Willens Predicts Doom and Gloom for CNMI

September 1, 2008

The local papers have devoted quite a bit of space to stories about the proposed Fitial lawsuit against the federal government, and predictions on what the federal guest worker program will look like. The Saipan Tribune ran the story, FITIAL SPECIAL LEGAL COUNSEL SAYS: Only 2-7% of alien workers will get visas:
Willens said H-1 visas require advanced academic credentials, while H-2 visas are for “temporary” intermittent work.

He said the persons qualified for H-1 visas are accountants, computer programmers, engineers, architects, and teachers.

Qualified for H-2 visas, Willens said, are entertainers, construction project workers, trainers, and persons involved in limited time contracts.

The special legal counsel said currently there are 18,942 alien workers in the CNMI and that if 2 percent of the current on-island foreign workers qualify for visas, only 379 will be available.

He said if 7 percent qualify for visas, only 1,326 alien workers will be available.

Willens said the CNMI economy needs 30,000 workers to function at a level that produces a reasonable U.S.-equivalent standard of living.

He said CNMI, however, currently has only 11,000 U.S. citizen workers and 900 permanent resident workers.
Mr. Willens's power point presentation provides a clear argument for providing the long-term foreign contract workers green card status so that the CNMI will have the workforce that he and the Fitial administration fear will vanish when federalization goes into affect.

It was pointed out to me that no federal court has ever overturned or declared unconstitutional any exercise by Congress of its territorial clause power. That is a remarkable record lasting over 100 years. Could Mr. Willens give an example of a federal court overturning a federal statutory policy applicable in a territory? saipan tourism

Former Governor Froilan Tenorio, who first hired Jack Abramoff to fight federalization, went on record as being against the Willens lawsuit. The Marianas Variety reported:
“I don’t like what the feds have done, but the Covenant is clear — they can take over immigration,” former Gov. Froilan C. Tenorio said in an interview on Friday.
Willens's wife, Deanne Siemer, was working with Attorney Maya Kara and a group of guest workers earlier this year to explore CNMI long-term status for guest workers. They sponsored a series of forums which abruptly ended when President Bush signed PL 110-229. Rumors are circulating that Siemer will be reviving the forums and efforts to gain foreign contract workers' support to retain the local labor system as a ploy to lend credence to arguments in the proposed lawsuit, and to convince federal officials working on policy that there is no need for the federal government to change the local labor system or award status to long-term foreign contract workers. In essence, saying that a long-term, stable workforce is only essential when it is on the administration's terms, and under their conditions. saipan blog, saipan crime

Meanwhile, the Marianas Variety reports that Representative Edward Salas has resigned from the Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, which is chaired by Rep. Rosemond B. Santos, R-Saipan. He was the vice-chair of that committee which recommended shelving H.B. 16-86 which would have granted long-term foreign workers five-year work permits.


KAP said...

Howling about the effect of the new laws when he's the one broadcasting gloom and doom to investors?

Anonymous said...