(CMR) A viral voice note being wildly circulated on social media is causing alarm among the local community because it stated that all Caymanians born after 1977 are now being required to prove they are Caymanians.
“all persons born in the Cayman Islands regardless of your parents decent must now be acknowledged as Caymanains by the Caymanian status board”.
The voice note mentions a deadline of obtaining the acknowledgment for “free” by month end and that government is waiving the $50 filing fee. It also states that's separate and apart from notary public fees.
The Cayman Islands Government will make an official statement in the morning on this. However, CMR has spoken with well position government and legal sources and feel confident in addressing this audio thus:
There are parts of the of the voice note that are accurate. However, there are parts that are wholly inaccurate and taken together it paints a picture that there is some legal requirement to now apply for said acknowledgement within a specified time period.
The law stipulates who can obtain a formal acknowledgement of their immigration status under the immigration law here.
CMR understands that several law firms have begun asking Caymanians – who have 2 Caymanian parents – for proof that they are Caymanians. In fact, one source indicates that Premier Alden McLaughlin's son was requested to get a letter from immigration confirming that he is indeed Caymanian.
There are the facts:
This is not a new requirement as the law as been in place since 1977
There is no mandatory requirement for this to be done and by any particular deadline
Some jobs or government agency may ask for it including for government scholarships, Needs Assessment Unit (NAU) etc.
A person who was born before 1977 had their status by “operation of law” and that position was then changed in law so that a birth certificate and passport are not sufficient to prove that a person has Caymanian status.
This was changed by the Caymanian Protection (Amendment) Law 1977
There is a filing fee of CI$50 and that has not been waived by anyone
A Notary Public may charge anything that they wish for their services and there is not set fee for this. However, any notary that states they would charge $235 is clearly overcharging for this. The average notary fee is around $25-50.
“Document not in the public domain” – part of this voice note is also inaccurate. We are not certain if the document they are referring to is the R21 form to be completed or something other document. However, all immigration documents are online and free to access via the immigration website.
Ironically the topic came up for discussion last Friday on Radio Cayman's For the Record with Orrett Connor and guest host North Side MLA Ezzard Miller. At the time, Miller said that he was of the opinion that it should be illegal for someone to have to prove they are Caymanian and instead it could simply be asked as a questions on any relevant application form. He explained it this way:
“Should a person then lie about their status it would be for the requesting body/company to prove this and have them charged for providing false information.”
Just lat month Premier McLaughlin was asked a question by East End MLA Arden McLean about the quandary that persons found themselves in having to prove their were Caymanian. He indicated that his government is preparing to address this very issue with the formation of the new human resource agency and immigration law overhaul.
“This one is very difficult,” he said, adding that he has been in wide discussions about this because locals cannot rely on their birth certificate or passport as proof.
“We have to try to devise a means of easily and simply being able to determine the status of a person,” “We can’t do away with the requirement, otherwise we are opening the door for people who are not entitled to work in Cayman without a permit doing so,”
he said, pointing to the current burdensome process to access the certificate from the chief immigration officer.
He suggested that a longer term solution for the generation to come was for newborns to have their status confirmed at the time of birth, so it could be noted on their birth certificate that they are not just born here but that they are actually born to a Caymanian parent and have status by right.
Acknowledging the difficulty of finding a solution he noted:
“There is no simple answer to this, otherwise it would have been sorted a long time ago,”
he said, as he explained that there are no records at immigration about local people who are Caymanian by right, which is why it presents such a problem if locals cannot produce not only their own birth certificates but also their parents’.
Other persons have stated that they are insulted that they would be requested to even prove such a thing.
“It's analogous to someone stating that despite you being Caymanian by birth and lineage you have to prove it because they simply do not give you any more worth that someone who obtained it via status grant, marriage etc. This has to be sorted out and it's long overdue. More and more we are becoming second class citizens in our own countries”
Ironically the topic of immigration for the region had caused Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May some bad press just today in the “Windrush Scandal”. She was initially refusing to meet with representatives of 12 Caribbean countries to discuss the immigration status of Windrush-generation Britons.
She claims that the first she learned of this was this morning, when she was alerted to the problem by a letter signed by 140 MPs from multiple parties – at which point, her office hastily announced that it would be scheduling such a meeting after all. Read more here.
The matter was hotly debated in the House of Commons early today with David Lammy giving a very heated debate contribution on the matter.