Takes From the CNMI

February 16, 2012

Press Release From USCIS

Important Announcement from USCIS about Biometrics
for People in the CNMI with Pending Applications
If you are in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and have an application pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), please ignore any notice from USCIS that says you have a biometrics appointment in Honolulu.

If you receive such a notice from USCIS, it is the result of a computer error. You do not go to Hawaii for biometrics. Your biometrics appointment will be in Saipan, Rota or Tinian, depending upon your work location. Scheduled biometrics for Saipan residents take place at our office in TSL Plaza. USCIS will be coming to Rota and Tinian to capture biometrics there.

If you receive a notice for a biometrics appointment in Honolulu, please send USCIS an email at

For more information about immigration in the CNMI you may:

  •  Visit www.uscis.gov/cnmi or www.uscis.gov/cw.
  • Call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. This toll-free number has automated information and live assistance 24 hours a day, seven 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 from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. local time.
  • Email us at CNMI.CSC@uscis.dhs.gov.
  • Find the status of your case by using the “My Case Status” tool on www.uscis.gov.
  • Make an appointment at www.uscis.gov to visit the USCIS Application Support Center at TSL Plaza in Saipan. Walk-ins will be seen after people with appointments.


CNMI Delegate's New Bill
In a press release Delegate Sablan announced,  "I am introducing legislation that requires that on federally funded construction projects in my district, the Northern Mariana Islands, at least 60 percent of the workforce has to be U.S. workers."

The requirement would only apply to federally funded projects over $100,000 according to the press release. Of course, most are over $100,000.

Perhaps this would be a good concept if there were enough skilled U.S. workers in the CNMI to be hired for and successfully complete federally funded construction projects in the CNMI. But are there enough skilled US. citizen workers to fill this percentage? Are there enough U.S. citizen carpenters, masons, engineers, electricians, mechanics, plumbers and other skilled workers to make up a 60% requirement for all federally funded projects? Or would 30% to 50% of the workforce on a project be U.S. citizens managing the project and overseeing the remaining percentage of mostly foreign workers who would be charged with actually doing the majority of the work?

The press release stated:
“I know, too, that many of the local U.S. workers in the Marianas who want to work are being passed over for the jobs that do exist.

“We have something like 11,000 foreign workers today in the Northern Marianas. One has to ask: How can we have so many foreign workers when there are U.S. workers unemployed who want to work.

“Something is not right.
Yes, something is not right.  Probably part of what is not right is what the delegate failed to say in his remarks on the House floor. Are we to believe that he does not know how (or why) the CNMI has 11,000 workers? He does not know the history? He does not know that these foreign workers were legally recruited to fill jobs that the U.S. citizen lacked the skills for or the desire to fill?

He did not tell the members that the vast majority of the 11,000 foreign workers have resided legally in the CNMI for many years and decades. He did not say that the CNMI government renewed these foreign workers year after year after year ,while at the same time recruiting and bringing in more foreign workers. He did not reveal that corrupt CNMI government officials offered locals (U.S. citizens) jobs in the government in exchange for votes – jobs where they earned a big salary for doing nothing so that many never learned the skills needed to work in the private sector. He did not tell them that the CNMI minimum wage is so low that many U.S. citizens shun the private sector jobs and many have left for the mainland in search of jobs with decent salaries.  He did not tell them that the foreign workers have contributed years of hard work to build the CNMI economy. He did not say that they have families, many with children, and no opportunities in their homelands that they left so many years ago. He did not say that the CNMI  has become the home for the foreign workers -the de facto citizens.

Perhaps the money that USCIS recently released to the CNMI will be wisely spent to train U.S. citizens to gain the skills needed to fill the private sector jobs that foreign workers now hold. Maybe the money won't be misspent as has been the rule with other federal funds. Maybe there will be enough U.S. citizen workers to fill the 60% proposed quota for federally funded construction projects. Still, I do not see that happening in 2012 or anytime soon.


The Saipan Blogger said...

