years? He is so smart so he could do with one swipe of his hand/pen.
    Out with the party and out with Alden!

  14. Finger on da Pulse says:

    In other news, Beatles split-up, Titanic sinks. More at 11.

  15. Pass the jam says:

    Should have left rollover in place and never had key employee.
    People could leave for a year and then come back. That was the best system. If a management level employee left for a year then their position if warranted would have been taken up by a more junior employee. The big businesses with their models would have allowed for all this in terms of their staffing.

  16. A says:

    So the guy in charge for last four years wants to fix the immigration system. But has sat on his hands for the last four years regarding the immigration system. Mainly for political reasons. What makes anyone believe if reelected he will actually fix the immigration system?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Wow what is wrong with this guy. We do not need a new department or law. The laws are there…they need to be enforced and we need a premier that does not spout off that he supports the issuance of managerial level permits as it creates entry jobs for Caymanians. We are still waiting for the post election awarding of 900 PR’s from the last time the he meddled with immigration laws.

  18. Anonymous says:

    While you are attempting to sort out immigration laws, can you also sort out the mess regarding citizenship? What documentation is there in place for Caymanians born to a Caymanian parent to demonstrate/proof that they are Caymanian rather than bringing their parent/grand parents birth certificate along (something which will become increasingly more difficult and confusing for generations to come).

    Immigration is asking for a “Right to be Caymanian” letter, but it seems none of the other Government departments have ever heard about such a thing and most people are not aware that they can apply for such letter.

    Passport and birth certificates are not citizenship documents so what is? Why are Caymanian passports issued to permanent residents who have yet to receive Cayman status and be naturalized?

    Confusion is all the way around.

  19. Anonymous says:

    The issues in Cayman are only stemming 10% of the time because of bad/antiquated/confusing laws but 90% of the time issues are created due to non-enforcement………..and that’s all the way around. So I don’t care which department deals with what, what I want is that things get ENFORCED and people/companies (including civil servants!) who do not comply will be dealt with and Gov depts. will be held responsible for their actions/non-actions.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The problem with our Immigration Law currently is that there are too many alternatives engineered by the lobbying employers to give them greater room to manipulate the system to their advantage and to the disadvantage of Caymanians.
    There is a simple solution that can easily be defined in law Caymanian status only to spouses and descendants of Caymanians no room for maneuver or beat the system or to influence politician by campaign contributions. Work permits for five years non-renewable and not allowed to change jobs come as a gardener leave with no return five years later as a gardener.
    Simple practical and easy to administer.
    Human Resource Authority needed only to determine need for permit is genuine and no Caymanian is being denied work.

  21. frangipani says:

    immigration legislation will form a central part of his government’s agenda if he gets a second chance to lead PPM administration. Doesn’t sound like he is too positive that he will.

    • frangipani says:

      CNS I don’t know where you got this comment from but it was not from frangipani. I think yo have some crossed wires somewhere. Please check and amend, thanks

      CNS: The name used was “frangipani” and the email address was your usual one, which is probably remembered by your browser. So, if you are sure that you did not leave that comment, then I suspect that someone used your computer. There is absolutley no way that your handle could have been been the result of “crossed wires”. It simply could not happen this end.

  22. Anonymous says:

    How about we take our cues from mummy England and Uncle Sam – as has been the case for all my lifetime.

    Firstly we must come to the clear understanding that our expats are in reality “immigrants”.
    (Yes, think Muslims and (legal) Mexicans in the USA and Bulgarians and Nigerians in the UK – those are direct equivalents of expats in Cayman.)

    Now, consider the rhetoric, election results, referendum decisions, and executive orders that the two aforementioned countries have recently produced, then compare to the typical approach and policies traditionally implemented in Cayman.

    One will quickly realise we are lagging far behind and losing touch with modern trends in these regards.

    On this very forum Cayman is regularly slandered as being a backward and primitive place and culture – let us strive our endeavour best to right those wrongs.

    – Who
    (Child of an expat)

    • Anonymous says:

      Therein lies your issue Who…you don’t get the economics. Its Cayman’s choice to limit work permits if you so wish, I get it. However if you do, in any dramatic form, your CIG budget goes out the window. Your housing market collapses unless you can fill the gap with more tourists. To do that you need a longer runway, more hotels, more infrastructure, more people to work in that industry, plus finding jobs for the 2000+Caymanians working in financial services or retraining them. If you don’t have the finance for it, you cant fund it. I could go on…but no point.

