Responses to this week’s poll indicate people are confused and weary, with some suggesting Cayman is on a fast highway to doom.
The poll asked whether new immigration and employment regulations, aimed at expatriates, were for the best. Of 358 votes, or 37.4 percent, couldn’t say because “no one understands the new rules.”
“It [the new regime] is an improvement, but far too complicated for effective implementation,” one voter remarked, pointing out the obvious: “Immigration is a mess at present.”
The new immigration law links the import of overseas labor with local employers. Anyone contemplating hiring a foreigner must document the process, demonstrating training programs to replace immigrants with Caymanians, even levying a $20,000 fine on employers who fail to notify government they have Caymanian applicants.
“The damage has already been done. Cayman will never be Cayman again. We will end up being a little Jamaica, and good people will leave here to seek safety and peace somewhere else if our demographics continue this rapid change,” opined another.
Second among the responses was “no,” the new rules were not for the best. The category drew 94 votes, or 26.2 percent of the total.
“To enhance the business climate that creates jobs, we need to expand immigration, not curtail it. Going in the opposite direction alienates businesses which can, have and will continue to relocate to other jurisdictions – eliminating opportunities for Caymanians,” one respondent wrote.
The contrary view was also reflected: “The Cayman Islands has become overpopulated. This is dangerous for the economy. Stop importing foreigners. Keep the population below 50,000 people. Foreigners will destroy the Cayman Islands. Preserve the Cayman Islands.”
Making the point often advanced by policymakers in support of the changes, another voter said: “I am still seeing educated, willing and able Caymanians out of work. In addition, I also see that companies are not taking the initiative to train Caymanians to fulfill expatriate jobs seriously. There needs to be stricter rules for work permits.”
“[It’s] getting so complicated. Immigration [officers] themselves have trouble understanding it and keeping up. We want good skilled foreigners to come and stay in Cayman. I don’t think the new rules foster that,” commented another.
In third place, with 71 votes, or 9.8 percent of the total, was “the changes are window dressing. They mean little.”
One person feared for the business climate: “We are keeping [away] prospective investors and future employees who do not want to live on a seven-year string. They should be able to come and go and it is up to the Immigration board to make sure that Caymanian employees get positions if they are qualified.”
A second pointed to the hypocrisy of the new rules, asking an oft-repeated question: “If it’s a human-rights issue, why doesn’t it apply to civil servants? Rollover is bad for the country.”
Finishing fourth was “yes,” the new rules are for the best, drawing 52 votes, 14.5 percent of the total: “They will boost the struggling economy,” said one voter; another said, “If the [regulations] don’t change every two years. At least at the moment employers know how to plan their business staffing, but who knows – they will probably change again.”
Finally, the “other” category finished with seven votes, or 1.96 percent of the total.
“The majority of the jobs that are being done by expatriates are ones that Caymanians don’t want to do,” said one. “If all of the expats that are doing those jobs are kicked off the island, then there aren’t going to be more jobs for Caymanians; there are only going to be businesses that have to scramble to bring in new expatriates.
“If expats are told from the day they arrive that they aren’t wanted, and that in “X” years they’re going to have to leave, why should they care about Cayman? Why should they try to integrate into society (after all, they’re not wanted)? Why should they invest (and never be able to get their money back)? If Caymanians don’t want expats here, then do all of those jobs yourself. If you don’t want to do those jobs, then let the people that are willing to do them come and stay as long as they want – as long as they are law-abiding.”
Next week’s poll question:
Should Cayman agree to the U.S. tax-collection “FATCA” program?
Maybe, but compliance costs will be paid by consumers
Don’t know, but if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear