Deadline on Extension Closer in Political Chess Game

April 10, 2014

U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez has until July 4, 2014 to decide whether or not to renew the flawed CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program. He can extend it for up to five years. Hopefully, if he extends it at all it will be for a year.

CNMI Delegate Gregorio Sablan introduced  H.R. 4296, that would  extend the program by five full years. Five more years of uncertainty and disenfranchisement for the most deserving and loyal immigrants on U.S. soil.

Certainly, the more logical, humane and just move would be to amend the CNRA to provide an immediate obstacle-free pathway to citizenship to all of the CNMI's 12,000 or less legal, long-term nonresident workers.

Any guest worker program that lacks a pathway to citizenship is a program that reduces the workers to labor units. That is exactly what the CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program does. It sucks the humanity from those who fill 90% of the private sector jobs in the CNMI.

But this is political chess, not ethical chess. The Labor Secretary hears from fellow bureaucrats and politicians, and not the nonresidents who have built the CNMI and keep its economy advancing. He has not even visited the CNMI. It is unlikely that he would do the right thing. Hopefully, he will renew the program for a year at the most.

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