Today’s Editorial November 07: A call for amnesty

Pastor Steve Herro Blair has an idea worthy of heavy consideration.

He wants Government and Immigration to set aside a certain amount of time to give amnesty to all overstayers so they can leave the Cayman Islands without fear of persecution.

Overstaying in the Cayman Islands is illegal, and we think it would be a safe bet that most overstayers are aware of this fact.

We think it would also be a safe bet to assume that many overstayers don’t admit to their indiscretion because of fear of being locked up.

They just continue to linger here, many employed, making a living and sending the money back home to help support their families.

In fact many overstayers were admitted to this country on legal permits, which eventually ran out.

But they are still breaking the law.

A period of amnesty would ease fears of lockup and give offenders the opportunity to leave this country and return to their native countries, wherever they are.

It’s a measure that has proven to work.

It was used following Hurricane Ivan to help overstayers get out of the Cayman Islands following Hurricane Ivan.

It was a great opportunity then for overstayers who had lived through Hurricane Ivan but who found themselves with no place to live or work.

Overstayers were warned then that if they didn’t take advantage of the amnesty offer, Immigration would actively seek them out. They were further warned that those found here illegally face a penalty of a $20,000 fine and imprisonment of up to five years.

In addition to fines and prison for overstayers, anyone, including employers, who knowingly assist people in remaining illegally in the Cayman Islands faced a fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for seven years.

Many people took advantage of the amnesty offer last year and we’re pretty sure many more will take advantage of such an offer this year.

The bottom line is that everyone in the Cayman Islands should be obeying all laws.

Overstaying is illegal.

But we can and should implement a way to let the overstayers leave without fear and with grace.