Archive for October 3rd, 2011

UK to curb immigrants’ residency rights

| 03/10/2011 | 0 Comments

(Daily Mail): Tens of thousands of immigrants will be stripped of the right to settle in the UK permanently under Home Office proposals. Ministers are to crack down on a regime which allowed a record 241,000 foreigners to settle there last year – up from 51,000 when Labour came to power. They plan to abolish a rule that gives those from abroad the right to live in Britain permanently if they work there for five years. Breaking the link between permanent settlement and the right to work in the UK temporarily has long been demanded by groups campaigning for a policy of ‘balancedmigration’.

Under the policy, a new ‘hurdle’ will be introduced for immigrants who wish to remain here permanently, based on their ability to support themselves and their families, their qualifications and whether they are working in professions where there are shortages of trained Britons.

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Failed robbery gets teens 6yrs

| 03/10/2011 | 64 Comments

(CNS): Two teenagers who attempted to rob a liquor store and a member of the public in Grand Harbour in May of this year were handed down a six year prison sentence by Justice Williams on Monday. Jonathan Welcome (17) and Jordon Powell (18) had pleaded guilty to attempted robbery, possession of an unlicensed firearm and other related offences in connection with their failed hold up at Blackbeard’s and their failed attempts to rob a member of the public. The teens were caught by civilians after they tried to flee the scene empty handed but not before pointing an imitation shotgun at their intended victims. As the judge sentenced the young men, he said there was a strong public interest in sending a clear message that would deter others from this type of serious crime.

Justice Williams said the case was a clear indication of how young men were turning to armed crime and gratuitous acts of threatening violence. He said it was a particularly serious example of what was essentially an attempted daylight hold-up of a store which then progressed to an attempted robbery on a member of the public. The judge noted that while the weapon was found not to be functioning after the crime had occurred none of the victims of the incident knew that at the time.

He pointed out that people working in, or using stores should not have to look over their shoulder in case they may be robbed. The judge said the business community should not be expected to accept this type of violation of their livelihoods. He said it was important for other like-minded robbers to understand that if they are convicted the sentence would be such that it was not worth the risk.

Taking into account their young age and their guilty pleas the judge sentenced the two teens to six years for the most serious offences which was the attempted robbery and the possession of the imitation firearm along with other shorter sentences for the assault and the possession of the pepper spray which he ordered would all run concurrently.

The teens had originally been charged with attempted murder as Welcome was said to have pulled the trigger on the imitation shotgun once outside the store and during the struggle with the public. A ballistics report later revealed that the weapon was not capable of firing and the crown decided not to pursue the attempted murder charge.

The judge commended the bravery of the members of the public who had tackled the teenagers when they could not have known that the weapon was not capable of firing. He said that Welcome had pointed the shotgun in the face of Charles Ebanks who had bravely grabbed the barrel of the gun and struggled with the teen offender. He along with Edward Azan and Ray MacGuire had gone on to chase the would-be robbers, as well as disarmed and restrained them until the police arrived.

The judge said the public should hold the men who apprehended the teens in very high regard and commended their bravery. He said it would be wrong of him to encourage the public in general to put themselves in harm’s way when faced with such obvious dangers but he stated it could serve as an example and encourage people who witnessed a crime, at the very least, to come forward and assist the police.

During the sentencing hearing before the judge made his decision, the court heard that the two teens claimed to have been put up to the crime by another man who had driven them to the scene, given them the disguise to wear in the commission of the robbery, as well as the imitation firearm.

While, Welcome claimed that they had planned the details of the crime at Powell's house for several hours, Powell told an entirely different story stating that he had been forced into the offence when the man ordered him into the car and said he would kill him and his girlfriend if he didn't commit the robbery.

The court heard that Powell had not had the best start in life and had been faced with very poor parental role models. He had been brought up largely by his great-grandmother from when he was six years old until he was 15 when she died. The teen was said to have taken her loss very hard and with no other family support network he had turned instead to the young men in local gangs who became his only role models. From then on he was exposed to drugs, guns and crime the court heard, until he found himself in the position he was now in.

