(CMR) Deputy Premier Chris Saunders has described Cayman's current migrant situation as a crisis and has indicated that the cost to take care of undocumented migrants this year could amount to over CI$2.9 million.
With over 300 migrants arriving in the Cayman Islands up to October of this year, the Deputy Premier has pointed out that there are serious financial implications.
The cost of migrant maintenance and accommodation from January to the end of October 2022 was slightly over CI$1.6 million. Given the increasing numbers and the need for additional security measures, projected costs for just November and December will add CI$1.3 million to the tally, bringing the year-end estimated total to over CI$2.9 million.
Mr. Saunders noted that the 2022/2023 two-year budget allocated just CI$1.53 million for the management of refugees and a supplementary appropriation will be required to fund the increasing costs for the remainder of 2022 and into 2023.
The monthly cost per migrant is around CI$1,800, which is inclusive of food, shelter, medical care, and security. The average stay for migrants in the Cayman Islands is nine months, bringing the average total cost per migrant to CI$16,200 without considering costs for inter-island travel and transport back to Cuba.
Deputy Premier Saunders explained, “The magnitude of the financial burden is directly related to the length of time that a migrant remains in the Cayman Islands. The longer they remain here, the more it costs. It is imperative that we shorten the average length of stay as one way of limiting the negative impact on public funds.”
The government is seeking to address this with Amendments to the Customs and Border Control Act (2022 Revision) passed in Parliament on Monday, 12 December.