CNMI Only Worker Launches ‘Suitcase Campaign’ To Raise Awareness Of Guest Worker’s Plight

Award winning tourism promoter says issue is affecting everyone in Marianas

By Bryan Manabat 

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, June 16, 2016) – Elitza Stoilova started a “suitcase campaign” on Tuesday for the CW workers affected by the cap. She brings a suitcase everywhere with a sign that says, “I am a CW. Want me to stay?”

She hopes that everyone in the CNMI will realize that they will be affected by the CW cap one way or another even if they are not CWs.

“This is poisoning our soul —that is how we are affected by this,” said Stoilova, the general manager and sales and marketing director of Mango Resort. Originally from Bulgaria, she is a CW herself.

She does not like the idea of being a temporary worker.

“Other people ask us, what is your plan five years from now? We don’t have plans five years from now because we don’t know where we will be a year from now.

“Imagine waking every morning waiting for a letter from [U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services], only to get a 10-day notice to leave the CNMI due to the USCIS CW cap.”

Stoilova said it is hard to perform one’s job under these circumstances.

“It’s poisoning our minds, poisoning our souls, it’s poisoning the jobs we do, and the community all over — it’s affecting everybody,” she said.

Stoilova was instrumental in creating the Russian tourism market for the CNMI. For her outstanding work in promoting the islands in Russia as a tourist destination, she received the first ever Marianas Visitors Authority Tourism Industry Excellence Award in 2010.

She was the sales manager of the Pacific Islands Club for 12 years and was in charge of the Russian market. She then spent two years with Marianas Trekking as general manager before assuming the top post at Mango Resort in 2014. She currently chairs MVA’s ad hoc committee for the Russian market and has been a member of the Rotary Club of Saipan for 10 years.

Her husband, Oleg Tchernychenko, a Russian national, is affected by the CW cap and will have to leave the CNMI by Sept. 25, 2016. She has been on Saipan for 16 years while her husband has been here for 19 years.

“I will most likely be caught by the cap for 2017. So what do I do? Start packing? That is the reason for the suitcase campaign.

“If the local community wants to keep people like me, like my husband, and like everybody else with a CW permit, then I hope they can do something about it because everybody will be affected negatively.”

She added, “I’m now thinking about what I’m leaving behind. I think I made quite an impact on the local community and economy by being involved in community organizations and the work that I do.”

Stoilova is hoping that USCIS will provide administrative relief for the 1,300 CWs affected by the cap.

“We could do much more for the community if our immigration status can be adjusted into something more permanent,” she added.

She is also hoping that other affected CWs will seek the help of the CNMI and U.S. governments.

“We’re not breaking any laws. We’re just asking the authorities to allow us to stay and continue working for the community.”

Marianas Variety
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