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By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April 17) – The Department of Labor’s original list of 1,001 names of individuals whom it says "do not have legal immigration status allowing employment in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island" now only contains 350 names.

Since January, 651 of the 1,001 individuals were able to prove to Labor that their names were erroneously included on the no-hire list, after providing the department with "adequate documentation" as to their legal employment in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

"Given that the Department of Labor or the government erred…there’s good reason to doubt whether the remaining 350 really belong on the list," said former Senate legal counsel Stephen C. Woodruff, who raised concerns on the issuance of the original list of 1,001 names.

Woodruff yesterday said the drastic drop in the number of names on the no-hire list justified his and many others’ concerns on the appropriateness of issuing the list without an adjudication process, and therefore may impede on individual rights.

"I’m glad that no one saw the need to file a formal complaint against Labor but Labor became conscious of peoples’ rights. But I still consider that Labor should have not issued the list," Woodruff said.

Rose Ada-Hocog, administrator of Labor’s administrative hearing office, yesterday said the remaining 350 are the ones considered without legal immigration status in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and whose names are therefore forwarded to the Division of Immigration.

"The others were already cleared. But Labor still encourages others whose names were not cleared to come forward and look for Jeffrey Camacho, the investigator assigned to this case," Ada told Variety in a telephone interview.

The list issued by Labor in January was based on computer-generated information compiled in sets from the Labor and Immigration Identification Data System, or LIIDS.

Labor gave seven reasons why the names of foreign workers with legal immigration and employment status in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were erroneously included on the list, including the failure of some employers to file the required documentation on time or failure to complete the filing correctly so the computer listing was based on old data.

Some persons, according to Labor, had married and changed their immigration status but had not yet reported and paid the necessary fee, and other persons on the list died.

Due to lack of funding, records from Rota and Tinian were not entered into the computer system directly so those data lagged the actual employment status of the persons listed.

"Some persons lost their passports and entered or left the commonwealth under a passport number different from the one in the commonwealth’s data set," said Labor.

It added that some persons’ employment status changed within a short time before the list was published and the final list had already been assembled.

"There were errors in failing to include some data in processing the list," Labor said.

Those nonresident workers who came to Labor to present their documentation were cleared on a same-day basis, usually within one hour, and on request were provided written documentation as to clearance.

"The Department of Labor has studied each of the causes for erroneous information in the system and, to the extent possible, has devised improvements to account for those causes so that this information in the future will be more reliable," according to Labor.

In issuing the list of individuals who were taken off the original no-hire list, Labor said no employer in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands should taken an adverse action with respect to those persons based on the published list, which specifically provided a time for corrections to be made.

Labor cleared 651 names of individuals mostly from the Philippines and China.

Marianas Variety

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