Eliminate the Need to Extend the CNMI Guest Worker Program

February 21, 2014


Despite the push by Governor Inos and U.S. Delegate Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan to convince the U.S. Department of Labor to extend the flawed CNMI-Only Transitional Guest Worker Program for another 5 years, a decision on the extension may not be made until this summer. 

Under the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, U.S. P.L. 110-229, the CNMI is to be transitioned to the U.S. immigration system.  The transitional CNMI guest worker program is set to expire on December 31, 2014 unless the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor extends it.

The law states:
(5)(A) Not later than 180 days prior to the expiration of the transition period, or any extension thereof, the Secretary of Labor, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Interior, and the Governor of the Commonwealth, shall ascertain the current and anticipated labor needs of the Commonwealth and determine whether an extension of up to 5 years of the provisions of this subsection is necessary to ensure an adequate number of workers will be available for legitimate businesses in the Commonwealth. For the purpose of this subparagraph, a business shall not be considered legitimate if it engages directly or indirectly in prostitution, trafficking in minors, or any other activity that is illegal under Federal or local law. The determinations of whether a business is legitimate and to what extent, if any, it may require alien workers to supplement the resident workforce, shall be made by the Secretary of Homeland Security, in the Secretary's sole discretion. 
(B) If the Secretary of Labor determines that such an extension is necessary to ensure an adequate number of workers for legitimate businesses in the Commonwealth, the Secretary of Labor may, through notice published in the Federal Register, provide for an additional extension period of up to 5 years. 
(C) In making the determination of whether alien workers are necessary to ensure an adequate number of workers for legitimate businesses in the Commonwealth, and if so, the number of such workers that are necessary, the Secretary of Labor may consider, among other relevant factors-- 
(i) government, industry, or independent workforce studies reporting on the need, or lack thereof, for alien workers in the Commonwealth's businesses; 
(ii) the unemployment rate of United States citizen workers residing in the Commonwealth; 
(iii) the unemployment rate of aliens in the Commonwealth who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence; 
(iv) the number of unemployed alien workers in the Commonwealth; 
(v) any good faith efforts to locate, educate, train, or otherwise prepare United States citizen residents, lawful permanent residents, and unemployed alien workers already within the Commonwealth, to assume those jobs; 
(vi) any available evidence tending to show that United States citizen residents, lawful permanent residents, and unemployed alien workers already in the Commonwealth are not willing to accept jobs of the type offered; 
(vii) the extent to which admittance of alien workers will affect the compensation, benefits, and living standards of existing workers within those industries and other industries authorized to employ alien workers; and 
(viii) the prior use, if any, of alien workers to fill those industry jobs, and whether the industry requires alien workers to fill those jobs.
An extension of five years for the problematic guest worker program would be disastrous. If no immigration reform bill passes by June 2014, it would be wise for the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor to extend the program for only one year. Nothing in the law states it has to be renewed for five more hell-filled years.

Under any just guest worker program a pathway to citizenship is provided. There is no such provision in the CNMI guest worker program. In reality, the U.S. does not have a workable, just guest worker program, including the CNMI's transitional one.

The longterm nonresident workers, most of whom have lived and worked in the CNMI for 5 or more years, many for decades, would like to be granted permanent residency status, which would make an extension of the program unnecessary.

If the legal, longterm nonresident workers were to be granted the permanent residency status that they deserve, there would be no need to extend the transitional guest worker program. The CNMI would have the skilled workforce that it needs.

Governor Inos, Delegate Sablan, the Chamber of Commerce and business community want to see the program extended. Yet, they also have supported upgraded status for the legal nonresident workers. The only decent and ethical action is to push for permanent residency status, rather than to push for an extension of an expensive guest worker program that has caused uncertainty and insecurity for employees and employers.

The private sector is made up of over 90% nonresident workers who are disenfranchised and are routinely denied basic civil, human and political rights. They are grossly underpaid, and are often cheated by their employers. If everyone were to be truthful they would admit that the majority of the positions that nonresident workers have filled for decades are not 'temporary' at all. In fact, there are very few U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the CNMI willing to accept many of the low paying, labor intensive jobs that nonresidents fill. That is why they have been renewed annually year after year to fill those positions.

Even if every U.S. citizen who lives in the CNMI were to accept a position that is now filled by a nonresident worker, numerically, there are just not enough U.S. citizens living in the CNMI to fill every one. Furthermore, there are not enough U.S. citizens in the CNMI who have the skills needed to fill many of the positions. That is the reality.

