Managing refugees too costly, says premier

| 11/09/2014

(CNS): The Cayman Islands is struggling to keep pace with the resources necessary for dealing with illegal migrants and refugees, the premier told a regional audience Wednesday as he opened the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Caribbean Region Pre-Ministerial Meeting which is taking place on Grand Cayman this week. Despite the difficulties he still lauded Cayman as a progressive nation when it came to meeting its international human rights obligations to granting asylum. But Alden McLaughlin also described the challenges surrounding the numbers of Cubans arriving in Cayman when faced with budget constraints.

“As many of us in the Caribbean region have found, the cost of assisting and processing refugees has increased significantly each year,” the premier told the representatives gathered at the Westin. “As a Government, we have a duty to ensure that the legitimate needs of our own people are met; so we must strike a balance.”
McLaughlin said with Cayman Brac sitting just over 100 miles from the southern coast of Cuba and all three Islands in the path to Central America the per capita rate of illegal migration here exceeds that of most other countries, including the United States.

“The cost of receiving, processing, detaining and repatriating illegal migrants was over US$1 million in the 2013-14 financial year. The cost for providing assistance for asylum seekers and refugees also exceeded the projections during the 2013-14 financial year,” he warned.

Since Cayman entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Cuba no refugees from that country have been granted asylum here. But he stated that immigration staff were well trained to deal with the applications.

“The screening for migrants who have a valid claim for refugee status is a key role that the Immigration Department performs. Staff have been trained in international refugee law, leading to the revision of policies for the reception and processing of migrants,” he said.
But the premier noted that the Deputy Governor will lead a delegation to Cuba nest month with the aim of negotiating a new Memorandum of Understanding with the country that speeds up repatriation.

Speaking about the meeting and the follow up in Brazil later this year he said Cayman was keen to work with its regional neighbours on strategies and practices, “that can help prevent risky illegal migration from being attempted in the first instance and practical ways of dealing with the processing, custody and repatriation of illegal migrants,” he added.

“For those who seek refuge here fleeing from persecution in their own country, we have adequate and proper legislation that allows them to apply for asylum,” he said.

The meeting on mixed migration and protection of refugees and stateless persons, which is taking place at the Westin on Seven Mile Beach will help set the agenda for the December meeting in Brazil.

See the premier's full keynote address below

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Cubans rarely want to come to live in Cayman unless they are of Caymanian Descent.  Even then they would rather go to the United States.


    Hopefully Franz will be able to negotiate the Memorandum of Understanding (or get rid of it) then we can all help the Cubans who want to pass through the Cayman Islands instead of being sent back to Cuba.  We should not have to be paying to send them back to Cuba.  If this is what Castro wants, let him fork over the cash for it.


    Leave them alone.  Let those who wish to help them, help.

  2. Dreadlock Holmes says:

    A worldwide problem, as government leaders everywhere are discussing the issue that more people want to….leave their governments. Could it be that….governments are the issue?


  3. Anonymous says:

    give them a lil water & send them on their way! that’s what they want anyhow! wp

  4. Anonymous says:

    Managing Caymanian Premeirs is ten times as costly to the Caymanian people then all the Cuban refugees put together.

  5. Anonymous says:

    There is never enough money available to help people, but there is always plenty to waste on expensive restaurants, watches etc etc.

    Stop the BS . . . .

  6. Anonymous says:

    About as costly as the previous depurty premier's driver's hotel room?

    What a load of bollocks from these big spenders. no compassion. 

  7. Anonymous says:

    many caymanians have forgotten that their relatives had opportunities and good life in Cuba before cayman is what it is today


  8. Peter Milburn says:

    Surely the best thing to do is to give them help in the form of fuel food and water and allow them to move on if that is indeed the wishes of the Cuban Migrants.That will surely reduce the cost of us having to house and feed them before sending them back to Cuba.

    • Anonymous says:

      At least let them buy fuel and provisions. Even this is denied them.