Welcome was described as coming from a more secure family environment but he was expelled from school at 15 when it appears he was also sucked into the gang culture. He admitted that while he had held down a job where he earned a small amount of money he was financing himself through criminal activity.

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Schools still in legal dispute

| 03/10/2011 | 17 Comments

(CNS): Government and the former general contractor on the high school projects are still fighting out their dispute in the local courts. Answering questions posed by the opposition leader about the current situation regarding the development of the Clifton Hunter and John Gray High schools, Rolston Anglin said that the ministry was actively defending the claims by Tom Jones International and was seeking security of costs before the matter went further. He also revealed that since the UDP came to office, government had spent $75 million on the construction of the schools and that the latest project management contract had been extended and had increased by around $1.7 million from the original value of just over $2.2 million to more than $3.9 million.

Anglin said this increase in the value of the project management contract with Cayman Construction Management Services Ltd was as a result of various delays and procurement of new subcontractors and delays to the planned July completion date for the Clifton Hunter campus, which has now been pushed back to next February.

“The construction manager’s contract relates to the completion of the Clifton Hunter project and the completion of buildings 1, 3, 4C and 6 at the John Gray project, with options for additional services should these be required,” Anglin told the Legislative Assembly on Friday. He also stated that the contract was designed to be flexible in light of the uncertainty caused by the termination of the former general contractor.

He explained that the dispute between government and TJI related not to a breach of contract but related to two pay certificates under the AIA contract and the claim by TJI that these are outstanding is ongoing. The minister said that no date had been set for the hearing but he expected the case would take place early next year.

“In addition, in September 2010, Tom Jones International issued a notice to arbitrate certain other claims under the contracts,” Anglin told the House. “The arbitration, which will be conducted privately and will also involve the hearing of various counterclaims by the government, has not yet been progressed by Tom Jones International but is welcomed by the government as a forum in which the claims held by both parties can be resolved fully and finally.”

The minister said he could not elaborate further on the dispute because it was sub judice and the answer he had given for the opposition leader had been guided by the legal department.

Concern that there would be nowhere to feed students at Clifton Hunter after the minister hadredesigned the school to remove what had previously been described as luxury “gold plated kitchens” was also addressed when he said there would be a production kitchen on site to cater for meals and snacks but children would be eating within their school houses.

He said home economics lessons would take place in the production kitchen, which would be in the Design and Technology building. Anglin added that the modifications had cost $200,000, but as government had saved $750,000 to remove the commercial kitchens from the projects, there was no extra cost incurred.

The commercial kitchens had been part of the original design in the schools, not only to provide modern facilities to teach home economics but because the school campuses are also designed to be hurricane shelters where significant numbers of people may need to be fed in the event of a major storm.

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South Sound cruise berthing

| 03/10/2011 | 37 Comments

Firstly, let me declare that I am directly affected by the cruise industry in Cayman.  I work for a water sports operator so I know first hand how the island is affected by us not having a proper berthing facility.  I used to work five days a week until the last year or so when the calls on Grand Cayman dropped significantly, clearly because of a lack of proper dockage. 

I now work 3 to 4 days per week depending on the volumes of people arriving to the island.  My employer made a decision not to lay off anyone but rather to give us reduced work per week so that we still had some income to meet our obligations.

With that in mind, I've had a lot of time to consider the re-emergence of the proposal to put the port in South Sound. I've listened to the talk shows, read the blogs and had a lot of time to contemplate. I've summarized all of my pros and cons below:

The tourist experience in Cayman is very much congested. As part of a training exercise we were taken to four ports, including Cayman. On arrival, the wait to get on the tenders took at least an hour or two off our time in Grand Cayman and many of the crew opted not to disembark because it wasn't worth the hassle. Having said that, once we did get ashore it was very much congested and chaotic. In comparison, when we disembarked in Roatan it was not congested at all, all of the buses were organized and there was no sense of confusion and I got a MUCH better impression in Roatan than Cayman.