The CNMI-only guest worker program is expensive and problematic for both employers and nonresident employees.  Costly fees, annual renewal applications and the length of time it takes to process applications and issue the CW permits create unnecessary hardships for all involved. Granting permanent residency to the legal, longterm nonresidents would virtually eliminate the need for the flawed program.

U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez should look at the entire picture. He should review the history of the CNMI and U.S. Guest worker programs. He should investigate the status and plight of the legal, longterm nonresident workers and their families who will be greatly impacted by his decision. He should recognize that the majority of the nonresident workers have lived in the CNMI for more than 5 years, many for decades, and in reality are not 'temporary' workers, but de facto citizens who are essential to the community and economy. He should study all of the numbers and weigh all of the issues and considerations outlined in P.L. 110-229. In the end, before making any decision on an extension, he should weigh the material and human costs to the U.S. and CNMI Governments, to the employers and to the employees.

Extending the program is merely extending the problems. Again, if a bill providing status for the legal, longterm nonresident workers is not passed by the end of July, then the Labor Secretary should renew the program for the least amount of time that is feasible, which is probably a year.

The only moral solution is to grant permanent residency status to the legal, longterm nonresident workers. That is where the focus should be.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I forgot at this moment what the visa requirements that is issued for a foreigner to be able to come to the US, without employment, but to be able look for a job.
What little I understand about this visa, is it essentially allowed 'highly skilled' workers to enter the US and find employment. (I may be wrong)
But if this is the case, this may be another venue to take care of much of the present problems on many.
This may not be a solution to all but it may be a solution to some that will take care of some of the pressure from these idiots in DC.

Anonymous said...

its an abuse/discrimination system by DHS as well cnmi/us congress.alien workers must ready to terror on this abuse system bafore forced leave.its enough but its all alien worker time to do so.lets businesses and island life shut down....how terrorism is started? this way innocent people become join terrorism activity because of too much abuse....its an USA government fault to save innocent human being....one side human right and one side full of human abuse by them system,,,what is the fault of cnmi contract workers?ask all local politicians how they play with them by them brain washed to give green card policy by involvement of news papers otherwise who live here longer for decades.obviously no one....why not stop transition and send back all workers...no to extension.....no to abuse/discrimination by employers.....CW is nonsense....stop it....GOD BLESS USA i dont want to terrorist against usa.....pls set me in... amen

Anonymous said...

Instead of asking for an extension of CW program in CNMI, CNMI Governor Mr. Eloy Inos, CNMI-Washington DC rep Mr. Gregorio Kilili Sablan, President of Saipan Chamber of Commerce Mr. Alex Sablan and CNMI business community may consider to request to feds to provide “Parole-in place or Permanent residency status to CNMI long-term alien workers who have been here for more than five years before federalization law PL-110-229”. This request will work faster than the request to extend CW faulty program. CW program run by USCIS where each CW worker can be considered to remain in fed’s prison. There is no other place in the United States of America where a legal foreign worker is placed under a detention system except CNMI. CW program placed each legal CW worker in some short of detention administered by USCIS, USDHS and is discriminatory. People deserve to have equal right either in CNMI or USA. It is the right time for CNMI government and private business organizations to send a unified request to feds to add a provision in PL-110-229 to have a stable workforce in CNMI by providing permanent residency status to all long-term CW workers before December 31, 2014. Make a wise decision for CW long-term workers-it is time now.

Anonymous said...

8:02, not an option as 1% would have the degree of skill or education required. The skilled in the CNMI are gone, long gone

End the transition period or it will never improve here and workers will stay in limbo

Anonymous said...

Americans Oppose Amnesty

Poll after poll proves that Americans overwhelmingly oppose amnesty for illegal aliens. A majority of Americans support tougher enforcement laws and border security.

60% of voters oppose the Obama Administration's executive amnesty to younger illegal aliens. [Breitbart News & Judicial Watch, November 2012].

52% of registered voters disapprove of President Obama's handling of immigration issues. This poll was taken a month after the Obama Administration issued executive amnesty for two years for illegal aliens who came as children. [Washington Post/ABC, July 2012].

60% of likely voters think when it comes to immigration reform, gaining control of the border is more important than legalizing the status of illegal aliens in the United States [Rasmussen, March 2012].

