Cayman will never – no matter what
it does, no matter what proposals it tries, no matter what stunts it pulls –
fix its labour difficulties through processes that are controlled by the
This was never more clearly shown
than at last week’s meeting between local business owners and immigration
Businesses were crying out for
relief from fees and bureaucracy, and for assistance from a labour department
that is apparently unable to deliver it.
They were responded to by
immigration officials who said those fees weren’t the department’s problem and
who added some vague assurance about “continuing to work with the Department of
This is akin to an American and a
Brazilian arguing over which game is better, baseball or football. They’re not
talking about the same sport; they’re not even speaking the same language.
It was evident last Wednesday that
immigration officials and local businesses aren’t speaking the same language.
In the end, the insurmountable
problem is obvious when one considers the purpose of Cayman’s Immigration
Department. It is – at the core of its being – a law enforcement agency. Its
first goal, and foremost, is to protect the country’s borders from outside
That is as it should be.
But to then assume that this same
agency should be where law-abiding business owners seeking employees to compete
in an increasingly more complex and faster-paced world need to go to get work
permits is just fundamentally wrong. Immigration’s job is to keep the bad
people out and to keep the country safe by doing so.
A business owner’s job is to make
money, and that person usually needs to quickly obtain the best workers
available to pursue their goals.
This is not to say Immigration
should have nothing to do with checking out the records of those who enter the
country; far from it. But there is something wrong when those same law
enforcement officers are making decisions which can lead directly to a business’s
success or failure.