If you’re an expatriate resident of
the Cayman Islands and you have a Jamaican nanny or domestic helper, you are
breaking the rules.
The rule is dictated by policy set
down by Cayman’s immigration boards.
The largely unknown measure, which
is not a part of the country’s Immigration Law, was revealed during a Tuesday
meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee. Opposition MLA Arden
McLean questioned whether this is the boards’ policy.
“As far back as 10 years ago there
is a policy that restricts the employment of nannies and helpers from Jamaica
to Caymanians,” said Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Chief Officer
Franz Manderson, clarifying later that only Caymanians may employ helpers of
Permanent residents – foreigners
who have been given the right to live in Cayman for the rest of their lives –
can become naturalised Caymanians after a process that typically takes 15 years
Mr. McLean questioned why such a
policy existed, since most permanent residents will have the chance to
eventually become Caymanian nationals if they remain in the Islands long
“In effect, we have integrated a
permanent resident into society as by all accounts…that person is going to be
Caymanian,” Mr. McLean said. “That person is part of us now. Why does that
policy have to remain?”
Also, Mr. McLean said he was
concerned that an immigration board policy was apparently taking governance
issues away from elected lawmakers.
“It should be their policy how they
operate the board, but not how we operate the country,” he said.
Back bench MLA Cline Glidden Jr.
said this policy could mean trouble for Cayman when the country’s first Bill of
Rights comes into effect in 2012.
“From a human rights standpoint, we
would have to be getting into borderline discrimination,” Mr. Glidden said.
“That’s pretty blatant discrimination.”
Mr. Manderson, the former
immigration chief officer, said the policy was created at a time when there
were not many permanent residents in the Cayman Islands. Now, there are
believed to be more than 2,000. Mr. McLean said it was likely that
administrators of the day were trying to balance various foreign nationalities
Jamaicans make up the largest
single group of foreign workers here. According to immigration statistics,
nearly 10,000 Jamaicans hold work permits in Cayman.
“I will certainly ask the boards to
look at that policy,” Mr. Manderson said.
Premier McKeeva Bush said he
believes the policy on Jamaican nannies is a clear indication of how Jamaican
nationals have been treated here over the years.
“For far too long we’ve had
discrimination against that nation and against those people here,” he said.
There are three main immigration
boards that deal with various issues including the granting of work permits,
permanent residence and Caymanian status. All members of those boards are
appointed by the ruling government. They set a number of policies, some of
which remain largely unknown even today.
Mr. Manderson said he expected all
board policies and procedures would soon be posted on the government’s web page
“in keeping with the spirit of FOI” (Cayman’s Freedom of Information Law).