Premier: Government taking permanent resident ruling ‘seriously’

The Cayman Islands government will provide a full response, making changes if and where necessary to its immigration regime in the wake of a recently released court ruling that was critical of several aspects of the permanent residence system, the premier said. 

Premier Alden McLaughlin said Monday that government leaders were taking legal advice on what has become a complex issue, and he expects to make announcements in response to the ruling in the next few weeks. 

“We are taking this issue very seriously,” Mr. McLaughlin said, declining to discuss specifics. 

The issues identified in an Aug. 28 court judgment dealt with two major areas: First, the actions of the Immigration Appeals Tribunal in judging two cases where non-Caymanians had applied for permanent residence – the right to remain in the territory for the rest of their lives – in which the tribunal’s actions were determined to be a “miscarriage of justice.” Those applications were made under a former version of the Immigration Law. 

The Immigration Appeals Tribunal was ordered to rehear the applications of the two workers, one of whom had applied for residency status in 2006. 

The second matter involved the current permanent residence system and how points toward status are awarded to applicants. 

Cayman Islands Chief Justice Anthony Smellie concluded in the judgment that there were “immediate and obvious concerns” about the current two-tiered system for awarding permanent residence applicants a total of 15 points for their occupation and another 15 points if their job is considered a “priority occupation” according to regulations attached to the Immigration Law. 

“It is difficult to imagine a policy that could be more opaque, uncertain and prone to arbitrariness than one by which points are to be allocated to occupations based upon merely subjective assessments of their importance in the context of the local economy,” the chief justice wrote in his 40-page judgment. 

If the government decides that changes are warranted to the current permanent residence points system, there could be further delays for the more than 350 residency applications now in the pipeline, some of which have been pending since late 2013. 

The difficulty with the current evaluation of points is partly due to the fact that the system requires periodic re-evaluation of demand for workers in a particular occupation, according to the chief justice’s ruling. 

“[There is no] explanation as to who would be responsible for those exercises and what measures would be put in place to ensure that they are reasonably and objectively carried out. It is to be expected therefore, that the periodical review and adjustments [to the point value of a particular occupation] will be carried out in a manner capable of withstanding the kind of heightened scrutiny now required of the court,” Justice Smellie’s ruling stated. 

That “heightened scrutiny” referred to by the chief justice is partly owing to requirements under the Cayman Islands Constitution Order (2009) Bill of Rights. Section 19 of the governing document requires all decisions of the government to be legal, rational, proportionate and procedurally fair. 

Essentially, the court judgment involving the two non-Caymanian workers stated that the decision by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal to deny their permanent residence applications was “irrational” because the tribunal could not properly explain or identify the criteria it used to rule on the applications. 

Justice Smellie ruled that in both cases the Immigration Appeals Tribunal “impeded the course of justice” by using materials to judge the permanent residence applications without allowing either applicant to speak to that material. 

The tribunal also failed to show the applicants, or even the court, how it had used those materials in judging the applications, so the court could not determine the legal “reasonableness” of the appointed body’s decision-making. 

Premier McLaughlin

Premier McLaughlin

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  1. If the government would take the discrimination against Caymanians as seriously then we would be making some real progress.

    If you want to get a little glimpse into what I am saying you will only have to look at the number of thumbs-down and/or the negative feedback that this comment gets to understand the extent of the problem.

    You would never think that this was the Cayman Islands.

  2. Was the Immigration status law just changed a year or two ago ? Why is the Immigration appeals tribunal not using current laws in making their decision ? Why the premier would say, those applications were made under a former version of the Immigration law ? This sounds like kids making the law , and kids enforcing the law is the most polite way I can say it.

  3. This is why i can relate to the Jewish people in this world. I know the mentality that they face each day where people look down on you and think they are right about everything and we don’t deserve our home sweet home Cayman and someone else can run it better than us. So sad that people behave this way. But we must never give up the hope that love will change the world not force.

  4. I love my people, but oh what a tangled web we weave, when we ourselves we do deceive. I have to think seriously about what Mack is saying. I don’t know if I would say discriminate; but there is this hypocritical can’t look you in the eye passion shared between most Caymanians; not with foreigners. Where does this come from I wish I knew, but it is there. I think it is a good thing that the premier is taking a serious look at permanent resident rulings and in future make sure that persons who are appointed to all boards have a good knowledge of what they would be representing. Regarding thumbs up and thumbs down; very few of them are from Caymanians because not that many use the internet and read editorial online. They spend seventy-five cents and buy the newspaper. Then again most people thumbs up and down to gratify their own desires in the comments, not considering the truth of the matter. It is useless trying to get across, that Caymanians resent being dictated to by people who come here on a work permit. So if a softer approach could be applied to these problems, I believe everyone would get along better.

  5. @Twyla
    With all due respect it is appears to me that you might have victim mentality and assume, expect the worst from expats.
    Just ask yourself for example who is the main force behind local charities? Who cares about your environment? Who cleans your beaches? Who brings you knowledge from their respective countries that enhance your life?
    Thumbs down mean a difference in opinion, perception. Don’t see any sinister intentions here.

  6. After hearing all the issues Caymanians have with Work Permit holders and the foreign presence in Cayman, I think they should focus their attention on the CIG to just stop issuing work permits at least for Jobs that are not considered professional and for those that do maybe shorter term limits without the option of applying for PR. A Work Permit for these roles would only be issued to a company that has a Caymanian already in place to receive training from the work permit holder whose only reason for being there is to train their Caymanian Replacement.
    If you remove all the pathways to PR from Expats then no one will complain when they have to leave because they know this is the only option. And no one will expect anything other than to come here work and get paid then go home.
    As for the effect on businesses they will soon realize that in order to do business in Cayman they will have to maintain a Caymanian Staff to keep their business running. If they have problems with this then they can take their business elsewhere.
    Regarding the amount of foreign owned land in Cayman, Caymanians should request that only Caymanians be allowed to own property in Cayman from this point on and anyone who sells would be required to sell to a Caymanian Citizen.

  7. My suggestion below should be welcome as these seem to be what the Caymanian people seems to want. It will just come down to whether the CIG will do what the people are asking for. I there is a negative effect on the economy. I am sure those that want his will feel that whatever the financial impact it would be worth it. After 5 years of so the CIG and the people can gauge the results.

    Any companies that decide to leave should quickly be replaced by Caymanian owned businesses since the foreign competition will be non existent. Caymanian unemployment should diminish to nothing since there will be plenty of Jobs for them to fill. And School leavers will have their choice of positions because Caymanian employee will be highly sought after by business owners need to keep their businesses going.

  8. @Michael Those have to be some of the most ridiculous suggestions I’ve ever heard. If you want our country to wither away, go ahead and follow those. Without foreign investment, Cayman would not be as great as it is today. If you truly think Cayman would be better off with no ex-pats then I hope you’re OK with having nearly ZERO interaction with the hospitality and service industry, because over three quarters of it is staffed by ex-pats.

  9. @Steven, Actually I agree with you regarding what would happen if Cayman was to go down the path of the scenario’s I described below. The root of my suggestions are that the people who desire this type of Cayman should look to their leaders for answers as to why things are the way they are, you know the one”s that make policy. The things I described below seem to be what the people feel will solve their issues so my suggestion is to basically take it to your elected leaders and ask them to explain why these things are not or cannot be done.
    I suspect that the answer you get from them will be politically correct, most likely designed to be what you want to hear, but not what will actually happen.