Man worked illegally for five years

No money for fine, he is brought to court

Michael Augustus Lewis, 40, pleaded guilty in Summary Court to overstaying and working without a permit since 14 March, 2006. He was arrested on 22 October and appeared before Magistrate Nova Hall three days later.

Crown Counsel Jenesha Simpson said Immigration officers went to a George Town address after receiving information. They knocked on the door of an apartment, but did not get any answer. They then contacted the landlord, who gave them access. Lewis was inside and said he did not answer the knocking because he didn’t know who was at the door.

Ms Simpson said the matter would have been dealt with by an administrative fine, but Lewis said he couldn’t pay. He was subsequently charged and brought to court.

The magistrate asked why Lewis had never regularised his immigration status.

He said he had told his boss he would like to stay working and the boss said he would put a permit in. Later, the boss said he didn’t bother about it. “I didn’t know who to confide in. Time went on …”

The magistrate commented that it had been quite a bit of time. She asked if he had any ties to the Island – brother, sister, parent – she could consider in mitigation. Lewis said he previously had a girlfriend, but they broke up.

Ms Simpson consulted with an Immigration officer present and advised there had been an amnesty for over-stayers in July 2010.

The magistrate asked Lewis why he didn’t take advantage of it.

“I never really understand it,” he said.

He also told the court he contributed to the support of a daughter and parents in his home country.

The magistrate said she could not ignore the length of time Lewis had overstayed or the fact there had been an amnesty that would have allowed him to surrender and go home without charges. She could not simply impose a fine and get rid of the matter.

That said, he had pleaded guilty and she did not see there was anything to be gained by Cayman having to house him and feed him for a long period of time. She therefore imposed concurrent terms of two months and advised Lewis of his right to appeal.

Details of the charge for working without a permit were Lewis “engaged in employment with a number of unidentified persons” without authorisation.


  1. WIth all respect to the magistrate for consideration of the plight of this illegal worker, as a Caymanian I would prefer if persons enforcing our laws and passing sentences do not withhold harsher sentences because there was nothing to be gained by Cayman having to house him and feed him….

    This person may have prevented other legal residents and Caymanians, who also have families, from obtaining work. Our laws must be enforced and in my opinion if foreign workers continue to be given lenient sentences, the deterrent factor is undermined and foreign workers should be even more accountable for breaking our laws even if it means they have to be deported.
    I wonder if this ‘lighter’ sentence will now allow this person who choose to ignore opportunities to do the right thing over 5 years to not be deported now? If our judges/magistrates can’t sentence foreign nationals we need judges/magistrates who can because increasing criminal activity is not only applicable to ‘crime’ committed by gangs and locals……….crime is crime and if encouraged in one area (work permits) what will stop escalation in breaking other laws?

    When a foreign worker is under the perception that the laws will be applied to them less harsh, many may be tempted to continue all forms of criminal activity.

    Also, it seems the person in question did not or wasn’t made to disclose the names/identity of employers. This non-disclosure and failure to assist with an investigation could have also led to greater sentencing because all parties in fraudulent employment practices should be held accountable.

    We need greater accountability of enforcement and sentencing as well because the making, implementation and enforcement of laws must work together to create the most peaceful and safest society possible.

  2. I agree with Boldmoves in Full!!
    I am sure there is more of this thing going on it needs to stop
    Law enforcement must step up and hold all parties acting against the law accountable with more stricter punisment shame to all employers willingly breaking the law

  3. He said he had told his boss he would like to stay working and the boss said he would put a permit in. Later, the boss said he didn’t bother about it. I didn’t know who to confide in. Time went on …

    And no charges against the ‘boss’?

    No immigration investigation of who this boss is and the immigration laws that have been violated by the boss…or is it that because the boss might be Caymanian, a legal resident or someone with means ans connections.

    The immigration/work-permit system in Cayman is so profoundly corrupt, you wonder why there are even laws.

    Seems like the only offense here is that the govt. didn’t collect its work permit fee !

  4. The employer is as or even more culpable than the over staying employee in this case and should be brought to justice. The employer had hired the individual initially under a work permit and therefor knew of, even encouraged, the worker overstaying. Who is this employer and why are they not part of this case?

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