CNMI Longterm Investors Appeal for Status

June 3, 2013

Some of the CNMI's longterm investors met to discuss their future and the fact that they were not included in the provision for status for legal longterm nonresidents. One long term investor wrote the following letter:

I am sending you this email to show my disappointment regarding the current CNMI provision on immigration bill. I would like to share with you my point of view and the following is my brief background history.

I am a long-term investor in the CNMI. I came to Saipan in 1988, almost 25 years now. I came as an investor. I have always viewed Saipan as my home. I have my own business and employ staff. I used to have a team of 10 workers in my company. Unfortunately, it has been downsized due to the poor economy. My husband and I are currently holding E2 CNMI investor visas. However, the proposed immigration bill does not address CNMI long-term investors. We are not allowed to maintain our business and stay in the CNMI after 2014. It would be frustrating if CNMI long-term investors are excluded as we are the people who create jobs on the island. I am an investor but I also work as a manager in my business. Besides, the requirement and process is far more complicated getting an E2c visa than getting a CW visa. For instance, investing a minimum amount of money in the CNMI for investment and maintaining the business. As a result, I am not satisfied with the immigration provision that long-term investors are not included. I believe CNMI investors deserve better and should be granted immediate U.S. citizenship instead.

I realized that there are approximately 500 E2c holders in the CNMI, a lot less compared to the number of CW holders, which are estimated at over 10,000. As far as I know, I understand that E2c status is intended to help as the CNMI transitions from the CNMI permit system to U.S. immigration laws or to give investors an opportunity to either qualify for U.S. investor status or to re-organize their businesses and relocate. According to USCIS, “Individuals in the CNMI with E-2 CNMI status must depart the CNMI at the end of the transition period or qualify for and obtain another nonimmigrant or immigrant status in order to lawfully remain in the CNMI.” I consider this statement to be unfair to those E2c holders that cannot obtain any other immigrant status under the U.S. immigration laws and are forced to leave when the transition finishes after 2014. My husband and I both came legally as investors to the CNMI in late 1980s; nearly three decades and we are not given a pathway to citizenship. It is inhumane and unjust when contributions made by the long-term investors have not been recognized and not granting us immediate citizenship.

I also object adding any extensions for transition period. Speaking on the business industry prospect, an additional five year will not change the devastating economy of the CNMI; it will deteriorate more. I believe that this is likely to have a further detrimental effect on our already ailing economy. To be honest, my business has faced the toughest time over the last five years in the transition period. My business could hardly survive because of the poor economy in the CNMI but I am positive about the future of Saipan. Therefore, I did not choose to close down my business and leave Saipan when federal immigration took place in 2009. I have been looking forward to any news or good policies that can revive the economy. Unfortunately, it seems like my E2c investor status has put my 25-year business in risk. I am uncertain what I should do and where to go, worried about leaving Saipan, the place I call home. It will be a nightmare for all long-term CNMI investors when the transition period ends in 2014. It is also difficult to maintain business when most of the legal foreign workers are hesitant about their residency status. A large number of foreign investors are in doubt to invest in the CNMI because of the difficulties and uncertainties we are facing. The only solution is giving out citizenships to qualified legal aliens and the public will have confidence to invest.

I am certain that long-term investors are assets to the community and the CNMI needs us. I wish the people in the CNMI can understand the tough situation which E2c investors are facing. I hope that Congress will take this into account when working on the immigration bill, as I believe “all men should be treated with justice” and for sure long-term investors are no exceptions.

Christine K. Lee
Garapan, Saipan


Anonymous said...

What Greed Cards For All said is right. All the aliens came to CNMI legally from 2004 should be given citizenship directly, and all the aliens came to CNMI legally five years should be given green cards directly. Because
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced that at 12:01 a.m. (CNMI local time/GMT +10.) tomorrow, Nov. 28, the immigration laws of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) will be replaced by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and other U.S. immigration laws. The definition of “United States” in the INA simultaneously will be amended to include the CNMI—providing new privileges and easing restrictions to CNMI residents wishing to live and work in the United States.

Anonymous said...

I strongly oppose three parts of a proposed legislation to affect the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands called HR 2200 or the Omnibus Territorial Act of 2013.
Section 4. Minimum Wage Adjustment in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Adjustment of the frequency of mandated increases.

US citizens in the CNMI strongly support regular increases to the depressed minimum wage and no amount of lobbying by the friends of Jack Abramoff will change that. Please do not amend the CNRA wage increases.

Section 5. Amendments to the Consolidated Natural Resources Act:
a) Extensions of the Commonwealth-Only Transitional Worker and
Investor (E2-CNMI) programs until 2019.

This is two completely separate issues masked together in one amendment.

1. Worker exploitation initiated federal legislation to address the CNMI’s failed and broken system of labor and immigration and what to do with guest workers. The local administration is an extension of shamed CNMI Governor Fitial’s regime and aims to retain a two tired status quo of servitude employing cheap foreign labor, causing high unemployment among citizens. The issue is complicated by the well-being of thousands of US citizen children (of workers) who have resided here their entire life. The only logical answer is to improve the status of legal workers here, which is consistent with the democratic principles of our nation and as such, the CNMI should follow the same path as the US mainland and other territories as Congress dictates on immigration matters.

2. Non-US investor visa holders operating in the CNMI has long been problematic. Alien “investors” cause all CNMI labor abuse, are the origin of all sexual exploitation, pay little in tax revenue, distribute all of the ice due to the Chinese visa waiver program, run the sex trade industry in Saipan, may be fugitives in their country of origin, do not follow or practice any US labor laws, and DO NOT EMPLOY US CITIZENS. Their status was debated in the newspapers for years until the brilliantly crafted language in the CNRA addressed this matter in the best interests of US citizens. We need the CNMI cleaned up; we need citizens employed; the CNMI must provide opportunity in small business for our youth, and extending the E2-C for seven more years would be a heart-breaking loss for citizens and goes against every intent of the CNRA as stated “assisting the Commonwealth in achieving a progressively higher standard of living for citizens of the Commonwealth through the provision of technical and other assistance”.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to get this letter posted to Mr. Kilili, U.S Congress, U.S Senate, U.S Department of Interior Secretary, U.S Department of Homeland Security Secretary, U.S Department of Labor Secretary and CNMI Governor & Congressmen and Senators to realize this situation and make changes possible as soon as possible for the better CNMI economy. CNMI investors must be given a chance to adjust to U.S immigration status instead of removing them. They are backbone of CNMI economy recovery.

Anonymous said...

"the requirement and process is far more complicated getting an E2c visa than getting a CW visa. For instance, investing a minimum amount of money in the CNMI for investment and maintaining the business"

And she failed to add "hire US citizens" to the requirements, the main reason for the policy

Anonymous said...

There are more problems happened in CNMI than other US territories. The radical problem is the human right which can be only solved by immigration status because all aliens come here under the US flag. Since Clinton administration tried to solve the problem in 1997, aliens’ status has been the same problem until now. If Congress or DHS can solve the status, every thing will become normal.