BREAKING NEWS: US DOL Extends Faulty CNMI Guest Worker Program

May 28, 2014

Updated

As predicted, U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez extended the seriously flawed CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program for another 5 years. The program is extended until 2019.

While the bureaucrats, politicians and business owners applaud and celebrate the renewal of a program that provides cheap skilled nonresident workers, most of whom have lived and worked in the CNMI for decades, the nonresident workers can look forward to five more years of uncertainty and angst with year-to-year renewals and no stability for themselves and their families.

The moral solution to maintaining the CNMI's economic stability and ensuring a stable private sector workforce, would have been for the U.S. Congress to follow the 2010 U.S. Department of Interior recommendation and grant permanent residency status to all legal, long term nonresident workers who make up more than 90% of the private workforce.

Since the U.S. Congress has been, and continues to be, a divided and dysfunctional body that can accomplish nothing of significance, I suppose the U.S. DOL figured they had to act. But why a five year renewal? Why didn't the DOL extend the troublesome program for one year and push the U.S. Congress to amend U.S. P.L. 110-229 to include a pathway to citizenship for the legal nonresidents?

According to P.L. 110-229 this is the only time the program can be extended. After December 31, 2019 it ends unless the law is amended.

The program will continue with all of its flaws, including the conspicuous absence  of a pathway to citizenship for the legal, long term nonresident workers who have worked and lived in the CNMI for years and decades. Additionally, the problematic program restricts the nonresidents' travel, forces them to jump through bureaucratic hoops to take a vacation, and prohibits them from working while they are waiting for their CW renewal to be approved.

The CNMI-Only Transitional Guest Worker Program is costly to both the employers and the nonresident workers. However, the human cost is the most disturbing element of the defective program. Once again, U.S. officials and policy makers prove that they regard the CNMI's essential nonresidents as mere labor units.

The words of the CNMI elected officials prove that they regard the nonresidents as work units, not as people. When speaking about the extension politicians and leaders emphasized economic stability and security and disregarded the stability and security of the nonresidents.

Delegate Sablan's press release states:
“Five years may seem like a long time. But it will not be easy to whittle away the remaining 10,000 foreign employees in the Northern Marianas. Many have specialized skills and decades of experience in their fields and with their current employers. And with the economy growing the demand for labor will increase."
Wood is whittled, not people.  The words further dehumanize the nonresident workforce.

Read the entire Press Release from Delegate Gregorio Sablan:

WASHINGTON D.C. (Office of the CNMI Congressional Delegate) 
U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has extended the immigration transition period in the Northern Mariana Islands for another five years. The Secretary’s decision means the phase-out of the current foreign worker program in the islands will end in 2019 rather than this year. The phase-out has already cut the number of non-U.S. workers in the Northern Marianas from 22,417 in fiscal year 2011 at the start of the transition period to 10,017 in 2013.

