Today’s Editorial October 03: More work for Immigration?

If there’s someone on this island that has a tougher job than Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, we’re not aware of it.

During what must be a routine 12-15 hour work day, the CIO has to run a department that processes all the entries into the Cayman Islands, as well as playing a huge role in securing our borders and dealing with illegal immigrants efficiently and humanely.

A proposal which government is expected to consider in the current Legislative Assembly meeting would also give Mr. Manderson’s department the ability to approve or deny many routine applications for work permits.

Clearly, the Immigration Department is going above and beyond the call of duty.

And the Caymanian Compass is starting to wonder just how far above and beyond those duties should go.

A couple of recent events have caused us to question whether turning over the review of work permit applications to Immigration Department employees in ‘non-controversial’ cases is really the right thing to do.

We understand the department’s and employers’ desires to have these work permit grant and renewal applications processed quickly.

However, there’s also the question of whether the Immigration staff can continue to take on seemingly ever-increasing work.

A recent press release from Government Information Services stated the following said the Immigration Department was looking to develop a reward system for companies committed to training and hiring Caymanians. He stated that the Immigration Department helps the immigration boards investigate whether there are Caymanians qualified to fill job vacancies.

Assuming the Mr. Manderson was quoted correctly, what is the point of having appointed boards and the Department of Employment Relations if the Immigration Department is reviewing job vacancies?

This newspaper is actually becoming a bit concerned that the Immigration Department is making an unprecedented foray into the world of labour, employment and workers’ rights.

We don’t believe that with a steady hand like Mr. Manderson’s at the helm that there’s any great reason to fear. But surely he won’t be in that position forever. Should we dare to take for granted his replacement – when and whoever that may be – will be as capable and hardworking as Mr. Manderson?

A good man doesn’t necessarily equal a good system. What happens if all this power over employment falls into the hands of someone who is not as committed to duty and fairness as Mr. Manderson.

Legislators need to consider very carefully a system which, in the hands of the wrong person, may be as open to abuse as is the current method of politically appointed boards; perhaps even more so.