On Friday morning, Premier Alden McLaughlin appeared on a local talk radio show where he addressed the subject of the Cayman Islands government’s mounting problems with permanent residence applications.

Given the vital importance of the matter, Premier McLaughlin’s words were welcome — or at least … they would have been, had he shared with listeners his plans for dealing with the approximately 800 people languishing on the PR waiting list and his strategy for defending against potential court claims for monetary damages suffered by the more-than-half of that group who have been waiting for decisions for more than a year.

Instead, Premier McLaughlin fell into the politically predictable, but practically unhelpful, pattern of offering facile excuses for how he and his government wound up in this legal and humanitarian quagmire (wholly of their own making). Nowhere, amidst all the deflections, diversions and defensiveness did he explain what his government is going to do about it now.

Premier McLaughlin did, however, take time to criticize this newspaper’s coverage and commentary on the PR issue. He even stated on a local TV news program that the Cayman Compass’s agenda is to compel government to grant PR to all expatriates in Cayman.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In order to edify Premier McLaughlin and others, let us again, and unequivocally, state our position on the PR backlog:

We have never argued that all, or any, of the 800 PR applications should be approved. What we have argued is that Premier McLaughlin and his Progressives government should follow the immigration law that they created, passed and enacted. That means considering, deliberating on and deciding upon those applications (either thumbs-up or thumbs-down) in a timely fashion. Their refusal to follow the dictates of Cayman law has put our government (and the public treasury) at great risk.

As important as the legal and financial consequences of government’s three years of lack of progress on this issue are the humanitarian consequences.

While the Progressives have purposefully (and we would argue politically) dawdled, the 800 PR applicants (plus their spouses and children) have been languishing in limbo, deprived not only of security of tenure, but of certainty of where they stand. Their lives are on indefinite hold as are many of their careers. Ask yourself this question: If you were a manager, would you promote an employee who could be leaving at any minute?

The attitude demonstrated by the premier and his government toward the plight of the PR applicants is telling – and appalling. Historically, when elected officials refuse to uphold a particular group’s human, civil or political rights, the courts step in to do what the legislatures will not. This is already beginning to happen in Cayman.

On television, Premier McLaughlin said new immigration legislation is being worked out, based on the “Ritch Report,” but it may not be ready before the May election — another six months from now. In other words, another lengthy delay.

We cannot reconcile the premier’s apparent lack of urgency with rulings by Chief Justice Anthony Smellie and more recently, the U.K. Privy Council insisting upon the timely consideration of immigration applications.

Also, we do not see how new legislation can remedy the damage already suffered by 800 people who applied under the prevailing law. The consequences continue to accrue with each passing day.

Premier McLaughlin said on the radio he would announce his government’s plans for PR applications in another forum. We will offer him that forum — this newspaper.

With the sole proviso that Premier McLaughlin focus his remarks on what he and his Progressives government plan to do about the PR problem, we will donate as much space as necessary, free of editing and free of charge, in the Compass.

We would hope Mr. McLaughlin would cease trying to reframe this issue as a “Compass vs. Government” matter. It is nothing of the sort. Permanent residence is an issue of great consequence to our entire country, and the Compass is simply pointing out the obvious: Our government must face it – and fix it.

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4 COMMENTS

  1. I would not dare to say that editorial of the Cayman Compass is not aware of their tripping’s and frills when it comes to PR and Status grants to expatriates in Cayman. I do understand how they may be thinking concerning Premier Alden’s views expressed on local TV, that the Cayman Compass agenda is to compel government to grant PR to all expatriates. But the Compass is saying “Nothing could be further from the truth” Really? well my suggestion is this media need to revisit how they send thoughts via the Compass, they are clearly sending the wrong messages. I can read very well and your reports does seem like you have an agenda on this PR granting.
    I am not a PPM supporter; however I do respect and support the Premier and a few others in his party on some things. I do not support them all and I have my very good reasons for that.
    I have always been a die-hard UDP, and that too does not suggest that I support all on that team. However when it comes down to “Cayman deserves straight talk on PR” my suggestion that it is no time for party division. and the nonsense of who is for who, and to agree and do what is right what ever that may be.

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  2. Unfortunately we are not a country of great legal sophistication when it comes to our polices and laws. We have politicians who give great speeches, but none of them actually make sure that any of them get followed. The legal structure of any “sophisticated” nation is based upon precedent and consistency, but sadly we have many in our country who believe that new residents represent a threat, not an asset.

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  3. This is a re-post of comments made on a previous editorial on the same topic but are as or more relevant to today’s editorial; hopefully, they will shed some light on the issue.

    Twyla

    I love your candidness..and straight talk…and the black and white of the law is as straight as it gets…albeit a bit boring for those who like a bit of juicy local ‘passa passa’ ( a Jamaican term for scandalous quarrels).

    Here it is…in the straight talk of the law, as it currently stands…and its not too complicated for some….and way too complicated for others…to understand.

    Successive Cayman Islands Governments have been allowed to adjust local immigration laws to suit the needs of Cayman and the current system in place has been there since the 1970s and tweaked periodically over many years but the basic tenet has always been…Caymanians will allow foreigners to visit…and work in the Cayman Islands but the route to legal and permanent residency in the country has always been restricted and limited to certain very specific conditions.

    If the Cayman Islands was an independent country, this would not create a problem but the Cayman Islands is a British Overseas Territory and subject to some very important international treaties as a part of Great Britain.

    The British immigration law is very simple in its providance for any foreign national to become a permanent resident of the UK and in theory, it should work in basically the same way across the board for all British territories.

    That providance is that after 10 continous years of residence in Great Britain, a person has the right to file for permanent residence in the United Kingdom as long as they have been a productive member of society and have no significant criminal record; they pay their application fees, go through the vetting and interview process and if all is in order, they become permanent residents of the United Kingdom.

    Its that simple; there is no attempt or purpose in place to intentionally deny people the right that the law already allows them or Government attempt to limit the number of PRs that are granted, once the applicant meet the qualifications required.

    And…there lies the crux of the matter…the Cayman Islands, as a BOT, are in violation of British immigration and human rights laws by holding up the processing of these PR applications.

    It will be a highly charged and emotional issue in Cayman if this matter ends up in either a Caymanian or British court and as the matter stands, unless this impasse is broken, that is exactly where it is headed

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  4. J Bodden

    Truer words never spoken…and unfortunately, this condition has come to define Caymanian culture and daily life.

    It has created a ‘Dodge City’ environment in Cayman, with the current political leader of the moment, whoever he may be, assuming the role of the ‘Wyatt Earp’ of the town, abiding and enforcing no laws but his own by whatever means necessary.

    A sitting Premiere., appearing on a radio talk show to discuss and comment on a matter as serious and consequential as the PR situation is clearly geared to pander to political support and tap into the lowest level of the emotional responses that this issue generates.

    This atmosphere of conflict and confrontation is the norm in the Cayman Islands now, with reason and rationality taking a far distant last place…if indeed, they are in the race any at all.

    In truth and fact, the Cayman Islands is a most unpleasant and unwelcoming place to live now, even for some of its own born citizens.

    Why fight to live in a country that clearly does not want you there ?

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