      • Anonymous says:

        My friend, I am fully aware and “get” all the points you have outlined.

        However, there are countless and solid economic, security, and human rights arguments AGAINST all of the decisions and developments within the USA and UK listed in my original post.

        However, all were crumpled up and tossed away like garbage, and an odd belief / faith in some phantom new, better way forward has been substituted in place of traditional and “sensible” norms.

        Therefore, kindly refrain from your attempts to “keep us in line” with your enlightened remarks.
        Unless of course you believe the USA and UK are also now on a destined path to doomsday?

        – Whodatis

        *Rest assured, come what may, the Caymanian people will be just fine. We survived on our own before the “economic miracle” aka “the islands that time forgot” aka “outright neglect and abandonment by mother country of her non-White overseas territory” – which was by no means a one-off – and we will surely survive any threats or dangers that your little mind can conjure up.


        • Anonymous says:

          It’s not just the economics you don’t get, Who…you have lost touch with reality. None so blind as those who will not see. Good luck, you are going to need it.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well, maybe I’m simply an American or Brit at heart.
            Seems like we’re all going down in flames together, right?


            – Who

  23. Anonymous says:

    There are more jobs than the entire population of Caymanians including infants and elderly.
    Creating another beuricratic authority for the sole purpose of empoying the few unemployable is insane.
    Re educate and retrain them- end of the story.
    Education and the Dump must be a priority. Enforcement of the gazillion laws is another area of focus. Uniting the divided society must be the motto of each candidate.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Alden, it really is not that complicated. Just because those you employ to operate it do not know how to does not mean it is unworkable.

  25. Sharkey says:

    You mean you made it and you didn’t know you were making a problem.

  26. Anonymous says:

    You know what’s going to be a problem? The PR hiatus that his administration authored, the claims in the courts, the ones to come, and all of those settlements. What a bunch of morons.

  27. SSM345 says:

    So I other words, instead of releasing the Ritch Report, Alden and the PPM are going to champion its content as their own thinking and solutions to our immigration problems? What a f**king loser. Get him out.

  28. Anonymous says:

    Okay, some good ideas, some bad. But imo they have had four years to address this and are only doing so now because…get ready for it…it is election time.

  29. Anonymous says:

    He sure is a smart one

  30. Unison says:

    You are addressing our Immigration system now?!!! ://

  31. Anonymous says:

    Why wasn’t this resolved over the past 4 years? We are looking at granting over 1000 PRs (not including their dependents) who will most likely be very close to applying for status within the next 4 years. New voters for the PPM?

    • Anonymous says:

      At least they will have qualified under a rigoros selection system….unlike the Mac masses and their thousands of dependants.

      • Anonymous says:

        Giving everyone maximum points for occupation and 40 points for impregnating a status holder is rigorous?

        • Anonymous says:

          you need to check out how many from that mass were submitted by the PPM.

    • Anonymous says:

      After the pension changes reading this is frightening! I actually think it should stay with Immigration, just quit the biased boards.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh yeah, I’m sure those 1,000 people will vote for the government that broke the law, infringed their human rights and left their families and careers in limbo for years.

      • Anonymous says:

        They’ve already shown their appreciation by suing and threatening to sue the very people who gave them the opportunity for citizenship. Have some balls and show that you are in control of your immigration…deny the majority.

        • Anonymous says:

          it is truly concerning that persons who have lawfully sought to protect their legal rights in a country they love should be deemed in any way worthy of disdain. They should be treated as heroes by all, including Caymanians who want to be proud of their democracy, their systems and laws. The alternative is despotism.

          • Anonymous says:

            Your legal rights by the laws of your host country have not been broken. Get lost as we don’t need any litigious unthankful a..holes.

            • Anonymous says:

              The laws of the host country have been broken, as the government finances will likely start feeling very soon.

              • Anonymous says:

                Name the laws of the Cayman islands which have been broken…I’m sick of the complaints and threats….it took some time but you had nothing better to do or you would have done it. Leave!!

                • Anonymous says:

                  The Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Immigration Law, The Common Law, and the Laws of Human Decency.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    Nice try…a delay in process does not break any of those laws…really just LEAVE…we don’t need any more people blindly spouting rhetoric…we have politicians for that.