Last week, when a defendant being escorted to court made a desperate attempt to flee, Mr. Principe was at the ready — and jumped in to foil the escape.
Hours later, Mr. Principe was lauded by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie as the “embodiment of service” and described by Court Administrator Kevin McCormac as “efficient, dedicated and considerate.”
The next day, Mr. Principe was gone … back to his native Philippines, and away from Cayman for at least a year. The reason: “fulfillment of an immigration requirement.”
It is a scenario such as this which crystallizes the absurdity of our country’s approach to work permits, residency and permanent status.
While this Editorial Board doesn’t know the particulars of Mr. Principe’s immigration file, from what we’ve heard about his on-the-job performance (which has been deemed admirable by the judiciary, court staff and the Cayman Compass’s own court reporter), it seems to us that Mr. Principe’s farewell ceremony last week should instead have been a celebration — of his being given permission to stay in our country as long as he likes.
In the words of Mr. McCormac, “Nothing was ever too much trouble for him, and he consistently performed his duties to a standard over and above that which could reasonably have been expected.”
Isn’t that the kind of professional Cayman should be welcoming, and embracing?
Consider the following: Mr. Principe, an employee of private contractor National Security Services Limited, had worked at the Law Courts Building for four years. For the last 18 months, he had also served as an acting court marshal when required. Despite his exemplary record of service, Mr. Principe had been instructed by authorities to leave Cayman.
His return flight was booked for Christmas Eve. On his final day at work, Dec. 23, he espied an offender attempting to break free from custody. Though he knew it was his last day on the job, that it was the eve of his departure, that he was risking his personal safety on behalf of a country that had officially spurned him — Mr. Principe also apparently knew he had a duty to perform, and he threw himself into the fray.
Why, again, was he ordered to leave?
The truth is, much of the extraordinariness of Mr. Principe’s example is that he was recognized publicly for being extraordinary. You don’t have to live and work in Cayman for very long before you witness the seemingly arbitrary eviction of a remarkable person, who just didn’t have the right connections or job title or bank account balance, yet who made Cayman a better place while they were here, and worse off after they left.
Perhaps, in the case of Mr. Principe (and by extension all the overperforming, underappreciated expatriates in “humble” occupations such as security guard, housekeeper, nanny, store clerk and landscaper), the appropriate question to ask is this: Why — if it were never a possibility that they could join Cayman’s community, and that their treatment by authorities would be as expendable, interchangeable and non-specialized vessels for labor — did we ever invite them into our country in the first instance?
And why on earth would they accept?