14 illegal migrants land in Cayman over weekend, concerns raised | Loop Cayman Islands

The content originally appeared on: Cayman Compass

Based on reports over the past couple of weeks, the arrival of illegal migrants on Cayman’s shores appears to now be a common occurrence. Even this Friday and Saturday it happened, when 14 illegal migrants arrived on two different vessels.

According to the Cayman Islands Customs and Border Control Service (CBC), the first boat arrived in Cayman Brac at approximately 4:15pm on Friday, April 22, 2022 with six males and three females.

In the early hours of the morning on Saturday, April 23, another marine vessel with five male migrants arrived.

Given the number of illegal migrants that are arriving in Cayman over a short space of time, it is unclear whether a message is being sent by arriving illegal migrants to their compatriots that Cayman is a safe point to stop and continue their journey or that Cayman has a program to give illegal migrants safe refuge.

Whatever the case is, the CBC and the larger government should take note of the frequency of arrivals lately and consider carefully what resources are available to properly care for migrants and what policy will apply going forward (i.e., repatriation to their country of origin or provision of refugee status in Cayman or provision of citizenship in Cayman or provision of materials and support for an onward journey to another destination).

Close examination of possible implications is important because Caymanians have been experiencing challenging times since COVID-19, the cost of living is high and some Caymanians cannot support themselves financially. If an illegal migrant surge were to occur in Cayman, then the government may have to consider reallocating stipends or other support from struggling Caymanians to illegal migrants or refugees.

In addition to the financial resources aspect, Cayman authorities have no way of knowing the background of illegal migrants in order to establish whether there are concerns for Cayman in relation to their past activities (crime, being wanted persons, etc.)

In relation to national security issues, Cayman has a strong anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism framework in place to prevent and detect terrorist financing. This framework could be threatened if large amounts of unidentified persons continue to arrive on the islands, one or more of them is a part of a terrorist cell or network and Cayman authorities have challenges establishing these details.

Lastly, there is the issue of the spread of COVID-19 and health status of arriving illegal migrants. Regarding this, the CBC confirmed that, in connection with the recent boat arrivals, all migrants are being temporarily held in quarantine in accordance with COVID-19 protocols and will transported to Grand Cayman once all reception formalities have been completed.

In the next couple of days, it would be interesting to hear more from the CBC and the government as to where the money is coming from to house illegal migrants and what steps are being taken to resolve migrants’ circumstances on a case-by-case and humane basis. Perhaps, members of the public can provide assistance to migrants as well, but, the Cayman public first needs to know the policy, long-term plan and applicable protocols.