Immigration: Work permits ‘mask’ gambling

Senior Cayman Islands Immigration officials confirmed Thursday that work permits had been granted that “masked” the illegal activities of some individuals employed in the Cayman Islands and indicated the department had investigated certain instances of that occurring.

“They have been out there selling numbers,” East End MLA Arden McLean said during a meeting of the Legislative Assembly’s Finance Committee. “There are many people in this country now on work permits and they sell numbers all day long. That’s a breach of many laws.”

Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith told the committee that the Immigration Department was aware of certain of these activities being undertaken from time to time, though he did not reference any specific cases.

“Of course, it’s done in a way to mask what is happening,” Mr. Smith said.

The situation involving a work permit holder who arrives on island and simply does not take up the job he or she was hired to do can become somewhat complicated, since it is essentially up to the employer to cancel the work permit.

“It’s not an offense because no one is working,” Mr. Smith said. “The employer, from an economic standpoint, would be best to cancel that.”

However, if someone was found to be selling numbers for gambling purposes, Mr. Smith said it would certainly fall outside work permit terms since all gambling is officially illegal in the Cayman Islands.

“In that case … that is where the offense of working outside the terms of the permit will occur,” Mr. Smith said. “Engaging in criminal activity, such as gambling … is a Penal Code matter.”

Mr. McLean asked whether the person who hired the numbers seller would also have committed an offense. Mr. Smith said that would be the case in most instances, as long as the evidence was there to support such a claim.

With regard to immigration-related offenses, Mr. Smith indicated that the department was more often leaning the way of administratively issued fines, rather than taking suspects to court – although the latter option can and does still happen, he said.

He said immigration would also work with other local law enforcement on issues of lawbreaking that fell into the realm of the criminal courts.

Premier Alden McLaughlin said the administrative fines, which are settled in a less formal manner, derive additional revenue for the Immigration Department as well.

“Therefore the cost of operating the department … is correspondingly reduced,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

Since July 1, 2015, Mr. Smith said, immigration officials brought in 537 people for questioning on various immigration offenses. A total of 354 people, about 65 percent of those, were administratively fined without having to appear in court.

The Immigration Department imposed about $372,000 in fines during the year, he said.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. The situation involving a work permit holder who arrives on island and simply does not take up the job he or she was hired to do can become somewhat complicated, since it is essentially up to the employer to cancel the work permit.

    “It’s not an offense because no one is working,” Mr. Smith said. “The employer, from an economic standpoint, would be best to cancel that.”

    It might not be an offense to not be working…but it should certainly be one to be in the country and not working while holding a work permit that says one is….or working outside the conditions of that permit.

    Is this another example of a lack of Govt. supervision over the work permit system….and labour situation, that I’ve been recently pointing out ?

    From where I stand, it certainly appears to be so.

    This type of abuse…and many others…of the current system has been ongoing for many years now….and things are getting worse.

    No one is suggesting a socialist type system where govt. regulation controls almost every aspect of life but so many issues are popping up that highlights the problem of a total lack of Govt. supervision of what happens after work permits are granted to all and sundry who can afford to pay the fees, that only the intentionally blind cannot see that a problem exists.

    Its taking Minister Tara Rivers revised Labour Law a mighty long time to come to the table of the LA to be debated and passed…any reason why ?

    Maybe because it will give the Dept. of Labour more supervisory, investigative and prosecutoral powers when offenses to the law have found to have been committed ?

    Anyone’s guess is as good as mine.

    If it takes employers and work permit holders to cancel the work permits that they are operating illegally under…we will be waiting a very long time for that to happen.

    Better to say that it never will and the abuses of the system will only continue…and increase.

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  2. If they are not working surely they are not being paid the minimum wage while under permit thus the employer would be culpable under the employment law no?

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    • Minimum wage or any wage or salary for that matter is only due and payable IF YOU WORK. So if they are not working they will not be paid, therefore the employer would not be culpable under the Labour Law. Immigration may take a different view as the employer would have (or should have) provided proof to them of the need for that work permit to have been issued. Having said that part of the problem is Immigration Officers and other government officials/employees taking out work permits for persons that they do not need and “turning them loose” in the community to find “roast work” and making them bring the employer a fee each week. ie. acting as an illegal employment agency.

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  3. Whilst selling numbers is an offence here as gambling is illegal it is not going anywhere as police, immigration and government officials buy numbers. Having said that the offence is one for the police to deal with and not Immigration or Labour. Immigration and Labour are hard pressed, for what ever reason, to even police their own laws as it appears their laws only apply to who they want them to apply to.

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  4. Marcel Young, you don’t know how right you are! So if you use Mr. Smith’s logic and apply it anywhere else in the world. They would call it fraud.

    Just saying..

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