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Immigration Recognizes its Own

Published 1st February 8, 12:0am

When it comes to delivering service, Cayman’s Immigration Department is hard to beat. This was Chief Officer in the Portfolio of the Civil Service, Mr Peter Gough’s verdict voiced at the Immigration Service Awards (ISA) luncheon on Friday, 25 January.

A wealth of awards were presented at the well-attended Marriott Beach Resort venue, spread amongst 19 former immigration officers, three past Chief Immigration Officers, five Immigration Essay Competition winners, and 18 staff members who were nominated to receive the Governor’s FACE award.

Noting that its focus on customer service had indeed paid FACE Awards dividends, Mr. Gough disclosed that of the 139 nominees, Immigration’s 18 represented thirteen percent of the total. One of them, Ms Sharon Bodden-Welcome, had also walked away with one of the four most prestigious awards. “You represented the largest block of nominees from any single department,” noted Mr. Gough, “a remarkable achievement when we consider that your staff complement comprises just four percent of the civil service.” Chief Immigration Officer Franz Manderson added his congratulations to the nominees, observing that measures put in place to improve customer service were clearly paying off. He noted that it was important that employees felt valued and explained that this was precisely the rationale behind the day’s ISA luncheon. These awards, he said, were intended to recognize staffers, past and present, who contributed to the growth and development, both of the Immigration Department and of the country.

“The ISA presentations are a celebration of the department’s critical personnel, those without whom we would be unable to function, staffers who have contributed in no small measure to our growth and development and, by extension, to the security, stability and prosperity of the Cayman Islands,” he said.

Presentations were made to former Chief immigration Officers, Mr Gerry McGuire, Mr Orrett Connor, MBE, JP (currently Cabinet Secretary) and the late Mr John Bostock, MBE who was represented by his wife and son.

In hailing them, Mr Manderson explained that each had contributed something very unique to the department and to him personally: “Mr Bostock was the architect of some of our most enduring immigration laws and he taught me never to fear changing a decision if that is what is required,” he said.

Mr Manderson credited Mr McGuire with masterfully handling 1993’s Cuban Crisis when 1103 Cubans arrived in Cayman, and he lauded Mr Connor, the first Caymanian CIO, for envisioning a technology-driven department. He also thanked Mr Connor for instilling in him the knack to make tough decisions.

The function also recognized 19 retired immigration officer who were presented with plaques and gift bags for their years of dedicated service. Together with the past CIOs, they were hailed by keynote speaker, Chief Secretary, the Hon George McCarthy, MBE, JP who pointed to the solid foundation they had established and on which the current department continued to build.

Mr McCarthy also applauded Mr Manderson’s leadership and the staging of Immigration Week 2008: “Prior to this, people viewed the department as being largely a policing organisation, but people now see that you are so much more,” he said.

Deputy Chief Secretary, Mr Donovan Ebanks also paid tribute to the awardees, and added that in his opinion, the success of the staff owed much to the current leadership and its decision to emphasize customer service.

Programme chair, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Kerry Nixon enhanced the occasion by recalling earlier days, when the department functioned in the absence of advanced technology and modern communications facilities. To the obvious appreciation and entertainment of her attentive audience, she recounted personal stories that involved each retired officer.

The ISA luncheon also saw presentations being made to the winners of the recent Immigration Essay Competition.