Permanent residence grants: The number is still zero

More than 500 people have applied for permanent residence status under the new Cayman Islands Immigration Law in the past two years. This is how many people have been granted PR status under the new law: Zero.

We hope the Progressives’ approach to immigration isn’t going precisely according to plan.

For those who might cheer the lack of new permanent residents as an indication that the country is becoming more “Caymanian,” or at least, less “foreign,” we regret to inform you that, at last count, there are 22,618 people here in Cayman on active work permits — an increase of about 10 percent since September 2013, before the new law went into effect.

We, when it comes to population figures, welcome increases across the board, in any category — Caymanian, non-Caymanian, residents, visitors — so long as they translate to better employment numbers, and most importantly, a higher standard of living for everyone in these islands. To put it another way, we are unabashedly pro-growth and pro-development.

To those who decry the disappearance of the “Cayman of yesteryear,” lament the loss of pristine vistas and rue the hurrying-up of our country’s beloved laid-back lifestyle … we hear you. Those are all problems associated with growth and development. And who wouldn’t, in an ideal word, prefer a Cayman with secluded beaches, open roads and an easygoing business environment? That, after all, is what brought many of us here in the first place, and what has encouraged many of us born here to stay.

But Cayman, sadly, already has had a metastasizing growth problem — of the civil service, whose salaries, pensions and healthcare have to be paid for by somebody (meaning everyone else). There are two solutions to this problem: dramatically reduce the size, and cost, of the civil service (which we will believe when we see); or increase the stream of revenue to the public sector’s proverbial trough.

Duty rates and fees can only be hiked so much before they begin to have a downward impact on the total amounts being collected, so the surest way to increase tax revenues, in the long term, is to increase the tax base — i.e., the number of taxpayers, that is, residents, workers and visitors — and to facilitate the conduct of business in the country.

In the absence of a reduction in the size of the government payroll — and government spending on important (if not essential) services and capital projects —  growth is the only way to go if we want to keep Cayman’s economy watertight.

That is why we disagree fundamentally with the view, practiced if not openly preached by the Progressives, that having fewer new residents is better for Caymanians.

What we find even more troubling than the recent 11 PR applications being denied by the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board is the fact that hundreds more remain stuck in the gears of the bureaucracy and so haven’t yet been considered.

In addition to the apparent lack of respect being shown by government officials for those people whose only offense is wishing to live in Cayman forever, we also observe potential fodder for challenges in court, following the scathing August ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie.

In his judgment, the chief justice blasted the Immigration Appeals Tribunal for perpetrating a “miscarriage of justice” in two instances he reviewed, and then more generally stated “immediate and obvious concerns” about the Immigration Law’s “points system” for permanent residence.

Ironically, if the government makes an effort to alter the system in order to conform to Justice Smellie’s guidance, that may result in even further delays for the PR applicants, potentially generating more reason to appeal the future rejections that now seem to be predestined.

Putting a draconian immigration policy in place is not the best economic strategy, but if done transparently, and in line with constitutional and international laws, it’s perfectly fair. Cloaking policy intentions in bureaucratic red tape, on the other hand, is not.

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  1. More than 500 people have applied for permanent residence status under the new Cayman Islands Immigration Law in the past two years. This is how many people have been granted PR status under the new law: Zero.

    We hope the Progressives’ approach to immigration isn’t going precisely according to plan.

    I think this is going exactly to plan. It is pretty damn obvious. Or it gross incompetence on a paralyzing scale. If I were to bet not much will be done until after the next election.

  2. Don’t forget about non-performance issue here. They took money in exchange for something they appear have no intend to deliver. And as someone had mentioned the applicants continue wasting money on annual police clearance reports, medical reports etc.

  3. I always wonder if people ever take the time to realize the size of the Cayman Islands? Has anyone truly consider and wonder, where all the people will fit. We are not a big country, just a tiny little dot in the middle of the sea with miles of water to reach anyone else. If five hundred people are given status, are they going to live where they are living now or build homes? We will run out of space; then you will hear everybody complaining about the rise in crime, it takes 3 hours to get into George Town, cant get a seat at the restaurant or the beach is crowded. We can only accommodate so many people.
    I am not going to run down my immigration department, nor the PR and SG boards no matter what anyone try to dictate. I think they are doing an exceptionally good job.
    I try not to make anything pass me when it come to my Island, and as far as the present government is concerned, If there is nothing better to replace them come 2017, then they stay. I have learnt through many ways that all glitters is not gold.

    ***Editor’s Note: Just for the sake of perspective, consider that Grand Cayman has a population of 55,000 people and an area of 76 square miles. Bermuda has a population of 64,000 people and an area of 21 square miles. The Borough of Manhattan has a population of 1.6 million people and an area of 23 square miles.***

  4. Is there no honor in government?

    After all the elected government of the people of Cayman went to great length to create legislation to allow for permanent residency of people of character, good nature and hard work ethic into this country to live their lives as committed members of the community.

    Why after passing such legislation does the government allow unelected bureaucrats to chose to not enact it?

    This is in effect what is happening.

    If the people of Cayman (through their government) choose NOT to allow immigrants, so be it. However to make a false promise to people who have made a life for themselves here thinking one day to would be a permanent one, is just wrong.

    Either allow for eligible immigrants to be here or not. Just don’t lie about it and say there is an immigration policy and program if there really is not.

  5. Comments such as the ones below from those that represent Cayman’s people and are clearly reflected in Cayman’s immigration laws are actually welcome do me, its good to know where you stand. Which is why I would never bother to apply for PR nor recommend it to anyone. I know it’s in my best interest to never think of Cayman as home or ever expect I could actually be a real part of the community.

    My time in Cayman will never be anything more than an extended vacation so I treat it as such.

    I got no problem with being driftwood just don’t ask the same of me that you expect from someone that’s welcome to stay for good.