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A question of citizenship: Jesse Arch grapples with status confusion

One man told Cayman 27 a simple health insurance application ended up turning his entire world upside down.

“Imagine everything being torn away from you, that’s how I feel. I feel like I’m not being acknowledged by the country my family were very involved in building into what it is today, that’s how I feel, I feel like my rights have been stripped from me,” said 31-year-old Jesse Arch.

Mr. Arch told Cayman 27 he went to Immigration for a proof of citizenship letter for his insurance paperwork. He said he was heartbroken to hear from Immigration officials that, despite having a Caymanian father and being born in Cayman, he himself, was not a Caymanian.

Mr. Arch said being told he is not Caymanian has hit him hard, and he said Immigration officials told him it all has to do with a law that first hit the books 40 years ago. He said Immigration officials told him that under the Caymanian Protection (Amendment) Law 1977, he did not receive Caymanian status because he was born out of wedlock.

“You just imagine everything you’ve always been told stripped from you, imagine if your parents weren’t your parents, imagine if your culture weren’t your culture,” said Mr. Arch.

Mr. Arch told Cayman 27  despite what Immigration officials have to say about his citizenship, his Caymanian roots run deep.

“All you have to do is to look at the back of a 25 cent piece and you’ll see a ship that my family built, my family are ingrained in Cayman’s history, and that’s not something you can take away,” said Mr. Arch.

He said he was heartbroken to learn from Immigration officials, that due to language in the Caymanian Protection Act, he was not Caymanian because he was born out of wedlock.

“I found myself being told that I’m not a citizen of this country due to an act that was put together, saying that anyone born after March of 1977 to unmarried parents, by default, take the citizenship of the mother,” said Mr. Arch.

He said without Caymanian status, he cannot work or earn money.

“I have lost a lot, that is all I’m saying. Mentally, emotionally, financially, time,” said Mr. Arch.

Mr. Arch said he applied for the right to be Caymanian about seven weeks ago.

Since his father has passed, he used his uncle’s DNA in order to prove his paternity. He said the law must be changed.

“Cayman is built on illegitimate children, so you can’t tell me that I’m not a citizen just because I’m an illegitimate child, or what some people would term a bastard child,” said Mr. Arch.

He said no one else should have to go through his painful ordeal.

“Birth doesn’t mean anything here, there’s no such thing as a born Caymanian, there’s no such thing. Birth doesn’t mean anything,” said Mr. Arch.

Now we are getting some brand new developments in Mr. Arch’s case to report.

Minutes before this newscast, Mr. Arch phoned Cayman 27 and said he had been contacted by Deputy Governor Franz Manderson about his citizenship issues.

Cayman 27 reached out to Mr. Manderson, who said he was getting all the facts before confirming if Mr. Arch was given misleading information from the Immigration department.

The Deputy Governor did confirm his intent to secure a letter of acknowledgement for Mr. Arch.

“Given his unique circumstance, we have asked Immigration to ensure his application is processed without further delay,” said Mr. Manderson in a text message.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to josephavary@hurleysmedia.ky

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