EDITORIAL – One man’s tortuous road to Cayman status

Regular readers of the Compass may be aware of a story we published a few days ago chronicling the latest accomplishment of ultramarathoner Kerri Kanuga. Ms. Kanuga had just successfully completed a 135-mile run beginning in the Death Valley heat of the California desert.

“I didn’t die, which is good,” reported Ms. Kanuga.

We agree, and applaud Ms. Kanuga, both for her grit and her generosity. She dedicates her extraordinary physical feats to child cancer survivor Hannah Meeson and raises money (more than $40,000 to date) for the St. Baldrick’s Foundation with each of her runs. Congratulations and thank you, Ms. Kanuga.

And yet, Ms. Kanuga has an equal in another ultramarathoner, Terrance William Delaney, who must hold the record for endurance in battling the bureaucracy and, in particular, the Cayman Immigration Board.

About two weeks ago, on July 20, Mr. Delaney was informed he had finally been awarded the “right to be Caymanian” (aka Cayman status). He is, and deserves to be, our newest citizen (by grant).

Mr. Delaney’s saga dates back to the mid-1990s, when he arrived here to practice his trade as a substance abuse counselor. In 2005 he was granted permanent residence – a welcome event which, unfortunately, came with a very high price tag.

In years prior, his employer (by law) was responsible for paying his annual work permit fees. That responsibility shifts, however, to the individual once he becomes a permanent resident. For Mr. Delaney, the news got worse.

Apparently, the Immigration Department had erred when it initially placed Mr. Delaney in the same work permit category as a chartered account, banker or, importantly, medical doctor – with attendant work permit fees of $10,000-$25,000 per year. Counselors pay $3,850.

Nevertheless, according to Mr. Delaney, immigration officials refused to recalculate the fees even after the error was brought to their attention. Put another way, Mr. Delaney was being forced to pay a medical doctor’s fee on a substance abuse counselor’s income.

In 2012, Mr. Delaney applied for Caymanian status, but the board refused to consider his application, solely, it appears, because of the unresolved dispute over his permit fees. For the next five years, Mr. Delaney remained in legal limbo while his attorneys sought to have his status application heard on its merits.

In November 2017, the case came before the Immigration Appeals Tribunal, which declared in its July 20 letter to Mr. Delaney’s attorneys:

“The Tribunal determined grounds of appeal have been made out as the Caymanian Status and Permanent Residency Board acted unreasonably by taking into account irrelevant matters specifically, the outstanding fees in relation to work permits and permanent residency in refusing the appellant’s application for the Right to be Caymanian.”

And then the good news: “This appeal is unanimously allowed and the Right to be Caymanian on the Grounds of Naturalisation is granted to the appellant.”

And so, approximately 19 years after Mr. Delaney arrived on Cayman shores, he finally has gotten his due – full recognition and rights that Caymanian status bestows.

Reacting to the good news, Mr. Delaney was reflective – certainly not bitter or resentful: “My primary desire, presently,” he said, “is that no one ever goes through a journey like this in the future.”

Congratulations, Mr. Delaney. We are delighted you stayed the course. Lesser men, we fear, would not have.

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  1. The way that Mr. Delaney was treated by the Cayman government — mis-charging for work permits, endless delays in his progressing up the immigration chain — is shameful. It makes the government’s true agenda very transparent, doesn’t it? Congratulations to Mr. Delaney for persevering (and thanks to those at the Immigration Appeals Tribunal who ultimately did the right thing). It’s too bad that Mr. Delaney can’t now run for office and help bring about changes so that those coming along behind him can be assured of better treatment. Of course, the government has roadblocks for that as well — no political office-holding until the generation following the “status” achiever, as I recall. “CAYMANKIND”, huh ???