A woman whose work permit was canceled in March was ordered this week to pay a fine or serve time in custody for the offense of overstaying.
Hermie Flores Castro, 36, pleaded guilty to the charge, agreeing that she had remained in Cayman without valid permission since March 28, 2018.
Immigration officials in court advised that she was charged and not dealt with administratively because she had not taken advantage of the amnesty period offered by the Immigration Department.
The chance to leave without penalty ran from 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 1 until 3 p.m. on Aug. 30. Ms. Flores Castro was arrested on Sept. 22.
She was first brought before Magistrate Valdis Foldats on Monday afternoon, when she was told she would have to remain in custody until the next day when her case could be dealt with.
On Tuesday, Crown counsel Kenneth Ferguson told the court that the defendant had been employed as a domestic helper, but the employer canceled the permit on March 28.
Defense attorney John Furniss questioned if anything was said to Ms. Flores Castro or whether she was “made aware” of the situation.
The magistrate observed that, even if she was not told, an obvious inference could be made from the fact that she was not going to a workplace.
Mr. Furniss explained that Ms. Flores Castro, who is from the Philippines, had been in Cayman for nine years and would have come to the end of her term limit and been rolled over next month. He pointed out that she had not been earning any money, but had been staying with her boyfriend.
The magistrate agreed that there was no charge for working illegally, but the court had to send a message to people: “You can’t simply ignore the law and decide to stay without permission.”
He pointed out that the court could not say to people that they had broken the law so now, “Just go home.” Then, the question became how much of Cayman’s resources should be spent keeping her here.
Ms. Flores Castro had nine years to earn money, the magistrate noted, so she must have funds or people to rely on. On that basis, he concluded that a fine would be appropriate. He asked how much the fine would be if the matter had been dealt with administratively. He was told $200 to $600 for a first offense.
The magistrate told Ms. Flores Castro, “If you bury your head in the sand and don’t rectify the situation, you pay a heavier penalty.”
He concluded that the appropriate sentence was a fine of $1,000 or 90 days in default of payment. He said he was giving her the option of a fine so that she would not be a burden on this country.
“Go into custody until the money is paid,” he told her.
As she left the dock, Ms. Flores Castro had a few moments to communicate with a man in the public gallery before she continued down the stairs into the courthouse cells.