A consultant’s review of the Cayman Islands Immigration Law completed earlier this year is “not intended” for publication, according to Premier Alden McLaughlin.
However, the premier said Monday that the public will know shortly what his administration intends to do with the advice from David Ritch, one of Cayman’s foremost immigration attorneys and former chairman of the Work Permit Board.
The fate of more than 600 non-Caymanians who have applied for permanent residence under the territory’s Immigration Law hang in the balance.
“I do understand and am deeply concerned about resolving this issue urgently,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
As far as Mr. Ritch’s review, which was presented to the premier and Attorney General Sam Bulgin in the late spring, Mr. McLaughlin said, in his view, the report constitutes legally privileged advice.
“Government is considering and will act on the advice, but it should be understood that this advice is subject to legal professional privilege,” he said. “As such, the advice is not intended for publication.”
The Cayman Compass has filed an open records request for the consultant’s report under the Freedom of Information Law.
Mr. McLaughlin said his announcement about what changes government would make to the process of permanent residence applications and approvals would be made before the start of the next Legislative Assembly meeting, tentatively set for September.
Cayman lawmakers have been facing pressure on immigration issues since August 2015, when a landmark ruling by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie cited two major areas of concern in the Immigration Law. As a result of that ruling, two women who waited nearly a decade for a decision on their cases, were recently granted permanent residence by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.
Justice Smellie’s decision dealt with the actions of the appeals tribunal in the two cases in which the non-Caymanian workers had applied for residence. The actions, said the judge, amounted to a “miscarriage of justice” and required a rehearing of the case. The matter was reheard in June and the women were awarded permanent residence on July 12.
The second issue involved the awarding of points toward permanent residence that the court said caused “immediate and obvious concerns” about how applicants’ occupations were scored.
“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 assessment of their importance in the context of the local economy,” Mr. Smellie wrote in his judgment.
In all of 2015 and the first half of this year, no permanent residence applications were decided – either approved or denied – under the revised Immigration Law that took effect in October 2013. The two women who challenged their cases before the court, leading to Justice Smellie’s ruling, had applied for residency under earlier versions of the Immigration Law.
Before 2015, a total of 12 applications filed under the revised Immigration Law were denied. The denials were issued in late 2013 and 2014.
No one has been awarded permanent residence under the revised legislation since Oct. 26, 2013.