Secretary Perez made the announcement in letters to Northern Marianas Governor Eloy S. Inos and Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan delivered today. Both officials have been actively lobbying for the five year extension, which is allowed by the 2008 law that brought the Northern Marianas into the federal immigration system. That law required the Secretary to make a decision on whether or not to extend by this July 4. The Governor and the Congressman, however, had urged for a decision as early as last year to minimize uncertainties for businesses and workers and to avoid stalling economic growth.
“I think that Secretary Perez has now made the correct decision and I thank him,” said Congressman Sablan.
“Obviously, this was not an easy decision for the Secretary. It took more time than I wanted.
“But now we have to look forward. We have to use this extra five years to build the economic recovery in our islands and redouble efforts to replace foreign workers with U.S. workers.”
Economic recovery and worker training were clearly on Perez’s mind, as well. In his letter, he justified the decision saying it would “enable CNMI’s legitimate businesses to meet their current and near-term future workforce needs.”
At the same time, he asked the Commonwealth to provide yearly updates, starting in April 2015, “documenting your good faith efforts to locate, educate, train, or otherwise prepare U.S. citizens and other lawful permanent residents for jobs.”
The Secretary’s request mirrors language contained in Congressman Sablan’s legislation, H.R. 2200, and its Senate counterpart, S. 1237. Both bills require the Commonwealth to be more accountable for the use of an annual $150 fee paid by employers for each non-U.S. transitional worker they hire. The funds are required to be used for training replacement U.S. workers.
In fiscal year 2013 the Commonwealth received $1.4 million in fees, which it distributed to local education institutions.
H.R. 2200 and S. 1237 call for the Commonwealth to provide a plan of use for these training funds before the fees are handed over by U.S. immigration authorities. The plan must include a projection of the how many U.S. workers will be employed as a result of the spending.
H.R. 2200 requires the General Accounting Office to report to Congress every two years with an assessment of the effectiveness of the training. But S. 1237, which has been amended by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and is currently on the agenda for approval by the full Senate, shifts responsibility for overseeing the use of the training funds to the Secretary of Labor.
“The Labor Department technical staff has already become very involved in analyzing workforce needs in the Northern Marianas in order to advise the Secretary on whether to extend the transition period,” Congressman Sablan said.
“It makes sense to build on that new expertise and get the Labor Department even more involved in tracking the transition to an all U.S. workforce over the next five years.
“I also want to see the Department actively engaged in assisting the Commonwealth, using the experience and resources that Labor has in the areas of vocational training,” the Congressman added.
“Five years may seem like a long time. But it will not be easy to whittle away the remaining 10,000 foreign employees in the Northern Marianas. Many have specialized skills and decades of experience in their fields and with their current employers. And with the economy growing the demand for labor will increase.
“The Commonwealth government, local businesses, and U.S. workers who are looking for jobs all have their work cut out for them in the five years ahead.”
The decision of the Secretary of Labor to extend the transition period is expected to be officially noticed in the Federal Register within the next few days.




Read Also:

Deadline on Extension Closer in Political Chess Game
Eliminate the Need to Extend the CNMI Guest Worker Program

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to train the ungrateful! I would rather pack up and leave and wait for my Canadian residency instead of wasting anymore of my time being used and abused!

Anonymous said...

5 more years of exploitation and abuse! Way to go (NOT) U.S.A.!

Anonymous said...

CNMI always gets what they want in CNMI way. Feds are blind. They failed and do not intend to review the reports prepared by DOI recommending an improved U.S immigration statuses for long-term non-immigrant workers in CNMI. CNMI receives U.S authorization to exploit foreign workers for another 5 years. It is a sad day for non-immigrant workers in CNMI. CNMI proves to have no sympathy, no appreciation to these foreign workers as Mr. Kilili mentions, “5 Years is enough to replace these foreign workers by U.S workers”. A foreign worker should not serve a community where he or she is not appreciated and is treated as replaceable ingredient. United States government must be ashamed for the situation of these foreign workers in CNMI. Shame on CNMI that became a part of United States of America!!!

Anonymous said...

The US does thinks foreign workers are sub-humans. 27 years for me of bein abused and treated slave way. Forget to pay all the time. More work for chance to be like them? No way.

Anonymous said...

Says NMI delegate “Five years may seem like a long time. But it will not be easy to whittle away the remaining 10,000 foreign employees in the Northern Marianas. Many have specialized skills and decades of experience in their fields and with their current employers. And with the economy growing the demand for labor will increase."
Whittle us away? Whittle the people who build the NMI. Maybe we strike or leave now and you see if your lazy foodstamp locals go to work. Get labor from US gvt. you don't know how to appreciate. When were gone and doors shut on business and hotels maybe you remember us.Then too late.

Anonymous said...

USED & ABUSED! 5 more years of dedication and hard labor to ungrateful employers whatever the owners' nationality is! CNMI is the only place where a LEGAL worker could be a multiple performer of various job assignments. Yeah not all companies but 85%, whew....but what can we do? NOTHING so we better stop whining.

Anonymous said...

You lobbied Federal Takeover. Now that you have it you still complain.

