Magistrate Valdis Foldats sentenced another overstayer to eight months imprisonment last week, citing harm to the country’s economy.
Everol Everton Ellis, 61, pleaded guilty on Thursday to overstaying since Feb. 27, 2015.
Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson said Immigration officers went to an address in Prospect on June 19, acting on information received. Mr. Ellis was arrested and cautioned. When he was interviewed the next day, he admitted he had remained here illegally after an application for a work permit was refused.
Mr. Ellis said he had come to Cayman from Jamaica in 2005 as a carpenter. In recent years he had worked as a mason three or four days a week at $10 to $12 per hour. He had worked “for various persons” and had been living with a friend.
Defense attorney Neil Kumar said Mr. Ellis knew he was doing wrong, but he took a chance because he had children to support. A lot of the money he made “has gone back to Jamaica,” the attorney explained.
The magistrate thanked Mr. Ellis for his guilty plea and cooperation and said sentencing for this kind of case was something he struggled with.
What overstaying meant was that Mr. Ellis had taken jobs away from people who had the right to work. He was harming Caymanians and people from other countries who were here legally.
“Someone has been harboring you – that’s illegal,” the magistrate pointed out.
“The people employing you are committing crimes,” he added.
He hoped enforcement authorities would check the employers who had encouraged Mr. Ellis’s illegal work.
“An underground economy with illegal workers is offensive to the law,” he said.
He set the same penalty he had determined earlier in the week for a man who had admitted overstaying for six years. The sentence was 12 months, with one-third discount for the guilty plea, for a total of eight months.
“I hope the word gets out. I hope people stop doing this,” he concluded.
In the first case, he urged authorities to devise a meaningful sentence that would not cost the state so much money in terms of providing food and shelter in prison. He raised the question of whether overstayers might be housed at the Immigration Detention Centre but allowed out during the day to perform community service.