July 2, 2012
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regional media manager Marie Therese Sebrechts said on Saturday that from Oct. 7 through June 26, the California Service Center had data entered 5,763 I-129CW petitions.Obviously the process is faulty. It appears not enough time and manpower has been dedicated to processing the CW applications. It does not even look like all of the petitions will be processed before employers have to submit new ones for the next year.
The petitions were filed by approximately 1,803 different employers on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota.
A total of 11,809 CW1 workers are sponsored on these petitions.
“A total of 2,530 petitions were approved consisting of 4,125 beneficiaries,” Sebrechts said.
The 4,125 with approved CW permits represent almost 35 percent of the total number of foreign workers petitioned.
Regardless of the program's flaws, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce is calling for an extension of the transition period of the program. They claim that the CNMI's economy depends on the foreign workers. So why then are they not appealing for the legal, long-term foreign workers to be granted permanent residency? Doing so would provide the CNMI with the needed workforce and be the right thing to do for the foreign workers who have served the CNMI for years and decades.
It appears that the Chamber and business community support a 5 year extension of the program because it would maintain the two-tiered society with the disenfranchised underclass that was established with the abusive CNMI guest worker program. The power is with the employers as the foreign worker remain voiceless, oppressed and denied of basic democratic rights. Considering that the foreign workers make up a vast majority of the private workforce this can only be considered undemocratic and unjust by any standards.
The U.S. Congress dropped the ball. They passed the CNRA after purging it of any status provision and then failed to provide the proper oversight of the program. It is not surprising that abuses and wage theft continue. It has been reported that the foreign workers are even more reluctant to report wage theft under the federal program since most are in unstable positions lacking permits and unsure of their future status.
The federal CNMI guest worker program was slow to start and can only be viewed as a work in progress that lacks the personnel and funding needed to make it workable at the most basic level. Lacking also is a provision for status and a pathway to citizenship. Any guest worker program that does not provide a pathway to citizenship invites abuses and injustice and lacks humanity.