Immigration criticized for record-keeping

The Cayman Islands government watchdog said the Department of Immigration and Customer Service has not fixed a problem, which led to the alleged harassment of a Caymanian man at the airport.

The Office of the Complaints Commissioner’s report said Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson was given a set of recommendations in September. Since then, OCC said there’s no evidence those have been complied with.

The complaint stems from a 29 August, 2004, in which a Caymanian man, identified in the report as Mr. SB, was travelling to Toronto. An alert had been placed on the man’s immigration file because department officials said he had been avoiding service of a court order.

Mr. SB said he was harassed in the departure lounge of the airport and served with the court order, but was not prevented from leaving the islands.

Complaints Commissioner John Epp said the problem occurred after the man received the order, and the immigration alert was not removed from his file.

‘If the alert is valid, everything’s cool,’ said Mr. Epp. ‘But once the justification for the alert has expired then the alert should be off the file. People shouldn’t be stopped and questioned about things which were all along taken care of.’

Mr. Manderson acknowledged the alert was left on the Caymanian man’s file after it had become stale, however he said he was not aware of any incident following the one in 2004 where Mr. SB had been accosted because of it.

‘Had it come up again, at that time then he would, in my opinion, have a legitimate complaint,’ said Mr. Manderson. ‘In my opinion the immigration system worked well.’

Mr. Epp said he does not share that view. The complaints commissioner said the Immigration Department should ensure new procedures would be drafted in relation to alerts placed on someone’s immigration file.

‘Don’t phone (Immigration) and say you’ve got a court order. Give (them) the court order and then (they’ll) put the alert in,’ said Mr. Epp. ‘Also, the alerts should be reviewed for validity on a regular basis.’

A target date of 21 September was set for the new procedures, but the OCC report said it was not met.

‘I thought I had done what I was supposed to do, but (Mr. Epp) obviously thinks that I didn’t,’ Mr. Manderson said. He said Immigration was reviewing its entire warning list, which contains thousands of names, to make sure it’s up to date.

The OCC report did note the Immigration Department’s workload had been heavy in the past year, and that many improvements were made including, customer service enhancements; reducing work permit backlogs; and revising the English skills test now given to immigrant workers from non-English speaking countries.

Mr. Manderson