The Cayman Contractors Association wishes to express its praise and gratitude to Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson for the essential part that he has played in assisting in the recovery process since Hurricane Ivan.
Shortly following the storm, Mr. Manderson introduced the Emergency Temporary Work Permit, which allowed employers to obtain fast-turnaround permits for any expatriate to work for any firm, provided it would help in the reconstruction.
This measure not only provided much needed immediate help for reconstruction, it also wisely provided jobs for a large number of residents whose jobs were at least temporarily lost following the storm.
This played no small part in the limitation of crime due to desperation, as so many people who would otherwise have had no income were able to get by for several months while Cayman returned to a fairly normal state.
Most of these workers have now returned to their original professions.
Recently, Mr. Manderson responded again to Cayman’s Immigration renewed crisis.
Thousands of permits were issued for short and long-term construction staff in the wake of Ivan, most of them temporary permits.
Those permits have now run out, yet the Work Permit Board does not have the time to deal with the large numbers of annual permits that have followed.
Under the present Immigration Law, a temporary permit holder must leave Cayman if his temporary permit has expired, but his annual permit application has not yet been processed.
This part of the Law has long served Cayman well, but now is a threat to the reconstruction process, in that those current workers that arrived after the storm on Emergency Temporary Work Permits would now be required to leave in the thousands – a major upset in the ongoing reconstruction process.
With the hurricane season upon us already, Cayman can ill afford to risk any interruptions in this process.
Mr. Manderson has announced that, henceforth, Immigration will issue temporary permits to bona fide employers in order to keep these employees here.
The key word in this announcement is the term bona fide.
While we are all aware that great strides are being made by responsible contractors, Cayman must be ever-mindful of the danger in the many companies who hold contractors’ licenses, yet do not and, in many cases, cannot actually run construction projects.
These companies hire foreign workers who are then let loose to find their own work and return with money for their employers, a practice that unleashes a large number of often unskilled and unscrupulous workers on Cayman’s public.
Mr. Manderson and his staff have the unenviable task of attempting to determine which applications are from bona fide contractors and which are not.
Mr. Manderson’s clear insight into this Immigration problem and his bold efforts to address it are all the more praiseworthy, as it is understandable for senior civil servants to stick to the status quo, rather than to risk public criticism by taking dramatic action.
As such, Mr. Manderson shows great courage in the service of his country.
The CCA would also like to take this opportunity to praise the new Government for reacting so swiftly to Mr. Manderson’s lead by declaring that the Immigration Law will be dealt with in the first sitting of the new House.
We would offer our support to Government for their actions and pledge our assistance wherever needed in the post-Ivan Immigration saga, as it will inevitably continue to evolve.
Cayman Contractors Association