CNMI Governor Urges Philippines To Discuss Immigration With U.S.

admin's picture

Inos fears the worst if transition period not extended

By Junhan B. Todiño

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 15, 2014 ) – Governor Eloy S. Inos discussed with visiting Philippine consulate and Filipino community leaders yesterday the end of the federal commonwealth-only worker program on Dec. 31, 2014.

"This thing scares me," he said, referring to the "worst case scenario" if the U.S. Department of Labor fails to extend the transition period which is allowed by the federalization law.

The governor said U.S. Labor’s silence is already affecting the CNMI.

Inos told Consul to Guam Mark Francis C. Hamoy that the Philippine government should also initiate a dialogue with the U.S. government regarding the issue.

Hamoy paid the governor a courtesy visit at the administration building. The consul was with United Filipino Organization president Annamae Adaza, honorary consul nominee Eli Arago of Tan Holdings, UFO secretary and Bayani president Mario Mayuga and the governor’s special assistant for projects Daniel Buniag.

Inos said he again sent a letter to U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez requesting a five-year phaseout of the CW program because "we don’t want to be caught with our pants down."

The governor said U.S. Labor’s delay in announcing its decision is not only affecting CW permit holders but also businesses that are relying on the workers and the local community itself that relies on these businesses.

"It’s chaotic," he said. Legitimate guest workers, including those who have been here for many years now, should not be placed in a position in which they will be "hunted" as "illegals."

Hamoy told the governor they have no official information on the number of Filipino workers in the CNMI.

The current estimate, he added, is 7,000 to 8,000.

When the local economy was still booming in the mid- to late-1990s, there were over 30,000 guest workers, more than half of whom were Filipinos.

Inos said his administration has formed a task force that is trying to create a local labor force to replace the positions to be vacated by guest workers.

"I’m actually getting worried," he added, as he noted that a Saipan casino investor is proposing the construction of a 2,000-room hotel.

"I tell you no matter what we will need workers whether U.S. eligible workers or non-resident workers so I’ve ask the folks [in the private sector] to start looking at the possibility of applying for H-visas," which are more expensive, involve a lengthier processing period and are subject to U.S. approval.

Right now, he added, CNMI businesses should be aware that there are lots of risks involved in hiring new guest workers and they must wait for U.S. Labor’s decision regarding an extension of the transition period.

Rate this article: 
Average: 2.3 (3 votes)

Add new comment