Federalization Bill S. 2739

March 16, 2008

As I posted last week, the new omnibus bill, S.2739, the “Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008” was introduced in the Senate March 10th by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). It is virtually the same as the previous Senate bill, but has been re-packaged as a new Omnibus bill. Both the Marianas Variety and the Saipan Tribune covered this story today.

The Tribune addresses the issue of status. After the bill is passed status will be decided within two years:

"Instead, the provision pertaining to CNMI immigration in the new omnibus bill requires the U.S. administration to submit to Congress within two years after S.2739's enactment a report with recommendations on how to grant the guest workers a more permanent status."

It is unlikely that the bill will go through any further revision in the mark-up session since the bill was not changed, but was repackaged. The bill is expected to be heard after the Easter recess which ends March 31st.

The CNMI guest worker program will be phased out by December 31, 2014 and will be replaced with a federal program. The extension of federal immigration law will take place one year after the bill is passed.