July 2, 2014
In a speech before the Chamber of Commerce yesterday Chamber President Alex Sablan admitted that there are not enough U.S. citizens in the CNMI to replace the foreign workers. He is concerned that when the CW Program ends in 2019 there will not be enough workers. He appealed to Governor Inos and Delegate Sablan to ask the U.S. Congress to raise the cap of foreign workers from 14,000 to 16,000 and to establish a permanent guest worker program.
How very typical of a wealthy CNMI business owner to propose keeping de facto citizen population permanently disenfranchised rather than proposing immediate permanent residency status for every CNMI legal, long term foreign worker.
From The Saipan Tribune:
He said the CNMI already has a CW program that is CNRA-based and is specific to the Commonwealth so extending it in “perpetuity” rather than only until 2019 will meet the CNMI’s needs if it wants to continue to grow its economy.
“Is it going to be 14,000 or 16,000? I don’t think so but I believe there needs to be something,” he added.
Sablan, in his presentation before the Chamber membership, said there are over 17,000 foreign and U.S. workers in the private sector and some 4,200 in government. He said there won’t be enough U.S. workers to replace over 11,000 foreign workers and given the growing economy, more workers will be needed.
“Based on the numbers we project, based on hotel rooms coming online, airlines coming in, ancillary businesses, we are going to need an additional 5,000 employees,” he later said.
Sablan said the CNMI can bring in as much Micronesian workers as possible, which was what Guam did in the mid-’90s to fulfill its workforce needs.
But once we exhausted that, and bring those from the U.S. mainland, we still have to look for foreign workers. What the exact number is, I don’t know [but] that’s why we’re asking the governor to commission a report. Look at the dynamics, look at the projections,” he added.Alex Sablan stated that his plan "meets the CNMI's needs." What about the needs of loyal, dedicated and skilled foreign workers who have contributed to the CNMI for years and decades; those people who make up a majority of the CNMI's population? No thoughts or comments on their needs?
I suppose if one looks at the foreign workers as mere numbers, labor units or disposable commodities it is not necessary to consider their needs. That must be Alex Sablan's problem.
The intent of the CNRA was not to establish a permanent guest worker program, but a temporary one.
The U.S Congress does not need anymore proposals from self-serving CNMI 'leaders' or elected officials. What the U.S. Congress needs to do is to act upon the 2010 Department of the Interior recommendation as was mandated under the law.
That report stated:
"Consistent with the goals of comprehensive immigration reform, we recommend that the Congress consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum period of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States."