(CMR) A Colombian national who was stripped of his permanent residency status after being convicted in a cocaine smuggling case in 2019 could have his status reinstated after the Grand Court ruled that the Immigration Appeals Tribunal (IAT) reconsider the case.
Alan Lawrems Taylor Dominguez, who provided evidence in the drug case against customs officer David Lobo, had filed an appeal against the IAT's decision after it refused to reinstate his Employment and Residency Right Certificate following the revocation of the certificate by the Cayman Status and Permanent Status Board.
In a judgment released on 29 April, Justice Allistair Walters ruled that the IAT acted unreasonably as it failed to engage in any meaningful analysis of the difficulties Dominguez's wife and her children would have moving to Colombia with him or of his family ties in Cayman.
Justice Walters said the IAT erred in law by failing to apply the correct and complete legal principles to its assessment of Dominguez's rights to private and family life under section 9 of the Bill of Rights.
He said with the Tribunal applying incomplete and outdated legal principles to that assessment, “it did not do so in a meaningful, balanced way and acted unreasonably.”
According to the judgment, Dominguez got married to a Cuban with Caymanian status in 2013 and applied for RERC in 2014. A son, who is Caymanian, was born to the couple in 2016.
In March 2019, Dominguez was ordered to serve two sentences of four years in prison in relation to the offenses of conspiracy to import a controlled drug and of importing cocaine. The sentences were to run concurrently with time already served taken into consideration.
On 24 July 2019, the Board informed Dominguez it was considering revoking his RERC, providing him with the opportunity to provide his view. He offered a letter from his wife, his son's birth certificate and visitor's log from Her Majesty's Cayman Islands Prison Service, and a letter from his former employee.
However, on 29 October of that same year, he was informed that his RERC had been revoked.
He filed an appeal with the IAT in 2020 on the grounds that the Board failed to consider his rights, the rights of his wife and son, and that the board failed to provide full reasons on how it arrived at its decision.
While the Board's decision was found to be erroneous, the Tribunal, following a hearing, decided that the RERC not be reinstated.
According to the court document, the Tribunal said then that “as a non-Caymanian, the appellant abused the privileges afforded to him as the spouse of a Caymanian and is not now entitled to have those rights reinstated as a result of the hardships to be suffered by his family. It was also noted that the Appellant could arrange to visit his family in a safe country as his home country is deemed too unsafe to visit.”
However, there were no clear policies for the IAT to arrive at its decision.
Justice Walters said it was surprising that policies for the board and the IAT were not put in place despite previous cases which pointed to the need for these policies. Under current laws, the Board and the IAT have the power to regulate their own procedure.
“The absence of such policies and procedures does not, of itself, necessarily mean that decisions of the Board and IAT are unreasonable. However, their absence does, in my view, make decisions susceptible to criticism in that, without a clear framework establishing and setting out how these bodies approach their statutory role and particularly the exercise of statutory discretion, it is difficult to understand how decisions have been taken, on what basis, whether they are reasonable and proportionate and whether they are consistent,” he said.
The IAT was ordered to pay the Appellant's costs on the standard basis, to be taxed if not agreed.
Mr. Alastair David of HSM Chambers represented Dominguez.