Today’s Editorial for June 17: Take a bow, Mr. Manderson

We find ourselves again congratulating an outstanding Cayman Islands public servant.

The Caymanian Compass recently wrote about departing Complaints Commissioner John Epp, basically stating that newly-appointed Commissioner Nicola Williams has some big shoes to fill.

In the case of departing Cayman Islands Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson, we would like to say that whoever is chosen to replace him has some really, really, really big shoes to fill; think Shaquille O’Neal size.

Mr. Manderson has served tirelessly for the last five years at the helm of what is arguably the most challenging and important job in the Cayman Islands Government. He will be taking a promotion to the post of deputy chief secretary on 1 July.

If you think about it one way, the chief immigration officer is essentially responsible for about half of the individuals on this island; those who are here on work permits, student visas, or those seeking the right to become permanent residents of these Islands.

In recent years, that number has fluctuated somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 people.

The management of expatriate workers isn’t the responsibility of the chief immigration officer alone, or even that of his dedicated staff. But whenever problems arise, it’s the Immigration Department and its leader that take the brunt of the storm.

And the torrential rains and gusting winds come from all directions in the Cayman Islands: from businesses who want work permits approved yesterday, to the workers who are anxious to start new jobs and lives, to the political problems that necessarily arise from employing a large number of foreign workers in a small jurisdiction.

Then there’s just the small matter of protecting country’s borders.

As many, including Mr. Epp, will remember, there were major problems within the Immigration Department when Mr. Manderson took over. The changes and improvements in the last five years have been nothing short of monumental and have been managed during difficult political times.

Mr. Manderson was always there to field the questions from the press and the public. He always conducted the business of his office with dignity and respect for everyone.

We are comforted by the fact that Mr. Manderson will still have an eye on the Immigration Department as he takes up his new post within the civil service; among the duties of the deputy chief secretary is the oversight of immigration, police and customs.

It can only be hoped that the new chief immigration officer will follow Mr. Manderson’s example.