An immigration decision that would have led to the deportation of two Honduran children last month has been temporarily blocked pending a further review of the case by the Immigration Appeals Tribunal.
According to a request for a court injunction filed Aug. 22, the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board denied an application for the children, ages 8 and 11, to remain with their mother in the Cayman Islands. The request, according to court records, was denied on the basis that the woman and her Caymanian husband did not have sufficient financial means to support the two children.
The children, whom the Cayman Compass is not identifying due to their age, came to Cayman in November 2015 after being abandoned in their home country, court records state.
“They were abandoned and abused by the people charged with caring for them, who also did not feed them and refused to send them to school,” the injunction request states.
The situation involving the children’s mother – who is also originally from Honduras – is common enough in the Cayman Islands, where a person from an economically poorer country comes to Cayman to work while leaving their children in the care of relatives at home. However, in this case, the attorney representing the family, Amelia Fosuhene, said the relocation of the children was necessary to avoid the dangerous, abusive situation they found themselves in.
Moreover, the attorney said, there was no one at home in Honduras with whom they could safely stay if they were to return, and the mother – who has been in Cayman for the last four years – had no prospects of employment there or means to take care of herself or her children without her husband’s assistance.
“There was no family available to look after the children and their only living family, their mother, was in Grand Cayman,” the court records indicate. The children are not related by blood to their mother’s Caymanian husband. They are the mother’s children from a previous relationship.
Ms. Fosuhene said if the court injunction had not been issued for 60 days, the two children and their mother would have faced arrest and deportation from the Cayman Islands.
The matter is due to come before the court again in late September. A date for the Immigration Appeals Tribunal hearing on the issue had not yet been set, she said.
According to ourt records, the immigration-related boards have a set policy that determines how much an individual must earn to support dependents on their work permit or permanent residence grant. The policy requires earnings of $3,500 per month to support one dependent and an extra $1,000 per month for each additional dependent, the court records indicated.
To support the two children as dependents, either the woman herself, or the married couple, would have to earn at least $4,500 per month. In this case, attorneys stated the family, including the Caymanian father, had made certain arrangements to lower their monthly costs and enable the children to stay on island comfortably.
“It is noted that this is a policy [of the boards] and not a legal requirement set down in any primary legislation,” the injunction application states.
“The board has issued a blanket, one-size-fits-all policy which can at best be described as discriminatory when determining this application,” Ms. Fosuhene’s submission to the Grand Court states. “The … policy falls foul of the Cayman Islands Constitution [Order 2009] in that it will automatically and disproportionately discriminate against those who come to work within the Cayman Islands from predominantly non-white jurisdictions. In addition, the policy disproportionately affects those who are deemed to be from a lower social origin and because they may have less by way of property.”
The court application also alleges breaches of sections 16 (non-discrimination) and 19 (lawful administrative action) of the Constitution. The application requests that the immigration tribunal “exercises discretion” in the case, allowing the children to remain in Cayman with their mother and her husband.