Berry Punny.....LOL

Anonymous said...

CNMI CW now is the time to UNITE. go home en masse! you are exploited and abused and will be used for another 5 years!

Anonymous said...

" US does thinks foreign workers are sub-humans. 27 years for me of bein abused and treated slave way. Forget to pay all the time."

10:42 If you really believe that, why would you want to be an American?

I can assure you without reservation that this will not end in 2019. 5.5 years from now HANMI and the SCOC will again circle their wagons with the CNMI governor and plead the exact same case.

1. Not enough labor to run the hotels
2. We need more time to train locals
3. We have no other solution for US children of former CGW's except an extension

Anonymous said...

it's a one more sad day for CNMI history . 5 yers extension cw itself kill the non resident workforce in cnmi, cause most workers will start to leave this place . Unless some of them earning good enough . But I believe in next 1-2 years CW worker will leave for good pasture in another place , cause the Economy not only growing in CNMI . It is growing up in most of the Asian Countries and as well as Australia ,Canada where we have more opportunity then CNMI .Adios by end of this year I will Out from CNMI and Start the life in Canada.

Wendy Doromal said...

1:00 anonymous

No one lobbied a federal takeover that had an immigration system that did not include a pathway to citizenship. No one. This program is a disgrace. Future generations will be reading about the ill treatment of the CNMI's foreign workers in their history books just like we read about the disgraces of slavery in our history books. To treat people as labor units is unacceptable, unAmerican and immoral.

Anonymous said...

2:17 I don't say I want to be American. I want good treatment and pay when I work.

Anonymous said...

In regards to 1:00
Wendy, if I may add to your comment about the "lobby for Federalization"

Pls correct me if I am wrong and add to it.
The Feds stepped in due to the many unresponsive warnings about the imported labor force outnumbering the local work force.
There actually was no "lobby" per se.
The Feds took over and many "lobbied" for status and to actually go with what was "recommended" on the initial study prior to the take over.
That was a "grandfather clause for those that were already inbedded for at least three years prior to the take over.
Fitial and others vehemently objected to this and also filed suit against the Feds. Using a questionable "private legal counsel" (Willens & wife)
I am in transit cannot continue. Hopefully this will work out, will post another on my observations.
BTW, it is more "readable" for me using the numbers on your "ROBOT" coding.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 7:22

Yes, you are correct. We had a grandfather status clause in the original bill, but Fitial and Guam indigenous rights (supremacist) groups persuaded Delegate Bordallo to have it removed. It was removed. I attended the markup hearing in 2007 to push that status be included in the bill. Nani and I presented petitions and hundreds of letters from guest workers and their children. Donna Christensen acknowledged the workers' message and my presence at the hearing. I was personally told by a member of Congress that status was removed to get the bill passed. I was also promised that the DOI recommendation would ensure status for the guest workers and other categories of nonresidents. What a lie that turned out to be! How many years later and absolutely no improved status or pathway to citizenship!?

It is amazing how the CNMI politicians can push status (usually an inferior type of status) in non-election years and push removal of all nonresident workers (who in actuality are de facto citizens) in election years. It is all a game to the politicians who care more about their own re-election than the well-being and rights of tens of thousands of people.

Anonymous said...

The politicians are stupid. They want US workers to replace foreign workers but want to pay them $5.55 an hour. It makes more sense for them to collect welfare and food stamps and not work at all. Sablan can push all the "training" programs for US workers but no fool will work for that much $$ when they can collect $$ without working. Plus they don't want to do the hard physical labor that the Filipinos do.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a lot of disatisfied CW workers, some maybe rightly so. I also hear a lot of you saying then lets just leave the CNMI enmasse! Well put up or shut up, reality is even when without a job almost all foreign nationals in the CNMI do not leave nor want to leave. They realize that jobless in the CNMI is better than jobless in Manila, Dhaka, Bejing, et al. Then they say bad America. Careful cause your true colors are emerging.....

Anonymous said...

