Independents ‘wrong’ on immigration issue, premier says

Alden McLaughlin
Alden McLaughlin

Banning grants of Caymanian status to long-term non-Caymanian workers who have no family ties to the Cayman Islands would be a “regressive” move that would hurt the local economy and the average Caymanian worker, Premier Alden McLaughlin said last week.

North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and East End MLA Arden McLean noted during Legislative Assembly budget debates over the past two weeks that they believed grants of Caymanian status should be reserved for individuals who are married to Caymanians or who have close Caymanian relatives.

Premier McLaughlin said he was “concerned” by this pronouncement, especially coming from Mr. McLean – a former Cabinet minister who served with Mr. McLaughlin during 2005-2009 – and characterized the statement as “playing to a particular audience.”

During his response to the budget debate, Mr. McLaughlin said, “[Mr. McLean] knows as well as I do we cannot go back to 1976. The country has advanced. We attracted outside labor and expertise to help us grow and build the country.

“When you have fair but suitable immigration policies, they help attract and keep the best and the brightest. We need to ensure that Caymanians have opportunities for available jobs, by all means. But we all know that if we are to attract new talent, we need to allow them the ability to not only to work and grow Cayman, but to also invest in the country directly, to participate fully in society and to, at a minimum, have a fair opportunity to qualify for residency.

“It will not help us to think we can put up walls and close our doors. This type of thinking is regressive and, if ever implemented, will do real harm to Cayman and Caymanians.”

Mr. McLaughlin noted the debate in Cayman’s sister British Overseas Territory, Bermuda, which has raged over the past year regarding whether the Bermudian government should allow non-belongers [foreigners with no family ties to Bermuda] to have a “path to citizenship,” similar to what Cayman maintains currently.

The premier said Bermuda “has come to appreciate” the kind of economic damage that can occur from improperly managed immigration policies.

“In regard to [Mr. McLean’s] call to stop granting Caymanian status, I have to say, in my view, he’s wrong,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Since the implementation of Cayman’s new Immigration Law regime in October 2013, no applicants for permanent residence under the new law have been granted that status. About 700 people have applied for it under the 2013 version of the law.

Permanent residence is the first step toward being granted Caymanian status in a process that typically takes about 15 years. Now, any worker who stays in Cayman as a legal resident for at least eight years is allowed to apply for permanent residence – the right to reside in Cayman for the rest of their life. The residency status does not convey citizenship rights, either in the U.K. or Caymanian status rights here, both of which must be sought separately and only after qualifying for permanent residence.


  1. “When you have fair but suitable immigration policies, they help attract and keep the best and the brightest.

    Mr. McLaughlin

    Cayman’s immigration policies have been anything BUT fair…and as far as ‘suitable’ is concerned….
    The question must be asked, ‘suitable’ for who ?

    I agree there are many issues that must be considered when forming immigration policies for a country as small as the Cayman Islands, with its limited human resources and less-than-diverse economy; a workable balance has to be found.

    But, has it been ?

    IMO and the opinion of many others…the answer is a resounding NO.

    Whether you like it or agree with it or not, the views of these two MLAs are the views of many voting Caymanians, those people whose views and futures should matter the most.

    The people who put you where you are today, to look out for and protect their interests.

    I am not being critical of the immigration system per se…it is what it is.

    What I am most critical of is the lack of oversight and supervision of the LABOUR system, which is heavily immigration driven.

    If your idea of Caymanians JUST having a job in Cayman, and not being driven, intent and allowed to be those ‘best and brightest’ who are capable of competing with your foreign ‘best and brightest’ and hold those positions in Cayman, then many of us find that totally unacceptable and highly insulting.

    Importing foreign expertise is a very short-sighted and short-term solution to Cayman’s labour issues and when we do not see long-term plans to educate and replace that foreign labour with suitably qualified Caymanians, we know that our leaders are failing us miserably.

    It is high time that the views expressed by these two MLAs be given the ear and platform of legitimate national debate that it now deserves.

    No one is listening to the drivel being shoved down Caymanians’ throats any longer that they are not as good for any positions in their own country as your ‘best and brightest’ coming from anywhere else, especially in non-specialised professions and industries.

    It is the view that demotes Caymanians to the status of second-class citizens in Cayman that is doing more damage to the relationship between some foreign residents and local residents than any views expressed by Mr. Miller and Mr. McLean.

  2. I totally agree with the Hon. Premier on this issue. The economy works best when each citizen and each resident is made to feel a part of its long term solution and viability.
    Free enterprise has little restrictions. Why place any on immigration; which can be transient at best of times.

  3. I’m just going to throw out a few figures and you can take them or leave them:
    1 person in 10 has an IQ of 120 so 10%
    1 person in 20 has an IQ of 125 so 5%
    1 person in 50 has an IQ of 130 so 2%
    Most companies look for the most intelligent (and thus capable) person for the job and many do some form of aptitude test to whittle out any non-starters.. Statistically Cayman would have at best 17% of the population with an IQ of over 120 which would be of the “best and brightest”. That would equate to approximately 3,060 people of quite a high intelligence level. There are a lot more than 3,060 jobs in Cayman which require a high IQ or level of comprehensive ability which means that there will always be a requirement for external employees just to cover the fundamental requirements. Just a thought..

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