The Department of Immigration graduated a class of nine new officers Friday, marking the final recruitment cohort before the department merges with Her Majesty’s Customs service in 2019.
Acting Chief Immigration Officer Bruce Smith called the graduation ceremony at Agape Family Worship Centre in George Town the beginning of a new chapter.
“We said to the recruits, this is not the end. This is the beginning; this is the commencement,” he said.
“It’s a bittersweet moment. We are happy for the recruits who toiled for a whole year to get to where they are today. Many sleepless nights, collaboration with their teams, working with colleagues, getting posted to various areas, brought them here and they’ve done well.”
In addition to learning immigration law, customer service and best practices, this class was also among the first to learn about duties under the forthcoming Customs and Border Control Agency, explained graduate Kimberlee Rivers-Taylor.
This agency will implement what has been described as an “intelligence-led” approach to processing arriving passengers at air and sea ports, while employment-related aspects of immigration will fall to another new agency, named Workforce Opportunities and Residency Cayman, known as WORC.
“I feel ecstatic right now. It has been such an exuberant experience working with my department so far. I have been one of the first trainees to engage in the cross-training for Customs as well, in preparation for the merger in 2019. I feel very excited to be a part of this,” she said.
Ms. Rivers-Taylor described an intense and at times uncertain year, but for her, the work has been worthwhile.
“I did a lot of crying, a lot of preparation, a lot of studying because I wasn’t settling for mediocrity. I prayed a lot, was on my knees a lot and now I’m here today. It all paid off. I’m glad for that,” she said.
“I’ve always had a calling to be a part of a law enforcement agency. I actually applied to Police, but I got through with Immigration and here’s where my talents and skills [were] unveiled. I’m so happy to serve my country and be part of protecting our borders.”
Fellow graduate Landie Ebanks described a similar sense of pride and accomplishment.
“I’m immensely excited. It’s been 12 long months, lots of ups, lots of downs and it feels really good that it has finally come together, that all of the hard work has finally paid off,” Mr. Ebanks said.
“I was a bit naïve before and Immigration has really shaped me, made me into this sharp person and it opened me to a lot of things I was not aware of. So I feel the Department of Immigration has made me into a completely different and better person.”
Other graduates were: Kimberly Glasgow, Estina Hamil, Keriann Powell, Emmarie Powery-Rosales, Rudy Walton, Marcella Wright and Stephene Wright.
The new officers were received at the ceremony by Acting Governor Franz Manderson and immigration officials, including Jenifer Gager-Sterling, Tamara Reid-Vernon and Garfield Wong.
Compass journalist Alvaro Serey contributed to this story.