Marianas Variety

SAIPAN, CNMI (Dec. 4, 2009) – WHAT are the plans of the governor and the incoming Legislature now that federalization is upon us? Appeal the D.C. court’s ruling? But where will they get the funding? Considering that the judge pondered and studied the governor’s arguments for eight months only to dismiss them, is it realistic to expect that an appeal will produce a different result?

Tremendous changes will happen and are already happening whether we like them or not. The new and tighter immigration rules will further choke the life out of the remaining businesses in the CNMI and dampen any enthusiasm a prospective investor may have for the commonwealth. This government, the main employer of voters, will sink deeper in the red.

This is why it is imperative that the CNMI’s elected officials pull out their collective heads out of the sand and face the terrible tasks before them. They must stop wasting public funds. They must prioritize spending. They must protect key public services. And they must figure out, with the help of the business community and the general public, how the islands’ tourism-based economy can survive in this rapidly changing world.

Right now, there is no shortage of confusion about the new immigration rules, and many questions linger. Where, for example, does one apply for interim documentation? Who can apply for interim documents? An immigration court is being set up in Garapan, but what kinds of cases will it typically hear? Will it have jurisdiction over Micronesians and other FAS citizens? Does it favor deportation or detention? Where is the detention center? Russian and Chinese visitors are to be paroled in without need for a visa, but is this really the case?

The biggest question is what will the administration do to provide government services, already at their breaking point, and without a new stream of revenue to support them? How will he keep the new employees hired this year? How can he hire his new supporters? When will the new utility rates go into effect?

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