Immigration says come clean

| 11/06/2010

(CNS): People who are currently in the Cayman Islands illegally or employers who are holding work permits for people who are no longer properly employed are being offered a window of opportunity to come clean without fear of prosecution. Throughout the whole of next month the Immigration Department will be holding an amnesty for employers in regard to certain offences and for individual illegal aliens who no longer have the right to be here. The department said it estimated that there are some 250 over-stayers currently on island. The amnesty which starts on 1 July and lasts until 31 July comes ahead of a planned clamp down on immigration offences.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans said this opportunity gives employers the chance to regularise their affairs with staff and those who are here illegally time to depart without fear of prosecution before a beefed up enforcement operation begins in August .
“Persons who are caught then will face being prosecuted or being administratively fined,” she explained . “In either case it would hamper their ability to obtain further work permits from the boards. For the more serious offences, prosecution will be sought and possibly deportation.” 
The maximum penalty for overstaying is a fine of CI$20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years, and the penalties for work permit offences range from fines between CI$5,000 and CI$15,000 and imprisonment of up to one year.
The department has had amnesties in the past but it is almost six years since the last one. It was decided that now would be an appropriate time to offer an amnesty before a planned joint operation with other law enforcement agencies starts in August with the goalof clamping down on immigration offences.
“We want to give persons and companies the opportunity to regularise their situation without the fear of being prosecuted,” Evans added. “Those who take advantage of the amnesty and come in to cancel work permits for those individuals they have no or insufficient work for will not be prosecuted and those individuals affected will be given time during the amnesty period to get themselves sorted out to depart.”
Over-stayers who turn up at either the immigration headquarters or the ports and inform the officers that they are taking advantage of this will be allowed to depart without fear of prosecution. The amnesty applies to work permits of convenience, persons holding valid work permits but not sufficient work, and illegal landing aliens. When employers cancel work permits for employees that they do not have work for, the employee in question will then be expected to leave the territory before the expiry of the amnesty.
The Immigration Department is asking people who are not sure of their Immigration status to go to its Enforcement Section, where checks will be carried out to determine their legality.
Foreign nationals who are here illegally and who want to take advantage of the amnesty can make an airline reservation and leave during the period without fear of apprehension at the airport. Employers who wish to cancel work permits can submit a letter to the Department of Immigration marked “Amnesty”, informing the CIO of the details of the permits they want to cancel.
Employees whose work permits have been cancelled either by employers or by themselves should report to the Immigration Headquarters with confirmed reservations for their departure during the amnesty period. The employee’s passport would then be endorsed for a specific time to facilitate departure from the Islands during the amnesty period.
“I urge those who are in a position to take advantage of this amnesty to do so. Those who forego this opportunity will be making a serious error of judgement and can expect to face serious consequences,” Evans said. “Every day we hear countless complaints about immigration offences being committed and the effect that this has on our territory. This is a golden opportunity for Caymanian employers to play a part in reducing immigration crime in their country and I expect that they will act responsibly and turn in work permits for employees that they no longer can provide work for.”
She urged everyone who is here illegally to leave, safe in the knowledge that they will not be prosecuted. But she said people offering illegal aliens jobs and housing after the amnesty will face the consequences when they are caught.
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Comments (19)

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  1. Rorschach says:

    I suppose next we will be seeing Customs declaring an "Amnesty" for importers of illegal drugs and goods…and the fire department declaring and amnesty for arsonists…and so on and so on…seems to me like these latest "Brilliant Ideas" are just another way for the powers that be to get the offenders to do the jobs that they are either too lazy or too scared to do…how about this for an idea??  RCIP…go out and actually gather evidence and arrest and CONVICT the criminals instead of spouting off about a "10 Year Plan"..do you honestly expect that if this crap keeps up, that there will be any one here in ten years??  Immigration..get some more officers in the Enforcement section and get them working early mornings and late evenings…the skells you are looking for don’t keep 9-5 hours..why should you??  As for Customs and Fire Service, Keep doing what your doing..I was only ribbing you guys..

  2. Dennis says:

    I am so happy to see so many new persons to the Islands commenting on these news items.

    Those of us that haved liked here for many years have seen at least five such amnesty’s offered by the Immigration Department.

    Oh and to those persons who claim that the Department should get a computer system- can anyone tell me what the immigration officers at the airport are using when the scan our passports and input our data- I am sure its called a computer.

    Please do a bit of research before posting- it always helps!

    • Anonymous says:

      Maybe what the writer meant to say was the department should learn to use their computers. 

  3. robert says:

    I have read this what I consider to be carefully worded statement with interest and have a few questions for the CIO,the answers to which would really satisfy my curiosity.

