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By Cookie B. Micaller

SAIPAN, Northern Mariana Islands (March 17, 1998 - Saipan Tribune)---Key congressional adviser Manase Mansur said yesterday the Northern Marianas can keep its control over immigration in what appears to be a possible trade off for the strict enforcement of federal labor laws and safety standards.

Mansur, leading adviser of the House Committee on Resources, is on Saipan to get the input of local officials for the new legislation he is currently drafting to help the island government institute reforms on its labor and immigration policies.

Unlike pending bills in the U.S. Congress which are seeking to impose immigration controls and federal wage standards, the proposed measure will provide a leeway to CNMI to fix its problems on immigration, according to Mansur.

"We will have to give them a certain period of time to meet with certain requirements on immigration," Mansur said in an interview, but added he has yet to determine a realistic time frame and measure that would apply to the CNMI.

However, Mansur explained the proposal will include provisions that will give the attorney general of the United States the power to impose federal takeover should the Northern Marianas fail to meet the criteria.

Problems on labor, minimum wage and safety standards will be dealt with separately, he added.

The island government has been opposing Washington's federal takeover plan, vowing to implement reforms in immigration and labor policies after years of neglect on the concerns raised by the White House.

There are three pending proposals in the U.S. Congress seeking to take over CNMI's immigration and wage-setting powers because of the inability of the island government to reduce dependence on foreign workers, solve growing problems on labor and raise minimum wage to federal standards.

The proposal, which will be put forward by Rep. Don Young, committee chair, will be "absolutely" different from pending legislation because "it will continue to give the Northern Marianas the authority to run it," Mansur assured.

Young, who was supposed to hold a committee hearing on the island last February to discuss takeover plans, is coming up with a new proposal as he doubts that legislation pending in Congress will not effect the reforms the federal government wants implemented in the commonwealth.

The Committee on Resources may schedule an oversight hearing in June, according to Mansur.

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