The Immigration Department is waiting for the immigration law to be amended before it begins a new policy of fingerprinting work permit holders.
Deputy Governor Franz Manderson told members of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee last week that fingerprinting equipment was already in place and “ready to go” but could not be put into use until additional changes to the law were made.
Mr. Manderson said the equipment had been procured, but was not yet in use because “once we had a detailed examination of the equipment, it was found that we required some slight change in the legislation”.
The necessary amendments to the legislation has gone before Cabinet, the deputy governor said, and would be ready to go before the Legislative Assembly for final approval “within another week or two”.
“At that time, once the legislation is passed, we will be in a situation to start fingerprinting work permit holders,” Mr. Manderson said.
The policy only applies to work permit holders, but not to tourists or Caymanians, status holders or permanent residents.
Fingerprinting equipment will be in place at the Immigration Department office for foreign staff renewing their work permits, as well as at the airport for new arrivals.
The implementation of fingerprinting for work permit holders has been delayed a number of times. In 2010, the Immigration Department said the policy would begin in the fourth quarter of the year and then that was pushed back to the beginning of 2011.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller said he had been under the impression that the legislation meant everyone who comes into Cayman would be fingerprinted, a suggestion that Premier McKeeva Bush insisted he would never support because it would be detrimental to the tourism industry.
“I’m not too worried about the work permit holders in that most of them would have to have a clean police record in order to get a work permit so we already know that they are of a certain calibre … I have greater concern about the people who just coming here through our immigration for a short period of time. It was my understanding all along that the biometric identification that was going to be provided by immigration was going to be all inclusive, including Caymanians,” Mr. Miller said.
“I don’t think it’s that disruptive to tourists to say they’ve got to put two little fingers on a glass box,” he added.
Mr. Miller said he was concerned that people who had been deported from Cayman may return under a different passport. “How do you know it’s the same person if you did not take his fingerprints?” he asked.
Amendments to the Immigration Law, debated and passed in 2008, refers only to the fingerprinting of work permit holders as a condition of their employment.