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Immigration Crackdown Underway

Published 3rd September 10, 12:0am

The recent Immigration Department amnesty was used by 87 persons, who took advantage of the opportunity to leave the Cayman Islands during July without any repercussions. The amnesty has been followed by the implementation of an enforcement crackdown.

As of Thursday, 2 September, Immigration officers have arrested 45 persons for more than 50 offences since the amnesty ended. Additionally, fines amounting to $24,650 were collected from offenders and their employers.

Of this total, 17 persons were arrested for overstaying, with the longest period of overstay being 22 months. The others were arrested for illegal employment, working without a permit and for working outside the terms of their permit.

Other offences were making false representations, causing another person to overstay, having an altered passport and obstruction.

These offenders represented diverse nationalities: Jamaican, Honduran, Caymanian, Canadian, American, British, Pilipino, Indian, Dutch, and South African.

Commenting on the success of the July amnesty, Deputy Chief Immigration Officer for Enforcement Gary Wong said it focused on persons who were overstaying or working without valid permits. Overstayers were in the majority of those who departed - after residing illegally for periods up to 12 years.

Department officials report that the effort allowed 67 male and 20 female overstayers to depart without prosecution. By nationality, 50 were from Jamaica; 10 were from the United States; four, Canada; and three or fewer overstayers were from Honduras, Nicaragua, India, South Africa, Colombia, Cuba, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Guyana, Panama, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the United Kingdom.

Chief Immigration Officer Linda Evans commended all who contributed to the success of the amnesty, and thanked the public for its cooperation.

"However," she added, "since the amnesty ended, enforcement officers have been busy conducting operations to detect overstayers and illegal workers, and carrying out investigations into reports the department has received of suspected Immigration crime."

Because only one employer took the opportunity during the amnesty to cancel a work permit for a worker who was unemployed or underemployed, Mr. Wong reminded business owners and residents that officers are especially looking out for this type of offence.

He further reminds the public that The Immigration Department, together with other law enforcements agencies, will continue to actively pursue persons and employers who are committing immigration offences. Such persons will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and deportation will be recommended where appropriate.

The maximum penalty for overstaying is a fine of $20,000 and imprisonment of up to five years. The penalties for work permit offences range from CI$5,000 to $15,000, and imprisonment of up to one year.

Now, persons who are overstaying or committing other immigration offences may voluntarily contact the Immigration Enforcement Section, or they will be arrested when they attempt to depart.

(GIS)