January 1, 2015
|Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008|
The Tinian Dynasty has had its share of troubles. The casino and hotel is notorious for owing back taxes; for years the management failed to pay its employees on time; the company has had labor cases filed against it by the U.S. Department of Labor; and it has had several EEOC cases filed against it for unfair labor practices. It also faced several federal charges in 2013 for failing to file currency transaction reports. As if that wasn't enough, the Tinian Gaming Commission ripped off casino employees.
Such questionable practices surely do not reflect the standards that qualify a company to be considered a legitimate businesses in the eyes of USCIS. Perhaps that may be why over 500 CW petitions have been denied by the federal immigration agency.
Apparently Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd. (HKE), the owner of the Tinian Dynasty informed the foreign employees early in December 2014 that all the CW-1 petitions had been denied because of the pending criminal case. Confusion concerning an agreement to transfer ownership of the casino and hotel to Mega Stara, a CNMI corporation may have also led to the permit denials.
Tinian Dynasty employees Belal Hossain, Wenli Zhong, Pukar Patel and 500 Does (CW workers) are suing the USCIS; Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security; Leon Rodriguez, USCIS Director, and Kathy A. Baran, Director of the USCIS California Service Center.
The three defendants, Patel, Zhong and Hossain have all resided in the CNMI for over a decade – Patel for 11 years , Zhong for 15 years and Hossain for 18 years. They are taxpayers and law abiding de facto citizens.
I cannot access the complaint that was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands, but I will post it when it is available.
The Marianas Variety reports:
On Dec. 8, 2014, USCIS denied all HKEs CW-1 petitions. For employees seeking to renew their CW-1 status, USCIS denied each such petition on the principle grounds that Tinian Dynasty was not an ineligible employer because of the pending criminal case and each employee was ineligible, the complaint told the federal court.
USCIS considered them to be ineligible because, unlike transfer employees, its policy did not allow long-term or short-term employees seeking renewal to continue during the pendency of a timely filed petition if USCIS has not ruled on the employee’s petition prior to expiration of the date appearing on the employee’s I-94 card, the complaint said.
The USCIS position is that each employee seeking to renew employment with HKE had to stop work and “sit idly” by on Tinian from on or about Jan. 2014 until USCIS ruled on their petitions in Dec. 2014, according to the complaint.
In addition to being denied CW-1 status, USCIS stated that plaintiffs and the majority of HKEs foreign contract workers must leave the commonwealth immediately, the complaint said. None of the denials mention or discuss Mega Stars or the transfer of HKEs ownership, control and management to Mega Stars.
USCIS’ regulations do not allow plaintiffs or any other person seeking CW-1 status with HKE to appeal or otherwise be a party to an administrative appeal based on the denial of the CW-1 petitions submitted by HKE, the complaint said.
USCIS’ regulations do not allow plaintiffs or any other person seeking CW-1 status with HKE to stay the effective date of the denials and the obligation to “immediately” leave the CNMI, the complaint added.
Plaintiffs, each of them, do not have any adequate remedy at law against defendants for the irreparable harm defendants are inflicting on them except for the lawsuit for injunctive and declaratory relief, according to the complaint.If all of the Tinian Dynasty's 500 plus foreign workers were forced to leave Tinian, the economy would likely crash. There are not enough local people to replace the skilled and loyal foreign workers. The Tinian Dynasty would close and the CNMI Government would lose the tax revenue that the casino and hotel generate.
The Tinian Dynasty has had problems since it opened – problems paying taxes, problems paying workers, and problems complying with laws. The CNMI Government has coddled and made excuses for the Tinian Dynasty for years, whether by not enforcing CNMI labor laws to the detriment of the workers, or by forgiving millions of dollars in tax debts to the detriment of the economy.
How unfortunate that the innocent employees will be the ones to suffer and pay for the management's incompetence and unlawful acts.