Candian residency ? Canada's immigration system is very strict compared to the US. There are no "contract" workers in Montreal. Endless paperwork, changing laws...it takes years. Age requirments are the norm. Over 40? Forget it. You have to either be an MD, nurse or a very skilled certifed laborer. Canada is not the utopia immigrants make it out to be.

Anonymous said...

4:41 What person would want to live and work in a country for over 20 years and know that they are never going to feel secure in their future as long as they stay there? What person would want to stay in a place where people push laws to "whittle" them away until they are all gone? What country treats people like disposable entities rather than people and expects them to actually stay until they kick them out? Whose colors are emerging?

Anonymous said...

anonymous 8:08 I have 6 relatives in Canada happily working. all now citizens. None are "professionals' and all were granted citizenship.

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:08

Ow! You're true color emerges always. You're truly not American! Tear off your US passport, you don't deserve it. You're very uncivilized. You can travel with tea leaves in your hand!

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:08

We didn't say bad America!. We said bad CNMI!

Anonymous said...

Federalization: You asked for it; you got it!

Anonymous said...

CNMI is America, the law you complain about is the Federal Law. There is no CW visa in the states no CP parole, no parole for parents of minor USC kids. If you think you are treated wrongly in the CNMI there is no reason you have to stay, you are free to leave even have a CW. If you have no lawful status you are required by law to leave, the moment you don't you lose the authority to complain about others while you youselves violate the law.

Wendy Doromal said...

"CNMI is America, the law you complain about is the Federal Law. There is no CW visa in the states no CP parole, no parole for parents of minor USC kids. If you think you are treated wrongly in the CNMI there is no reason you have to stay, you are free to leave even have a CW. If you have no lawful status you are required by law to leave, the moment you don't you lose the authority to complain about others while you youselves violate the law."

You are right. The CNMI IS AMERICA! That is EXACTLY why the guest workers have the RIGHT to complain -to make things better -to make things right. That is the principle upon which our nation was founded. This idea that if you don't like it you can leave is anti-American!

One reason for not giving permanent residency outright status to LEGAL LONG TERM guest workers has been "that they might leave and we would not have our skilled workforce". So elected leaders pushed for an extension of a program that allows exploitation. They also came up with a plan to give them un-American CNMI status to KEEP them one step above slavery in the CNMI so they could remain the majority disenfranchised underclass. Whether it's a power trip or a way to CHEAT, EXPLOIT and/or ABUSE workers, people just love keeping their disenfranchised underclass. The CNMI is home to a real anti-democratic guest worker program that is oppressive and plain evil. You can tell people to leave if they don't like it or step up and fix the broken moral compass that is guiding the CNMI and improve the guest worker program and amend PL 110-229 to add a status provision. Any guest worker program lacking a pathway to citizenship is evil.

Anonymous said...

U ALL PUNNY, WHEN U COMPLAIN. SAME OL COMPLAINTS. NUTN NEW. U ALL WAN UR BIG CAKE INSTED OF A SLICE.

AMERICANS don't get the big cake, they settle for the slice. FOREIGN WORKERS want the big cake even if it means to throw up when BERRY PULL.

Settle for the slice, eventually u will get the biggest cake u eber seen.

Anonymous said...

10:07 Can you even try to spell? So not cute, funny or whatever you are attempting to be!

Anonymous said...

Wendy, off subject. Go to Guam pdn news and look at the article" Guam Medical Supplies left unused"

Also earlier the Phil. DSWD chief was dismissed due to the fact that score of AID containers were left for months undistributed and sit in Manila. It's contents spoiled or unusable.
This is only the tip of the gross incompetence.

Anonymous said...

NEXT THEY WILL REMOVE CNMI FROM IMMIGRATION REFORM BILL AND GUEST WORKER WILL GET NOTHING AND WILL CONTINUE MODIFIED SALAVERY SYSTEM FOREVER.EACH AND EVERY MOMMENT WHY U GUYS R BEGGING? BEGGER WILL NOT GET ANYTHING.