Immigration doubles arrests from last year

Stepped up enforcement over the past year has led to nearly double the number of arrests for immigration-related violations, according to statistics released by the Immigration Department on Monday.

Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Gary Wong said 198 arrests were made between July 2010 and June 2011 – up from 108 the previous year.

The arrests covered 14 types of offences, including overstaying (103 arrests) and illegal landing (7 arrests).

The increase in arrests does not include an immigration-related amnesty programme in July 2010 that saw 87 people voluntarily depart from Cayman. Most of them had been overstaying – one person had done so for 12 years.

Mr. Wong said employers were not exempt from enforcement measures. During the past year, 50 employers were charged for immigration offences while others were warned for various offences.

Also, 15 people were charged with employing foreign nationals without permits, while four others were arrested for causing an individual to overstay.

A breakdown of nationalities of those who were arrested shows that more than half of the offenders were Jamaican, while other top-offending nationalities were Honduras, Canada, the Cayman Islands, the Philippines, Cuba and the United States. The majority of those arrested chose to pay monetary penalties rather than go to court, immigration officials said. As a result, the immigration enforcement unit collected more than $175,000.

Offences such as illegal landing saw all those involved prosecuted in court. Boats and other items used for committing such immigration offences were ordered forfeited to the crown, immigration officers said.

The area of illegal migration also resulted in 40 Cuban migrants being intercepted between July 2010 and June 2011. That was the largest number since 2008, when 207 persons were found in Cayman Islands waters.

“We are continuously working with other agencies to control the criminal element by targeting and prosecuting those who land illegally, or attempt to do so”, said Linda Evans, Chief Immigration Officer.

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