Eight chief immigration officers from across the Caribbean met in Cayman in order to establish a regional association and discuss immigration concerns.
The three-day conference was the first of its kind and opened at the Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort.
Visiting officers represented: Anguilla, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Jamaica, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Chief Immigration Officer for the Cayman Islands Franz Manderson emphasised the importance of collaboration among heads of immigration around the region.
‘We are operating in a dynamic environment, and we must be prepared to adapt to the changing needs of our societies. It is therefore important that we come together in forums such as this to exchange ideas, share experiences and open lines of communication,’ he said.
Leader of Government Business Kurt Tibbetts described the meeting as timely in regard to the global financial crisis, which could bring border control, national security, and labour market management issues to the fore.
‘The pain and loss of jobs and income that many experience as a result of these difficult times may give rise to an increase in crime, and may also pose risk to border security, as workers seek to provide for themselves and their families by looking for work on other islands,’ he said.
Mr. Tibbetts also pointed to the need for immigration officials to play a role in regulating the labour force, in order to ensure that indigenous workers are protected while ensuring that an adequate numbers of foreign workers are available to support the economy.
The conference agenda covered issues such as the latest developments in border protection, asylum and refugee protection, enforcement of immigration laws, the accreditation system for employers, and the creation of the regional association.
It is hoped that the immigration conference will become an annual event.