Prosecutions for immigration offences will not be carried out for the duration of the coronavirus crisis in the Cayman Islands, Premier Alden McLaughlin said during a Saturday press briefing.
“We’ve taken the approach that, although this is going to require legislation, we can do that retroactively,” he said.
“There will be no attempt to enforce or to prosecute or do anything to people with respect to their immigration status during this crisis.”
While the Customs and Border Control extensions and visa counters are closed until further notice, McLaughlin explained that foreign workers would not be punished if their work permits expire during the crisis. To address the issue, government will need to organise a sitting of the Legislative Assembly that complies with public health guidelines.
“We are trying to figure out how we can actually have a meeting of the Legislative Assembly virtually or with requisite social distancing measures in place,” McLaughlin said.
“We certainly cannot have all of the members in the Legislative Assembly because the seats are just too close. Opportunities to brush against people are just too great. So, we’re trying to figure out, as is the UK, how we can have a virtual meeting of the Legislative Assembly.”
Such a meeting would look at the Immigration Law, as well as pensions and vehicle registrations.
McLaughlin described vehicle registration renewals as another “troublesome issue” at the moment. While certain renewal and registration needs may be carried out online, at http://www.dvdl.gov.ky/, registrations cannot currently be extended online for vehicles in need of inspection.
“We’re looking at what we can do with that as well,” McLaughlin said. “Otherwise, a lot of people are going to be driving around without properly licensed vehicles because they simply do not have the ability to actually have them inspected. So, we are looking at that as well.”
The premier explained that while Cabinet has been able to act on certain issues under the Public Health Law and the Police Law, additional legislation is needed to address the full range of community needs.
“We are able to deal with the curfew and all of the measures we are taking there because we already have the Public Health Law and Police Law, which allows Cabinet to make regulations,” he said.
“But to amend legislation requires a meeting of the House.”