Man deported after 17 years

An American working in Cayman 17 years was recommended for deportation after pleading guilty to immigration offences.

Hector Robles Garcia, 52, was charged with overstaying since November 2001 and working without a permit between April and June 2004.

He told Magistrate Margaret Ramsay-Hale he owned 20 per cent of a company here and the company had been holding his work permit.

Garcia said his Caymanian partner decided to sell the company, which had been doing decorative concrete, but then the sale didn’t go through. There was then talk of someone else buying it.

The magistrate told Garcia, ‘In 2001, when your partner talked about selling, you should have kept your house in order. When the next annual renewal of your work permit came up, did you renew?’ The defendant said no.

The magistrate wondered why it had taken so long for authorities to find Garcia.

Crown Counsel Marlene Smith spoke with an Immigration officer present. She then explained that officers received a complaint about Garcia and went to his home. When they checked his passport they found that his work permit had expired. The officer also advised that Garcia did not hold any legal title to the company; he had invested money.

‘You cannot stay here unless you have a legal right to do so,’ the magistrate told Garcia. ‘Have work permit. Be a resident.’

She expressed doubt that Garcia had worked without a permit only once in four years. ‘All of us who work here know it is one of the most expensive places to live,’ she pointed out.

He had been operating without paying fees for the business licence and his work permit, so he had already made the state ‘out of pocket’. The magistrate said she would not put the state to more expense by having Garcia in prison, so she would fine him.

The January 2004 Immigration Law sets a penalty of up to $15,000 for a first offence of working without a permit, she noted. The fine for a first offence of overstaying may be up to $20,000.

For working without a permit she fined Garcia $1,000 or 30 days in lieu of payment. For overstaying, the fine was $2,000 or six months in lieu. The defendant was also recommended for deportation and advised of his right to appeal the sentence imposed.

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