On Waiting for Regulations

February 15, 2010

Foreign national workers and business owners are anxiously awaiting the final DHS regulations. So many question have been left unanswered. What authority does the CNMI Department of Labor have, if any, over the foreign national workers? The local departments in the states have authority over minimum wage and employment services only, but comments posted by Kaipat and Willens on the transition worker regulations indicate that they want the department to have power that is even in conflict with the intent of the CNRA.

Why is the CNMI Department of Labor still collecting fees for TWAs and other permits if a person was issued an umbrella permit? Can foreign students be given work permits? Why is DOL taking on immigration responsibilities such as issuing identification cards for foreigners, which is clearly an immigration role?

Guest workers with any questions should report to the Federal Ombudsman's Office. The office is currently assisting seven foreign nationals to sue DOL in superior court for refusing to give them TWAs to find employers. The workers were all given umbrella permits. The Saipan Tribune stated:
According to the petitions, the Labor orders were arbitrary, capricious, and violated their statutory, procedural and substantive due process rights.
Maya Kara, who reportedly worked with DOL "volunteer" Deanne Siemer to draft PL 15-108 and has been contracted by the DOL as a hearing officer, was also critical of the slowness of the DHS in issuing the final regulations on the transitional worker classifications. The Saipan Tribune quoted her:
Kara said it is “outrageous” and “unprecedented” that federal agencies such as U.S. Labor “have not done their homework,” given that the federalization law was signed in May 2008.
In March 2009, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano delayed the start of the transition to the CNRA from June 1, 2009 to November 28, 2010. The CNMI transitional worker classification regulations were issued in October 2009 and the comment period on the regulations ended January 8, 2010.

There are 21 pages of comments on the regulations.gov website. I emailed my comments directly to DHS rather than post them online, and I am sure that others did the same. It must take some time to thoroughly review and consider the comments, so realistically I wouldn't expect them to be issued until some time this month.

In commenting on the slow action on federalization issues, the Saipan Tribune reported that at least some of the business owners showed support for our drive for status for the foreign nationals:
David Sablan of Century Insurance said the federal government should not make the process complicated.

“Why don't just issue permanent residency to some 20,000 (alien workers), since we know that's the number we need. Why complicate the whole issue?” he said.

Another businessman said if the Guam Organic Act was made possible, then there's no reason the same cannot be done in the CNMI.
Where to Get Information
Guest workers should go to the Federal Ombudsman's Office for any questions on their status or permits: Contact Cris/Glen if Tagalog or Sri Lankin - 322-8034/8038 and Li/Ripon if Mandarin, Cantonese or Bangladeshi - 322-8033/8037

The USCIS released information on U.S. contact information:
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is reminding people that its official federal government Web site ends in “.gov”. You can check www.uscis.gov for immigration information.

USCIS provides information about immigration benefits in several ways:

-Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

-Visit our web site at www.uscis.gov and the special page at www.uscis.gov/cnmi

-Make an appointment at www.uscis.gov to visit the USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) at TSL Plaza on Saipan. Walk-ins will be seen after customers with appointments.

-Send an e-mail to uscis.saipan@dhs.gov

Forms: All USCIS immigration forms are available for free; go to www.uscis.gov/forms to download or call 1-800-375-5283 to have a form mailed to you.

InfoPass Appointments: InfoPass appointments are free and can be made at www.uscis.gov. Each person who needs to speak with an Immigration Services Officer should make a separate InfoPass appointment.

Case Status: To find out the status of a case filed with USCIS, go to www.uscis.gov. Select “After I File” and then “Check My Case Status”. Enter your receipt number, which has three letters followed by 10 numbers.

Parole or Advance Parole: Go to www.uscis.gov/cnmi and look under “CNMI Updates” on the right side to see how to apply for Parole or Advance Parole.

General Information: For general information, check www.uscis.gov or call 1-800-375-5283 to see if we can answer your questions over the phone. You can call USCIS toll-free for automated information and live assistance about immigration services and benefits. People can access information through a menu of automated options 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During regular business hours, customers who need more information or assistance can be transferred to a customer service representative. In the CNMI, live assistance is available Tuesday through Saturday, 6am to 11am local time.

Other Immigration-Related Information: More information on U.S. immigration-related and travel issues can be found at other federal government .GOV Web sites:

-U.S. Department of Homeland Security - www.dhs.gov

-U.S. Custom and Border Protection - www.cbp.gov

-U.S. Immigration and Customers Enforcement - www.ice.gov

-Transportation Security Administration - www.tsa.gov

-U.S. Department of Justice- http://www.justice.gov

-U.S. Department of State- www.travel.state.gov

Source: USCIS


the teacher said...

I strongly disagree that we need 20k workers here. The post textile CNMI doesn't have jobs for 10k in my opinion. We know that all the hotels together, and adding TH, Duty Free, and ITE comes to about 2k. I highly doubt that there are 18k more jobs available.

The CW and investor visa programs will sort the facts out and issue CNMI CW work permits accordingly.

Anonymous said...

The Teacher,

Who's going to build houses, buildings, roads, utilities and other infrastructures? The 2K you mentioned? Gee! you don't know how the economy turn?

Anonymous said...

550 non-resident workers work for the CNMI govt (29K avg. salary), 2400 in retail (9K avg. salary), 2600 in hotels (11K avg. salary), 2000 in construction (7K avg. salary).

source cnmi labor 2009 annual report.

the teacher said...

The number above adds to 6450 and I said some number between 2k and 20k, I did not say that we needed only 2k, noni 7:22...what a disingenuous spin you put.

But even at 6400, that is a far cry from 20k. The 6400 is slightly inflated due to the number of unemployed labors using construction as the contractor category, the number of retail workers working for illegal businesses and stores that will not qualify for any status as an investor, and the hotel number of 2600 has also been updated and is near 2k.

It will be tough for the administration to sell 550 making 29k when citizens are being laid off, have rolling Fridays off, or even in payless paydays. The majority of the 550 non-residents are teachers, the majority of whom have NOT passed the Praxis and are on a time clock for dismissal, extended to Jan. 2011.

Anonymous said...

The Teacher,
I did not see anything "between 2k to 20k" you said above. You are even doubt where the 18k working. How can you validate your figures and your opinion if you don't even have any references or made any study? That is more disingenuous spin! having a probability too low to inspire belief.

the teacher said...

Noni above...I said I doubt if there are jobs for 18k guest workers, that is based on living here and looking around, but no one knows specific figures. The CW program will figure that out in my opinion and we will all find out who has a legal employer, who is a legal business operators, who is guilty of immigration fraud and who is not.

Anonymous said...

Teacher, I hope you're not teaching math!

550 + 2400 + 2600 + 2000 = 7550, not 6450.

Hint: Add the 2400 + 2600 first.