That money's not enough to train an entire population, especially for specialist jobs. If I hadn't been on scholarship, my degrees would have cost about $200,000 each....

Anonymous said...

Who cares what nationality a worker is to do a job? Can he do it good? Is he qualified? Does he show up on time everyday? Is he not on drugs? Does he have a criminal record? ( that would eliminate lots of US citizens on Saipan) Maybe Sablan should think about getting the most qualified workers for federal grant jobs.

Anonymous said...

It almost sounds like contract workers are blaming the CNMI Government for keeping them employed year after year after year. That won't work. The purpose of Federalization was to zero out the guest worker program so US Citizens can start filling those jobs. Bring in US Citizens from the mainland if you gave to fill skilled positions. The CNMI could even market itself as work tourism for US Citizens. Did you think that this transition would be easy? It will take time.

Wendy Doromal said...


No one is "blaming". I am stating facts. The fact is that the large amount of foreign workers was purposely brought to the CNMI by government officials to provide cheap labor. They were purposely renewed for the same reason.

What company would want to bid on a federally funded job in the CNMI if they had to recruit US workers? Who would want to pay for them to travel and live in the CNMI for the time period it would take to complete the job. What US citizen would want to go to the CNMI to work for crappy wages where there is no reliable health care, no reliable utilities, high incidences of unsolved serious crimes, routine wage theft, and corruption through the roof? Dream on...

Anonymous said...

The guest worker program created the "crappy wages" that you refer to. Third world workers willing to work for chump change. There are actually very few "qualified" skilled guest workers in the CNMI Wendy. Most US / Western electricians for example hold real credentials / certificates. Same with plumbers, etc. The CNMI will start to develop the needed skilled workers. I do blame the US Govt for the ridiculous rule on prevailing wages. It is absolutely stupid and whomever decided this should be brought up on charges.

Wendy Doromal said...

6:32 No, we deal with facts here. The guest worker program did NOT create the crappy wages. The CNMI "leaders" and elected officials did! They fought to keep the wages low. In fact, the corrupt officials spent $11 million to pay Abramoff to keep the wages low. (Bet the CNMI would love to have that money now.) The guest workers were brought in because "locals" would not work for crappy wages. Most "locals" only wanted high paying government jobs where they often did nothing, but got paid high wages. They routinely exchanged votes for these jobs. When the economy went south that scam ended. Now the "locals" want any job. Now the wages will rise. Check out the data and facts and see the ratio of locals in governments private sector jobs over the last three decades

Let all those college educated and skilled foreign workers leave and see what happens to the CNMI. Just put a closed sign on the place then.

Blame whomever you want to blame. Your blame game will not fix the mess that the corrupt CNMI officials created and perpetuate.

It's not your money! said...

It would be better for Delegate Sablan's bill to establish Davis-Bacon wages (perhaps at Hawaii levels, since Guam's are too low) and to require that contractors pay them, irrespective of nationality. If contractors have to pay prevailing (union) wages, they will hire the most qualified workers.

Anonymous said...

6:32 dream on! i can count in my fingers how many US/Westeners certified you mentioned in this island but I can't count how many foreign workers are. I've been in the const business for 20+ yrs and don't agree in your post. Most of these foreign workers are certified else they won't be allowed to work to those type of job because most Fed project requires a certification of a person before touching any serious items. I manage most of the biggest const projects here.

Anonymous said...

In Guam, the large Fed. construction Contracts are being done by the large off island Construction companies that landed the large military constriction contracts that were bid on them structured on Davis Bacon wages.
These are the regular companies that usually go after exclusive DOD contracts and move in to the areas for those contracts then leave upon completion.
They even brought in their key workers to accomplish these contracts.There are not enough local workers in Guam.

Kilili's bill specifically designates Fed contracts above $100k,(according to the article) although that is small. In the past,Using Hawaii as an example, when ever a company landed a contract or a subcontract on military instillation they were required to pay Davis Bacon wages for the particular workers for that project as it was above the prevailing local wages.
There were also background check required on all listed workers submitted for access badges.