55% of Americans believe stopping the flow and deporting illegal aliens should be the main focus of how the U.S. government should deal with illegal aliens. Only 42% of Americans prefer the U.S. government creating an amnesty program for illegal aliens. [CNN/ORC, November 2011].

55% of Americans oppose or strongly oppose Congress passing a bill to give some illegal aliens living in the U.S. a path to legal status. [USA Today/Gallup, January 2011].

55% of Americans somewhat oppose or strongly oppose Congress to allow illegal aliens who have ajob to apply for legal, temporary-worker status. [NBC News/Wall Street Journal, November 2010]

Anonymous said...

Parole in place is not a status nor intended to be for the long term. It is going to be going away like the CW program. The transition period was to allow those foreigners who were eligible for a current legal status already found in the INA to apply for it and be granted it. Those ineligible for a status found in the INA were to use the transitional period to fulfill any contractual obligations, finalize their matters and exit the CNMI. That was the intent of the CNRA. I realize others hoped that additional steps would be taken because someone, somewhere along the line promised them there would be. Remember the U.S. Government made only one promise that matters, the CNRA public law 110-129, it is the law of the land. Don't be left holding the bag make a plan to go home to the country of citizenship or be prepared to find yourselves out of legal status and unlawfully present in the U.S. if you do there goes any chance at this mythical resident status that the U.S. Congress won't enact for years if at all, it is not to be cruel it just is what it is.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI has more local workers available if the CNMI visa is not extended. How many local workers would be willing to work part-time to supplement the workforce? Due to extra paperwork, private businesses and government agencies are reluctant to hire part-time workers. Also high school youth can work part time, and even full time in the summer. Working for WIA as interns doing nothing in the summer does not instill the same work ethic as working in a paid position for a private employer all year long. The remaining workforce that is needed for the tourist industry can easily be supplemented by existing federal temporary 9 month seasonal and J visas.

Anonymous said...

USA a supporting terrorism activity..shame on all catholic christian....too much nonsense
people/local catholic people..they dont follow religion..so shame on..amen

Anonymous said...

Apply for a Green Card. Pay the fees. Do the paperwork. It is said so often that many of the CW's have been here for many years. Why have they not applied for a Green Card like every other non U.S. Citizen throughout the world have to work and live in the U.S.???? Give me, Give me, Give me.

Anonymous said...

9:21, People working for the current minimum wage are unable to qualify for the income requirements for a "green card"
There are many locals that are married to foreigners and they cannot qualify to get their spouse a green card also.
Many times the wife is the only one working.
Others even when both are working cannot qualify depending on the number of dependents.
Some friends also could not get "cards" for their spouse as they were on SSA and was under the income level. Other had to take additional jobs for at least a year so they could qualify with their SSA combined.
It used to be poverty level was just under $18K for a single person. It went up according to dependents.
I do not know what is now.

Anonymous said...

its an open human dignity abuse/violation in CNMI by cnmi government as well as usa/uscis/congress genius people in D.C/ white house.what a shameful for each americans.look at U.N so shut on this issue on US soil...look at human right official and law makers how they quite..where is the freedom /human right on USA soil.what a game playing by local cnmi politicians to kick out long term workers who supported local gov. plus businesses.gov. inos what do u mean to take over all jobs from long term workers to local manpower.you need more years to do so ? are you a human?do you understand what is the life means? let me explain you all human got feelings.its about to happiness or sadness...do you think its an joke to stay on island for decades just for minimum rate started $ 2 to 5.55 an hour journey? its not at all.most of who foreigner stuck here on island for how many years they lost them life. do you know that?they lost them love once do you know that?its an joke to stay far from home for decades?obviously its not your fault but look in your past all politicians/governor how they play with workers by USA greencard dream by each day...this is the reason people stay here.most all foreigner abused by employer as well as local people...when CNMI had immigration most all local abused foreigners for not to pay only food provided..the cnmi labor/immigration was in local people and business people pocket.do you know that?full of violation/abuse by your island system.do u knew one guy set him self in your immigration office?how many people come here with USA dream for better life and how many of them die some became mental because of full of high profile drama..now as a human being its your job to understand another humans who really desire for..it is the real time to do so will never come..do your part governor for human being as a part of..all are on island is innocent workers...they have not such a degree/diploma skills but they can prove to be best human.beacuse they learned lesson from suffering...whe people suffer they bacome change...hope you too and your people...isalnd really need them local work force not enough at all your local work force can not replace them even how hard you try..lots of investor want to invest on island they need lots of workers even all together with local are not enough.if you fail to do so you will lost workers most are ready to go back with hopeless beacause they are been here for decades...they are waiting for decision if extended then your island will empty and you will lost all investor...now island is on your decision whether loose or build solid structure for all people here....humans are equal..may god bless usa/cnmi. amen

Anonymous said...

