Immigration Reform Advancing

March 28, 2013

President Obama said that immigration reform could pass by the end of the summer citing the work of the bipartisan Senate group that has been working on the bill.

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.

The CNMI Guest Worker Program is a good example of how a poorly thought out and ineffectively run program can cause harm to the workers, the employers and the economy.

Any guest worker program should provide a pathway to citizenship for those who remain a specific period of time, say three to five years.  Otherwise the program will lack humanity. Under a guest worker programs that lacks a future status provision, the workers are easily exploited by employers who consider them as disposal and replaceable labor units rather than as human beings deserving of rights.


Anonymous said...

CNMI is heading to a right direction to gain its reputation recognized worldwide again led by Mr. Inos administration. CNMI is a home for many Asian people who came here legally. CNMI long term alien workers should not considered or treated as undocumented alien workers in US mainland. A special immigration provision for CNMI legal long-term alien workers in must be considered in US immigration reform bill. Mr. Inos and Mr. Kilili will make it right as Governor mentions to have a standard immigration provision instead of a discriminatory one. Nobody should be scared to do a right thing. The RIGHT decision sooner you make, better for CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Wendy-- I love how you can get your hands on court documents. I'm dying to know more about the CNMI WIC program managers arrested on Thursday. WIC is one of the few programs that can serve non-US citizen participants, and it kills me that "alleged corruption" has been uncovered at the very top of the organization. Any chance you can post any of the court documents in this case?

Captain said...

This morning on CNN Asia and Aljazeera(via Satellite)basically just what you have stated was conveyed.
This bill was expected to be on the floor by next month (April)
One interesting thing that I caught though was that these people were looking at a 10-13 yr "pathway" to citizenship.
To me that is stupid.

I also can see that the Unions and Chambers are trying to sabotage this bill. This is due to the loss in membership by many unions and the desire by many companies to hire cheap labor while increasing profits. (much like the CNMI)

There has to be some kind of stipulation that ALL of these workers be paid the same wages as the rest of the US Cit. for the same jobs.
That is the present problem in the NMI as to why they want this CW status extended also, keep the wages down.
I personally do not want to see a CNMI only status for the present CW as this will still allow many employers to abuse many of these employees along with low wages.
If an employee can move on to another employer at will then and only then will things begin to change in the CNMI.
Although Guam is not as bad as the NMI in work mentality of the local residents, there is not enough competent workers available in both places.
Many employers would welcome CW from NMI that would be able to travel back and forth as job requires.
It may even open up the NMI to more investments from Guam based companies along with improving wages on both sides and "lighting a fire" under some people that at the moment have the attitude that they are too good to do certain jobs, both here and Guam.
Another thing also is that anyone can by land in Guam.(although expensive)

Captain said...

BTW this is just in. (excerpts)

WASHINGTON - Labor and business officials have reached an agreement on a visa program to bring in up to 200,000 foreign workers a year to do janitorial, hospitality, retail and construction work, the AFL-CIO said Saturday.

The agreement would create a new "W-Visa" for the low-skilled workers and a new Bureau of Immigration and Labor Market Research to make recommendations on changes to the number of visas the country gives out each year.

The compromise between officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO, the nation's largest labor union, clears one of the biggest hurdles facing legislators Ava Avendaño, the AFL-CIO's director of immigration and community action, said the two sides agreed that the foreign workers would be paid the higher of the prevailing industry wage, or the actual wages paid by the employer to other workers with similar experience and qualifications.

The W-Visa Program would start April 1, 2015, and grant 20,000 visas in the first year. That would increase to 35,000 available visas in the second year, 55,000 visas in the third year and 75,000 in the fourth, Avendaño said. After that, the program would grow, or shrink, based on recommendations of the newly created immigration bureau.

The deal ensures that small businesses have access to the workers, and limits the number of W-Visas that can be granted to constructions companies.Once granted a W-Visa, workers would be able to switch between U.S. employers - a possibility that does not exist under current law - and stay in the U.S. year-round. They would also be able to apply for legal permanent residence, or green cards, on their own. Current law requires employers to do that on their behalf.

Wendy Doromal said...

12:52 I am sorry. I could find no documents. I am assuming this would be in the US NMI District Court -nothing has been posted.

Wendy Doromal said...

Hi Captain. I saw that too!

Anonymous said...

When is Mr. Gregorio Kilili Sablan going to issue a press release regarding CNMI long term alien workers? How does he propose or consider these alien workers to be included in US immigration reform bill? It is time now to make a statement before a comprehensive immigration reform bill is introduced. Please remember these alien workers residing in CNMI legally so please do not consider or compare them as undocumented alien workers in US mainland. Please consider human dignity when anything is suggested. People are watching...

Anonymous said...

The US is working on a special visa to allow laborers to continue working in the United States? That's exactly the same thing we have now. There will be no special visa for accountants, hotel workers, etc.