In the NMI I personally cannot see this to be any benefit for any local worker as there are not presently any Fed contracts that would require any amount of workers.
There are also nothing in future plans, except maybe Tinian, years down the road.

Plus any contractor that would be awarded any possible future Military (DOD Fed)contract would have to be bonded by a legitimate bonding company and also there usually is a past history required of completed Govt. and other contracts and an inspection of equipment to insure that the contract would be completed.
In the NMI there are only two US owned contractors that have been here for years that could provide that.
These two have there main offices elsewhere.(There might be another that I am not aware of)
Many on Guam would be eligible and would bring most of their own people and equipment if awarded.

Simple fact that the local companies are not capable of handling DOD contracts as a primary contractor.
Look at the "affordable housing" that was recently completed, this was done by a large off island contractor with most of their own people, also even the cemetery in Marpi.
To "train" local employees it takes many years after basic classroom.
To go through a couple of week course and to be proficient to be able to work as what you have learned is not realistic.
It takes years of training and years of on the job training.
In the NMI the biggest problem is to get many to actually show up for work, and in the cases that they do, to get them to show up on time, stay at work and to actually do an assigned job in a timely fashion.

It's not your money! said...

Anon 10:15

Yes, it takes a long time to train locals to do trade jobs. We lost a whole generation of kids who might have been mechanics, heavy equipment operators, carpenters, plumbers and electricians. That's why anon 9:19 can count "in his fingers" how few tradesmen there are in Saipan. So what are we waiting for? Start training the next generation. Either that, or join the racist "locals don't show up and have no work ethic" brigade.

Anonymous said...

Federal immigration will zero out the guest workers and make room for US Citizens. Training will be required and organizations like the WIA and MTI are on the right track. I believe both are Federally funded.

Anonymous said...

why train them, they will not learn, have them motivate their selves and initiate else they will always be like this because they are thinking that their gov't will always give them job. If they will not change and if Kilili's bill will be a law, do you think businesses will respond favorably with them? i rather put my business somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately what will happen, as usual with our culture, NOTHING meaningful will be done in the way of training until all of the CW are gone.
Then after about 6month to a year after the fact, many may wake up and realize that there is no local talent left here. As most have either left or did not care to learn anything as they just expected to get co nothing Govt. jobs.
Without the private sector to support the enept Govt. this place will callapse sooner than later.
The private sector will also just hang on to cheap labor until they too realize there is nothing left and they cannot keep trying to make 500% profit of the backs of this cheap labor.
But I expect it will be many years after the departure of the CW before anything would change and their departure will further bring down whatever is left after Fitialization.
Similar to the departure of the garment industry even though there was many years advance notice.

Anonymous said...

this comments is based on FACTS and Observation..when CW thing came out and employers are required to prioritized US Citizens so our company drop the foreign worker who worked for few years in our company..a foreign worker whom you can trust, who work on time, never been late,never been absent and you can enturst any jobs which you would expect to be done on time... then here comes the Local Worker who replaced him...who came most of time 10 minutes late , first thing in the morning when he came to work, he will pick up the phone and do personal calls, take the company car do some personal errands while on duty and etc...my comment...Hope we can train attitudes not only Skills.

Anonymous said...

Noni 1:15pm Besides what you mentioned you forgot after they come in to work late (my experience is about 1 hour late, no show on Mondays and disappear on Friday afternoons)
They then feed their face and walk around with coffee in their hands for another hour chatting, them go to the rest room for another hour, then take a break before lunch for another 1/2 hour.
Take at least 1 1/2 -2 hour lunch.
Find places to hide after being assigned task to perform or "help" other performing their assigned tasks instead of doing their own tasks etc.
After a month they want a raie and a supervisory position.
After a few months, if that long, quit showing up at all.
Yes fact not fiction. Work ethics need to be instilled along with training.

Anonymous said...

we live now in saipan. we are now citizens of the u.s. and can be u.s. workers. no call me cw anymore.