Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fool Me Once... (Cayman immigration)

“Feigned retreat” is a military tactic dating from the most ancient times, and practised to perfection by most armies in history. The most famous example to students of English history is that of the Norman invaders of England in 1066. By prior arrangement, the contingent of Breton troops allowed themselves to be “routed” by the defenders. The latter broke ranks in pursuit, only to be cut down by French knights on horses.

McKeeva’s proposed two-year suspension of the rollover program looks to be a feigned retreat. Release the pressure and pretend to give up the cause, then, when the enemy is relaxed and off-guard, send in the Immigration rottweilers to savage those who have fallen into the trap.

McKeeva is a very clever politician, at the village level, and it is always a mistake to underestimate his granny-wits. Unfortunately, politics at the village level requires no sense of vision. None of Cayman’s born-and-bred never-left-home politicians can envisage their Islands as a nation. A nation is defined, more or less, as a coalition of tribes; and the majority of tribal Caymanians are just not interested in a coalition with immigrants, much less with transient migrants – and least of all with low-paid coloured migrants.

Tribal Caymanians cleave to the sentiment towards outsiders reported in the Biblical legend of Joshua: Ye are cursed, and there shall be none of you freed from being bondmen, and hewers of wood and drawers of water... That passage is carved in gold and rubies above the entrance to the Immigration offices. Mere mortals can’t see it, but we know it’s there, and so do all the Immigration officers and officials. I wonder if they are required to recite it every morning before the doors are opened.

In Cayman’s tribal lore, non-Caymanians are Kipling’s “Sons of Martha”, a poem based on a tale from one of the Gospels. Martha and Mary were the two sisters of Lazarus the dead man. Martha did all the work of hospitality, and spoke with Jesus man to man, as it were. Mary spent his whole visit fawning over him. In Christianity, as in Judaism and Islam, blind worship has always trumped practical good works. It’s part of the “God’s Chosen People” theme.

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

In that context, how can we interpret the Rollover’s suspension as anything but a ruse? Give the Work Permit expats hope, encourage them to buy houses and new cars, wait until they’re settled, then tell them to bugger off home. If the UDP were (for whatever reason) reluctant to swindle the immigrants and migrants in this way, the PPM would gladly do the dirty deed.

It was the PPM who made the rollover retrospective, and who implemented the ethnic-cleansing of thousands of decent law-abiding immigrants who had made their homes here. Let’s remember that, when we talk about the alleged decline of quality of new arrivals. At the same time, let’s also remember that the Rollover law originated with a UDP Cabinet, and was introduced for the specific purpose of deporting long-term Jamaican and other residents. There’s really not much difference between the two anti-immigrant protectionist parties.

There are some sensible and practical ways for Caymanians’ elected representatives to repair relations with the immigrant communities, if they wanted, but suspending the rollover program isn’t one of them. We are not going to fall for that trick a second time. Fool me once...