7:28 PM...Of course the fees are up and income levels must be met because US immigration strategy can't allow a work visa or family based visa for persons who would qualify for public aid.

1;02...the day you lined up and applied for a temp CW status you greatly reduced your chances of ever getting a green card. My advise is go back to school or train while you are still on US soil and get a H visa and earn your green card as there is nothing free in this world

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Apply for a Green Card. Pay the fees. Do the paperwork. It is said so often that many of the CW's have been here for many years. Why have they not applied for a Green Card like every other non U.S. Citizen throughout the world have to work and live in the U.S.???? Give me, Give me, Give me.

FYI Ms. or Mr. Anon:
We would be applying for the Green Card if it is already PERMISSIBLE. We would be more than happy to pay for the fees because we look at it as an investment. We need to pay some to earn some, as simple as that. NOTHING IS FREE! It seems that you are not well informed. If USCIS says, go ahead, all CW can now file for GC, then won't hesitate to do all the paper works or even hire lawyers to do it for us. Are you that ignorant?

And about that Give me Give me Give, are you referring it some locals? They want their food stamps and US aids but they don' want to pay federal taxes and be fully under the US Governance . Just asking!

Anonymous said...

There is rampant fraud in the CW-E2B program and U.S. Labor is finding out about it from USCIS. Combine this with all the China parole fraud, pregnant Chinese who are coming for "vacation" and the fed are seriously reconsidering the special programs they put in place for the CNMI. Better to just make it like everywhere else in the U.S. for immigration and in the end what happens will happen, all the dire predictions won't happen. The feds are getting tired of this.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that this CW status will be ended and the ones that are here and are working with a certain number of years behind them and can qualify will be given a permanent status.
It only makes sense as 6:51 and other have pointed out with the problems that was caused with this program and also the inability of the Feds to approve and get the paperwork out in a timely manner.

The NMI has for over 25 years been screwing around on actual training it's own people to be able to work in the private sector and will continue to do so if another extension is implemented.

The amount of workers are already here and are supposed to be employed to stay here while many have already moved on to better areas.

The problem may be that the amount of Foreign owned business that may leave at the end of the year due to the requirements.
If there is a mass exodus of foreign business then the NMI will be over run with unemployed workers.
Maybe the Fed will see fit to issue a permanent status to include Guam and allow these workers that have been her for so many years to apply for a GC.
The Military relocation will eventually be happening and Guam will need the workers.
Close the door to all other except for those that can come in under the existing work visa such as the "H" visa class that needed skills can be brought in.
This will also put everyone on an even playing field and will also eventually bring up production and wages.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your good opinion for a great cause on March 8, 2014 at 6:00 PM. Look at the view of the president of Saipan Chamber of commerce for CW faulty program. It is not too late for CNMI governor, CNMI-Washington DC Rep Gregorio Kilili Sablan & CNMI legislature to ask feds (USCIS, USDHS, USDOL, USDOI & USDOJ) for a solution for legal long-term non-immigrant workers in U.S COMMONWEALTH OF THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS.
There are few questions CNMI needs to evaluate before December 31, 2014.
1. If CW discriminatory program administered by USCIS, USDHC is not extended by USDOL, What may happen to CNMI?
2. What can CNMI expect from Feds in this situation? Mass deportation or improved immigration status for non-immigrant workers.
3. What is going to happen to the new investor for exclusive casino business ($2 billion dollars) in Saipan? Where will they get manpower to invest in CNMI? Is CNMI governor on daydreaming to sign Saipan casino bill to fund CNMI retirement group?
4. Do CNMI people like to have a unified U.S immigration program for CNMI & Guam? Is CNMI ready to assist USDOD for military build-up in Marianas?
5. A progress in the economy cannot be developed without a stable workforce. It applies to everywhere. A theory to replace a group of experienced foreign workers from CNMI by local workforce did not work for more than three decades. It is not working to work in the next 5 Years. A reality may be painful but is expected by all. God bless CNMI & USA.