Immigration chief seeks balance for all

| 15/10/2008

(CNS): Following a month of discussions with residents, Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson said Caymanians and non-Caymanians revealed major concerns; the most common raised by Caymanians was their desire to see more locals benefit from job opportunities, while work permit holders were worried about their exploitation by employers.

Manderson noted that his department, which will soon under the new law be making more immigration decisions, would be re-doubling efforts to implement policies that balance the rights of all key players in Cayman’s labour market. “Both Caymanians and non-Caymanians had major concerns which they shared with us as we went around the island,” he added. “Many locals told us that they felt marginalized in the workforce and want to see more job prospects open up for young qualified Caymanians.”  Manderson said that the Immigration Department is committed to ensuring that more qualified Caymanians benefit from the country’s prosperity and advance as key players in the job market.

He also noted however, that non-Caymanian workers have advised his team of some negative experiences, particularly involving their rights being violated by employers. “Some people said they have not been receiving promised benefits; others complained that—against immigration rules—they have had to pay for their own work permits, and still more spoke out about having to work in less than ideal physical and emotional conditions,” Manderson disclosed.

Given the complaints he said his department will step up efforts to protect the rights of those who come to work in the Islands, to ensure that they are able to function with dignity.

The Chief Immigraiton Officer also said he had heard complaints from employers as well who reported cases where workers had created hardship by failing to live up to their end of the bargain.  “A number of employers said that after paying requisite work permit and other fees on their behalf, some workers left after a short period, causing the employer to be out of pocket,” Manderson added saying it was a balancing act where everyone who  contributed to the economic success was protected.

 “We want everyone to be informedand we also want to work with our business community to ensure that they stay on the right side of the law,” he said.

The Immigration Department wrapped up its District Evening Series with the final meeting taking place in George Town on Tuesday, 30 September. “These meetings have given my team and me a better sense of the immigration issues on the minds of Caymanians, and have allowed staff to share information regarding our achievements and plans relative to departmental functions, border security and managing the Islands’ labour market,” Manderson said.

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