Cayman Islands Cabinet members are considering lengthy exclusion periods for individuals who are deported from the country because of criminal convictions.
The minimum exclusion periods for deportees, or individuals who have already left the jurisdiction are subject to exclusion orders signed by the governor, are part of changes being made to better regulate the deportation process.
It may not be well-known, but deported individuals are not necessarily precluded from returning to the Cayman Islands for life.
However, the country’s current process for deciding the fate of deportees isn’t ideal, according to Chief Officer of the Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Franz Manderson.
“The proposed measures would create minimum exclusion periods that are based on the seriousness of the offences committed by the individuals,” according to a statement released by government last week. “Until this minimum period has expired, no applications for permission to enter the Islands will be considered.”
Previously, Mr. Manderson said Cabinet would get requests from individuals seeking to return “every six months or once a year”.
“If that request is refused, the person may reapply at any time and Cabinet is required to consider the new request,” Mr. Manderson said. “The [current] system is totally unregulated and open to abuse.”
The newly proposed exclusion period calls for a minimum 30 years for the most serious criminal offences; murder, rape, robbery, arson, assaults, and major drug offences. The 30-year exclusion period would be from the date of deportation.
For less serious offences, assault causing actual bodily harm, fraud, handling stolen goods, etc. the exclusion period would be 20 years. For consumption or possession of drugs, common assault and immigration offences, the exclusion period would be for 10 years.
People with Caymanian family connections are treated differently under the proposed regulations. In most cases, the exclusion period is cut by one-third compared to individuals that have no local family connections.
For example, if a person deported following a robbery conviction would normally have to stay out of the country at least 30 years. For someone with close family connections, that minimum exclusion time would be 20 years.
Caymanian family connections means the deportee has a mother, father, spouse or child who is Caymanian.
In all cases, the deportation order will last at least 10 years, which Mr. Manderson said would provide a “meaningful deterrent”.
A bill now before the Legislative Assembly would also make some other changes to the deportation process, once approved.
Applications for return to Cayman following deportation will no longer be heard by Cabinet, under the new legislation.
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, according to the bill.
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.
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.