This leads me to my second point. We seem to be pushing for the port to be in town, where we as a populace are used to it being located — not because it is the most logical place, but simply because it is where it has always been.  If we were to relocate the cruise port to South Sound, we would remove it from the heavy shipping traffic and industrial town, riddled with banks, lawyers and accounting firms, to a more laid back location, which is in the center of the island with quick links to George Town, SMB, North Sound and East End. We all know the Go East initiative could be revived by this, especially with a new beach club in Bodden Town on the old Englestad estate across from the Bodden Town Police Station.

If the captains are correct and this can be used year round and we don't lose any days due to inclement weather, the island will benefit greatly each year.  Surely the added revenue will again help to bridge any shortfalls in our budget. Additionally, we will be able to accommodate the new large vessels like the Oasis and Epic, which currently pass us by.

If the government was to acquire all of the swamp land by Old Crewe Road, this would be the perfect area for it to connect to all of our bypass roads. This would also give government the space it needs to accommodate large numbers of cruise visitors at one time and all of the accompanying taxis and buses. If the locals in South Sound are worried about traffic, it could completely bypass this roadway and be directed to the Linford Pierson and the South Sound Bypass that had been discussed years ago.

I understand from the talk shows that there will be a large quantity of fill extracted from the cruise basin. Could this not be used to complete the Eastern Arterial bypass and any other bypass roads that the islands need?  Even if the roads are not built at this time we could "rough" them in and at least pave the way for future generations and needs, but we may never have an opportunity like this again.

With a much nicer cruise experience, we will begin to get cruise passengers who return as stay over guests like we used to receive in the past when the town was not such a busy location. Additionally, if we move the port to South Sound we will take some of the traffic away from our main bread winner — Seven Mile Beach — and improve the experiences for the stayover guests as well.

Public Support: very few projects in Cayman get the public's support that this seems to be receiving. The Cayman sea captains are all on board and many otherwise "environmentalists" are also on board as they see the need the islands have for a proverbial "shot in the arm" for the cruise industry.

I implore Cayman to continue the national debate on this important matter. I've been having a hard time making ends meet but I'm glad to have the ability to have a job. However, it will be nice in the future when our arrivals do pick back up and I can again start saving to realize my dream of one day owning a home.

Proposed cruise berthing layout attached.

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10 year jobs still to be decided

| 03/10/2011 | 14 Comments

(CNS): Although the government has passed the new ten year permit into law, it has not yet defined the occupations and industries that will be granted the decade long work permit that will enable holders and their dependents to apply for PR if they choose to stay. The type of jobs and positions that will qualify for the ten year permit will be revealed in the regulations that will accompany the new amendments to the immigration law, which will be decided on by Cabinet. Presenting what the premier said were urgent amendments to the immigration bill on Friday, McKeeva Bush said the new ten year permit would offer security of tenure to senior managers and attract business to Cayman.

Bush said that it was the uncertainty created by the seven year term limit which drove existing business away from Cayman and preventing new companies interested in the jurisdiction from establishing a business presence.

“As a government, we cannot stand by and allow this to happen,” Bush said as he presented the concept of the decade long permit. The permit will be issued by the work permit and business staffing plan boards as well as the chief immigration officer for those employed in particular occupations and industries, though at this point those jobs remain a mystery.

“Those occupations and industries will be chosen based on the best economic interests of our islands and prescribed by the Governor-in-Cabinet by way of regulations under the immigration law,” Bush announced on Friday. It is assumed that the permit is aimed at the financial services sector but government has not said if employers of senior staff in other industries will be ruled out.

He explained that the permit would offer a much greater sense of security and allow employers to make business decisions with confidence, knowing that they will be able to retain their most important employees.

“The worker will be able to apply for permanent residence after reaching year eight without having first to go through the key employee designation process,” he added. “The purported unpredictability of this component of the rollover policy has been an oft-repeated criticism and is one that will be closely examined in the forthcoming review.”

