Many of our readers are aware of the guidelines we have put in place regarding letters to the editor and content submitted for publication in the Cayman Compass newspaper and website. One of the most important is that writers attach their real names to their commentary.
However, we retain the editorial discretion to depart from those general prescriptions when we feel it is justified – an extremely rare occurrence. Today, we have decided to exercise that discretion.
The letter, “Stuck in PR limbo,” is a significant and compelling first-person account of what it’s like to be on the Cayman Islands permanent residence waiting list, which has been getting longer since the Progressives government passed its new immigration law more than three years ago. Premier Alden McLaughlin recently has said the government may not even attempt to address this contentious issue until after the election in May next year.
The signature on the letter is an obvious pseudonym, “Concerned Mother,” but, for the record, we know the actual identity of the author. It is clear, and concerning, why someone in such a vulnerable position would not wish to use her real name. Simply put, she fears retribution from government authorities, who are dangling the lives of the writer, and her family, on a string.
The letter should be required reading for Governor Helen Kilpatrick, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, elected Cayman lawmakers, immigration officials, members of the voting public and the population as a whole.
The letter puts a personal face on the otherwise abstract legal issue in which Premier McLaughlin’s government has embroiled the Cayman Islands. One cannot read this letter and not understand that the more than 800 expatriates who have applied for PR (well over half of whom have been awaiting a decision for a year or longer) are real people with families and children.
As the writer phrases it, “While my issues and worries may not be of any material concern to the political administration or Cayman constituents, it is because of their legislative commitment in October 2013 that my family is now in a position of grave uncertainty, with regards to our careers, our ability to earn a livelihood … and the education of our children.”
Many of the people on the PR waiting list, such as the writer, have been in Cayman for more than 10 years, which is significant because the legal benchmark from global authorities recognizes that after a decade, the right to security of tenure should be granted. Cayman is in grave jeopardy – legally, reputationally and financially – for ignoring these international norms.
The writer understands that elected lawmakers may not care about her plight because she cannot vote, and that many Caymanians may not care because to them she is just one in a crowd of nameless “foreigners.”
However, the writer rightly points out, as we do, that the Progressives legislators themselves created this quagmire when they passed the immigration law, setting out specific requirements for people to obtain PR, inviting them to apply – and then refusing to follow the very law they wrote, approved and enacted.
Despite this callousness, the writer insists upon what is an especially important point: She, and others, have worked hard, blended in, followed the rules, and now they want to stay – on the terms etched into law by Cayman’s government.