CNMI WARY OF FALLOUT FROM FOLEY SCANDAL IN D.C.

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By Gemma Q. Casas

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Oct. 5) - The scandal rocking the U.S. National Republican Party ahead of the Nov. 7 midterm elections may lead to a Democratic victory - and renewed efforts to federalize local immigration and minimum wage laws, according to CNMI officials.

Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said the administration is closely watching the political situation in the U.S.

"That’s a major issue right now because of the (Florida Rep. Mark) Foley issue. That might adversely affect the Republican’s chances - we don’t know. But there is a lot of speculation on TV by the pundits about how far that would affect the election if at all, we don’t really know," said Reyes.

The Fitial administration has better ties with the ruling GOP (Grand Old Party) than it does with the Democrats.

"At this point, we’re just standing by and watching the situation carefully and hoping for a positive development and hoping for a Congress that is friendly and sympathetic when it comes to the CNMI," said Reyes.

Finance Secretary Eloy Inos said the Democrats have a "different view" when it comes to issues related to the CNMI’s labor and immigration policies.

He said this is a concern but he remains hopeful that whatever changes may occur in Washington, D.C. will be beneficial for the CNMI and its people.

"I believe that the Democrats have a different view on how we should manage our affairs and that is to be expected. I really don’t know what will happen but should something happen as a result of change in leadership, I hope that it will be in the best interests of the residents and citizens of the CNMI," said Inos. "We can only hope for the best."

Sam McPhetres, the political science department chairman of Northern Marianas College, said it’s no secret that if the Democrats gain control of Congress, California Congressman George Miller’s bill to extend federal immigration and minimum wage laws to the island may be finally passed by the U.S. House of Representatives.

"If that happens, Miller could become one of the top leaders of the House which would result in the rapid enactment of his bill," said McPhetres.

He added, "Some say it would be good for the CNMI, while others say it’s going to be a disaster."

But, he added, the federalization of local immigration and the minimum wage is inevitable because it was the intent of the Covenant that the CNMI signed with the U.S. in 1976.

October 6, 2006

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