    1.Is someone who has been convicted of aggravated burglary and sentenced to a term of not less than six years or more than fifteen years and not having received a free pardon be considered a prohibited immigrant?

    2.Is a prohibited immigrant allowed to be employed by the C.I Govt. or are they exempt?

    3.Does the CIO have any power to enforce the law against a prohibited immigrant that is employed by the C.I.Govt. or not because of the fact they were not granted a "work permit" but rather a "contract" because it is Govt.?

    4.Does the CIO have any power to enforce the law against persons who willingly and knowingly assisted a prohibited immigrant to land and be employed by the C.I. Govt.?2@$

    As a concerned and frustrated citizen I anxiously await a reply.

  4. Anonymous says:

    It is truly amazing to see Linda just reach immigration and see the NEED for this already but like one other poster said you should start from the 15th of June till 15th of July .I remember when immigration  would drive about all time of day and night collecting people and sending them back .I think we should put a women in charge of Police and Northward and many other departments i could name a few. Cayman you need to back this woman as many of you KNOW and HAVE people here that time is long gone for them and you continue to keep them .Keep up the Good Job Linda……

  5. Anonymous says:

    Beautiful idea but why are we waiting until July 1st to start; I would let it run from June 15th to July 15th.

  6. anonymous says:

    It’s about time!!!! the Amnesty was long overdue 6 years times 250 over-stayers.  Immigration keep up the good works don’t stop cleaning.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Good – this might give me some opportunity to commit some robberies before Immigration even come looking for me – when and if they catch me I’ll take the pathetic "administrative" fine – none of the prosecutors or magistrates would ever let them really punish me, no matter what that stupid law says…

    One thing I am pretty sure of is that the Police won’t catch me.

     

    Come on Linda! We need deterrent!  Deal with these people and do so harshly – most are not criminals otherwise – but find all 250, and their 250 employers, and lock all 500 up for a week, then make the employers pay for the flights home for the 250.

     

    Then it will stop.  

    • Anonymous says:

      Employers have already paid their flights. It’s called a repatriation fee that you have to pay when you put in a permit the first time for someone. And Immigration makes some money off of that too, because I paid my employee’s fee 5 years ago, and then her permit was taken out by someone else last year because my child went off to school. The new employer had to pay the repatriation fee as well. So now Immigration has CI$400 to "repatriate" her if necessary. Scammers….

      • Anonymous says:

        And they have informed immigration that their employee has nothing to do and is out roaming, right?

        • Patricia X says:

          Not out all day roaming, rather staying at home terrified of being caught in the spiral of Caymanian gun crime.

      • Anonymous says:

        Hmmmm……. repatriation fee is only supposed to be charged once?? Is that correct? I thought additional repatriation fees were also included on each "permit renewal" for the same employee working at the same company. I think I may know of some company owners that may be eligible for some refunds…..

      • Anonymous says:

        Repatriation fees are only paid once on the employees Grant, not their renewal.  If they take employment up with a new employer Immigration will probably take another repatriation fee.  I believe the repatriation fee is 200.00.  No flight costs that little, but on the other hand, all the repatriation fees Immigration has collected are non refundable.  I would like to see now when you have an employee that has to go back to a country where the ticket costs over 1,500, how will Immigration take to that one.  They will try to call the employer and make them pay the ticket.  So, hence what was the repatriation fee really cover???

  8. Furthermore Andre says:

    Good move by the immigration.  When this is over, please begin picking up these people an send them home.

  9. NorthSideSue says:

    I find it amazing that in 2010 the CI government is not totally computerized.  Can anyone explain this to me?

    • Anonymous says:

      You must be new to the island.  This is the least of the government’s problems.

      • Anonymous says:

        So true, Anon 19:03. And the amount of time and labour (therefore dollars) Immigration spends on minor issues like this (compared to the MAJOR issues facing us) is just ridiculous. So what if a labourer hasn’r enough work to do for his work permit holder? Let him work for other people too, doing all these labouring jobs that Caymanians will NOT do. This stops people having to take out permits for gardeners, maintenance men etc and helps to reduce the number of permit holders. Right now, if a labourer has only three days’ work from his boss, he isn’t supposed to fill in these other two days with casual labour and if he does, the person employing him faces huge fines. But his boss still needs the three days’ work and the employee needs to eat and pay health insurance and pension, so what’s the big deal?

        Overstayers are a completely different issue and should not be lumped together with employees legally here and not having a full work load.

    • Anonymous says:

       Because it involvrs the use of computers.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Good idea, but what if these overstayers don’t have the funds to leave the island???  Isn’t there a repatriation fee that has to be paid to immigration that’s supposed to cover those that can’t afford to go home?  Let’s get rid of the overstayers.