CNMI Governor Wants Immigration Answer From Washington

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Frustrated by lack of response from Labor, Inos to ask White House directly

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, May 27, 2014) – Governor Eloy S. Inos yesterday said he will ask the White House directly to extend the federal immigration transition period in the CNMI for five years.

In an interview yesterday, Inos told reporters he had not even received a letter from the U.S. Department of Labor acknowledging the receipt of his request.

Although he knows the deadline for U.S. Labor to decide is on July 4, he is hoping to hear directly about the extension from the Obama administration.

U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan in a separate interview reiterated that "what we are waiting for is the announcement of the decision that has been made."

Inos said since Sablan is on island, "I am going to meet with him and figure out an approach."

He added, "I am thinking of going directly to the White House. [T]here are cabinet members to go through, but I want to see if I can go through the inter-agency folks in the White House and see if we can get any help. I am not going to complain. I am just going to ask for assistance."

The transition period is scheduled to end on Dec. 31, 2014 and with it the CW permits of CNMI guest workers who comprise the bulk of the private sector’s workforce.

Inos said he will prepare a letter addressed to President Obama to follow up on his request to extend the transition period.

The governor said his letter will have to go through inter-agency federal officials but he hopes it will reach the president’s desk.

Right now, the governor said, CNMI businesses are in a "wait and see" mode, "and all they can do is hope for the best and prepare for the worse."

He added, "Everyone is affected: the employees, as well as the community. If businesses start shutting down, we are talking about reducing or eliminating public services to the community. So everyone would be affected."

Resorting to the available U.S. workers, including those from the Freely Associated States, would be the "fallback," but the governor said "it will take a lot of training."

Still, he said, "that [training] is something that we are doing now and will continue to do."

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