Following a month of discussions with Grand Cayman residents, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said his department will re-double efforts to implement policies that balance the rights of all key players in Cayman’s labour market.
‘Both Caymanians and non-Caymanians had major concerns which they shared with us as we went around the island,’ he said.
The Immigration Department wrapped up its District Evening Series with the final meeting taking place in George Town on Tuesday, 30 September. The gatherings provided opportunities to share new developments in immigration policy with residents, as well as plans to improve operational efficiency. Mr Manderson and members of his senior team also listened to residents’ issues.
According to Mr Manderson, the most common matter raised by Caymanians refers to their desire to have the department help level the playing field and ensure that more locals benefit from job opportunities.
‘Many locals told us that they felt marginalized in the workforce and want to see more job prospects open up for young qualified Caymanians,’ he explained.
Repeating an earlier media statement, Mr Manderson said that the Immigration Department is committed to ensuring that more qualified Caymanians benefit from the country’s prosperity and advance as key players in the job market.
However, he also noted that non-Caymanian workers have advised his team of some negative experiences, particularly involving their rights being violated by employers.
‘Some people said they have not been receiving promised benefits; others complained that-against immigration rules-they have had to pay for their own work permits, and still more spoke out about having to work in less than ideal physical and emotional conditions,’ Mr Manderson disclosed.
He added that his department will step up efforts to protect the rights of those who come to work in the Islands, to ensure that they are able to function with dignity.
Making the point that everyone had their problems, he further noted that employers had also spoken of cases where workers had created hardship by failing to live up to their end of the bargain.
‘A number of employers said that after paying requisite work permit and other fees on their behalf, some workers left after a short period, causing the employer to be out of pocket,’ Mr Manderson said.
‘So you see it is a balancing act,’ he added, ‘but we need to protect the rights of all who contribute to the economic success that we continue to enjoy.’
Mr Manderson said that attempts to educate all players in the workforce will be on-going: ‘We want everyone to be informed and we also want to work with our business community to ensure that they stay on the right side of the law.’
Commenting on the impact of the district evenings, he said, ‘These meetings have given my team and me a better sense of the immigration issues on the minds of Caymanians, and have allowed staff to share information regarding our achievements and plans relative to departmental functions, border security and managing the Islands’ labour market.’
Another district evening feature saw information desks erected with a wide array of brochures on work permits, permanent residence, business staffing plans and more. They also highlighted services offered by the department.
Staffers from both the Immigration Department and Board were also on hand to answer queries.
This final latest round of Immigration District Evenings began on Wednesday, 3 September and earlier in the year, meetings were also held in Cayman Brac and West Bay.