March 28, 2013
The Senate Gang of Eight stated that a bill may be ready the first week in April. Latino News reports:
"The legislation was initially promised in March, but the lawmakers have since said they won't be done until at least April. The Gang of Eight has run into a number of stumbling blocks including the future flow of immigration, limiting visas for families and a possible guest worker program."Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan has said that he is hopeful that the CNMI provision for status for certain categories of longterm nonresidents will be included in the bill. In fact, he has been working tirelessly to make that happen.
For the last few months I have been contacting officials and congressional offices through letters, faxes email and phone calls to educate them on the situation of the legal, longterm nonresidents and urge that they be included in comprehensive immigration reform to receive permanent residency. I sent letters to members of the members of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees; to the Senate Gang of Eight and the key House members who are authoring comprehensive immigration reform legislation; to my own Senators and House member; and other members who I have connections with to ask them to include the CNMI nonresidents in comprehensive immigration reform and to support Congressman Sablan's proposal.
Worker groups have been writing letters to Congressman Sablan, Governor Inos and the CNMI legislature requesting that they support permanent residency status for the legal, longterm foreign workers.
The Saipan Tribune reported yesterday that Governor Eloy Inos "supports the general idea of granting improved immigration status to long-term legal foreign workers in the CNMI." From the Tribune"
The governor confirmed that he and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) talked about Sablan's efforts to have a CNMI-specific provision in an immigration reform bill.
“We've talked about his efforts in trying to get a different provision and not the standard provision that is being sought by the administration over there. I think we'd like to bring that to a final resolution so that a lot of people affected know what to expect,” the governor said.
A bipartisan group in Congress and the Obama administration are looking at granting a pathway to citizenship to millions of undocumented aliens in the U.S. mainland. Worker groups and their supporters said the CNMI situation should be treated differently because most of the long-term foreign workers came to the CNMI legally and continue to contribute to the local economy 10 or more years since arriving here.New polls show that a majority of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens. What more for the legal nonresidents of the CNMI?
What is the delay with unveiling a bill? Growing arguments over a new guest worker program are dealying progress in the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill according to The Washington Post:
The dispute centers on rules governing the “future flow” of migrants who come to the United States for menial jobs. Republicans, citing business interests, want to give temporary work visas to up to 400,000 foreign workers a year at low wages. But unions and many Democrats, fearing the effect on U.S. workers, want fewer workers and higher pay under the program.
Senators involved insist that they remain on schedule to complete a bill, including a path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants, in early April. Obama also expressed confidence this week that the guest-worker disagreement could be solved.
“Unions say they want a guest-worker program, but their behavior is to the contrary,” said Geoff Burr, the Associated Builders and Contractors’ vice president for federal affairs. “They are insisting on a program that no employer would consider using.”The Washington Post reports that disagreements between the Republicans and business community represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Democrats and the major unions are primarily about the numbers of visas to be allowed and the pay scales. The Chamber is calling for 400,000 visas for low skilled guest workers with the ability to switch jobs once they arrive in the U.S. The business community wants the workers to be paid based on the government's prevailing wage calculations.
The union officials want 10,000 visas and insist that the guest workers be on a track to citizenship once they enter the U.S. Unions want a higher pay scale based on median wages for each industry.
Rep John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is a member of the House group that is working on a comprehensive immigration reform bill said the group is "close to a deal". From The Huffington Post:
He said the contentious issues in the House group were over how to deal with undocumented immigrants already in the country, guest workers, border security and stopping employers from hiring people unauthorized to work in the United States.