It may not be a well-known fact, but foreign nationals who are deported from the Cayman Islands aren’t necessarily excluded from returning here for life.
They can apply for re-entry and can return if Cabinet approves, even though deportation and exclusion orders signed by the governor are typically indefinite.
The process by which those deportees can apply to return has been less than ideal, according to Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Chief Officer Franz Manderson.
“We’re getting a lot of requests that are taking up Cabinet’s time, sometimes the same people will apply every six months, or once a year,” Mr. Manderson said.
The country’s Immigration Law doesn’t necessarily state when or how often applications to be let back into the Cayman Islands can be considered. It does allow Cabinet to make exceptions in certain cases.
“Is it reasonable to have a lifetime ban for something that happened when you were 20 years old?” Mr. Manderson said. “There are human rights issues to be considered here as well.”
A proposed amendment to the Immigration Law made public this week seeks to create a minimum timeline for deportation orders or exclusion orders (where a person already living outside Cayman has been ordered not to return). Those minimum timelines have not yet been established.
“For example, the regulations of the law could state, ‘if you committed these offences, the timeline before you can apply for re-entry is 20 years’,” Mr. Manderson said. “It puts the [deported] person in the know right away.”
Under that circumstance, the individual would have to wait 20 years before applying for re-entry into Cayman. Those applications would also no longer be heard by Cabinet, if amendments to the Immigration Law are approved by the legislature.
Rather, an advisory committee would be established – called the Cabinet Advisory Committee on Prohibited Immigrants – that would make recommendations to Cabinet on whether a deported person is allowed to return.
The committee is chaired by the deputy governor (or a designee), the chief immigration officer (or designee), the commissioner of police (or designee), a mental health professional licensed to practice in Cayman, and a committee secretary.
When considering an application for re-entry, the committee should consider the person’s criminal history, their health, where they have lived since being deported and their reasons for wanting to return.
The committee is also allowed to consider any statements from victims of the crime that led to the individual being deported or excluded from Cayman.
Typically, people are deported from Cayman following convictions for criminal offences or offences under the Immigration Law.
If the application is successful and the deported person is allowed to return, they would be given a 12-month period to return.
After the year has passed, they are allowed to apply for permanent revocation of the deportation or exclusion order, according to the bill.
The Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly is expected to take up the matter later this year.