The permit will allow the spouses of ten-year permit holders to be granted regular work permits until the expiry of the ten-year term or while working by operation of law, awaiting the outcome of a permanent residence application, and their dependent children will also be allowed to remain.

Bush said 10 year term limits would not be issued automatically but in every case employers will need to demonstrate compliance with the immigration law and show that every effort has been made to find and train a Caymanian for the post and that they have a genuine need to employ the worker and have proper training programmes in place for Caymanians.

“In return for the significant benefits that are now being offered to the industries and occupations that will shortly be designated, the benefiting companies and businesses should demonstrate their social responsibility by supporting long term human capital development in our Islands by contributing financially to a national training initiative,” Bush told his legislative colleagues adding that the amount that the firms in question contribute would be taken into account when considering applications for work permits for persons who enjoy a ten-year term limit.

The premier said he was confident that the 10-year permit and the removal of the key employee requirement for the most important industries would act as an incentive for businesses to relocate to Cayman and retain those already here.

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TLEP needed to pass rollover

| 03/10/2011 | 17 Comments

(CNS): The government has introduced a new permit that will allow people to stay in the Cayman Island past the seven year term limit known as rollover but it will not save them from having to leave the islands after a further two years. Changes to the immigration law were rushed through the Legislative Assembly on Friday without the 21 day consultation period because, the premier said, the law was needed urgently, otherwise the country could lose important business. The new Term Limited Exemption Permit (TLEP), which is now available, will allow all those on their last work permit whose employers are successful in making the application for the new permit to stay. However, the extra time will not count when it comes to permanent residency, government has said.

Although the permit will make holders lawfully resident and will lead to thousands of work permit holders passing the eight years, people will not be able to make a permanent residency application while holding a TLEP. The twelve month exemption permit can be renewed and anyone can apply for one, even those turned down for key employee or PR, but TLEP holders will not be able to stay in Cayman beyond the extra two years that the TLEP provides for.

Government’s aim is to prevent what could become a mass exodus over the coming year as more than 5,000 work permits are due to expire during the forthcoming 18 month period.

Although a TLEP can be renewed once during the two year suspension, workers that do not achieve key employee status will still have to leave after two years since the ‘key status’ element of the law has not yet been suspended. Government says the TLEP is a stop-gap solution to prevent the mass exodus while a new immigration review team comes up with a new policy that balances the issue of retaining workers and protecting the integrity of the Caymanian population.

Presenting the amendments, the premier told the Legislative Assembly that the rollover policy was causing more harm than good and the way that it currently operates is standing in the way of economic recovery.

“We are implementing measures that will allow workers who have very recently reached their term limit or who will reach their term limit in the future to remain employed in the Islands, either for their present employer or a new employer, for a further period of up to two years,” McKeeva Bush told legislators as he asked for their support.  “This will give us time to formulate a new policy that will serve to advance rather than hinder our economic recovery, whilst at the same time protect the long-term interests of Caymanians born in the islands.”

He said claims that government was creating another bottleneck of permanent residence applications were unwarranted. Once a worker has held a Term Limit Exemption Period for two years, Bush said, they would still be required to leave the Islands and they will not be allowed to hold a work permit for at least one year after they have left, unless they qualify to continue to reside under another provision of the immigration law, such as key.

Bush also warned that it was not a rubber stamp, and said that each TLEP application would be carefully reviewed to ensure employers had made every effort to find a Caymanian who can do the job.

“We are doing the right thing,” the premier claimed and said he expected scare tactics would be used against the policy, but if government didn’t do something to address the issue things would get far worse.

The government passed the amendments with the support of its own team. Ezzard Miller the independent member voiced his opposition to the move and his continued support of rollover but was absent for the vote. Meanwhile, while the leader of the opposition abstained from the vote because, he said, the decision to introduce another permit was simply pushing the problem down the road. He urged government to eliminate the policy altogether and allow each and every person who stays on the island for eight years to apply for permanent residency and use the PR stage as the place to decide who Cayman should invite to reside permanently and eventually go on to gain Caymanian status. 

Look out for more stories on CNS regarding the immigration debate in the LA this week.

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