    • Gut Check says:

      Completely agree.    I have been saying this for years.    Even if a person is so hard-hearted as to not care about the welfare of the Cubans, it is infinately cheaper to provide the passing boats with repairs, fuel, food and water that to arrest and repatriate them.   

      There are several residents who are and have been willing to provide those goods and services from their own pockets.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is one issue that should be front and center at the FCO. This problem is squarely within their area of responsibility. Unfortunately they are usually asleep at the wheel.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The cost of eonomic refugees from Cuba is inconsequential compared to those we are being crushed by from other places.

  11. Anonyanmous says:

    The Cuban migrants are a sensitive issue however it should not be so complex, to make it easier we should change our approach.  Allow Cubans to gain employment opportunities much easier than any other nationality.  After all many Caymanians went to work in there, Cubans are very educated and if they want to work we should let them and make it easier for them to live and work here.  I would like to see the work force of Cayman change and if half of the population would be from Cuba it would be a good thing because my grandparents went to Cuba and made a good living there.  Cuba and the Cuban people treated Caymanians well when they worked and lived there.  

    • Anonymous says:

      I believe you mean well, but your thinking is flawed. First of all they do not speak our language and they make no effort to  learn another language (English) look what they did to Miami!  2) if they were allowed to stay we would be swamped within a month, 31 days, they would come in their 10's of thousands.

      • Anonyanmous says:

         Yes I mean well and I don't believe my thinking is flawed.

        1. Many people in this country do not speak our language and I will not even engage you in that; one such person who took our english test and failed had the nerves to challenge us and yes, take us the government to court for our decision to refuse that individual a permit because they failed the english test (may I remind you that person was not CUBAN).  I have been to bars supermarket and other place of business right here in Cayman and their employees don't understand or speak english and again they are not from Cuba.
        2. Look what they did to Miami, exactly what did they do to Miami?  Thankfully I have been to Miami before they (the exodus began in the 1980s) and all that I can see in that they have done to Miami is populate the city and made it vibrant and alive something many Floridians could have done if they cared to because most if not all of the Cubans that went there during the Mariel Boat lift did so with just the suit of clothes on their backs often times no shoes and they went on to become wealthy and great business people in turn enriching the city of Miami.  Look at the now popular South Beach before the 1980s or even back in the early 1990s it is nothing of what it is today. Who should we credit for the transformation of South Beach? Let me tell you the Cuban community.  Take them out of Miami and Miami Beach and see what it would be like today.  Can we say the same about those in Cayman that don't speak English? 
        3. If we allow them to come they would swarmthe island in a month and they would come in their 10s of thousands.  We allowed them to come in the 1970s a boat load came in and a swarm did not follow they went on to work and became productive members of the Caymanian community and did not become dependants on the government, again they came in the 1990s and many left to go elsewhere and others stayed, do you know of any problems with the Cuban community here? Cubans are less problems to this society tham many other nationalities that swarmed in here since they arrived.  My grandparent went to Cuba like many other Caymanians back in the day and they were allowed to remain there and work until they left should we not return the favour now that we are in a position to do so? If I had my way there would only be about 25 nationalities that I would let into this island and Cubans would be one of those at the top of the list.
        • Anonymous says:

          Why are you so defensive.Are you a Cuban Nationality pretending to be Caymanian.We all need to stop this and think about CAYMANIANS for a change.I dont see any thing wrong with giving those people what they need and send them on they way cause that is only human and the right thing to do.But for sure we dont need any more than we can handle for an small Island.If you were to have it your way I would feel sorry for all of us caymanians.We wouldnt have any jobs for ourselves and young ones….wwere over crowded as it is.. Please stop

        • Anonymous says:

          Well, we don't need any more here now. It's people like you that helped to get Cayman in the mess it's in today.

      • Anonymous says:

        Well that is exactly what the Jamaicans and Filipinas did so why not add Cubans to the mix. Place moratoriums on the other nationalities and let in the Cubans. They dont eat our pets.