CNMI: Improved Status For Long-Term Guest Workers Up For Discussion

Administration: ultimate goal of the 902 talks is for a final report to be given to the governor, the Legislature and President Obama who will then sign it before it goes to the U.S. Congress

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, August 31, 2016) – The administration reiterated its support for U.S. Congressman Gregorio Camacho Kilili Sablan’s legislation that will grant qualified long-time guest workers improved immigration status.

The administration said improved status is part of the position paper that the CNMI team proposed to its federal counterparts in the ongoing 902 talks.

Giving long-time workers whose children are U.S. citizens improved status is among the concerns that are up for discussion right now, the administration said.

Granting improved status is a way to properly transition the workforce in the CNMI, the administration added.

The administration said the ultimate goal of the 902 talks is for a final report to be given to the governor, the Legislature and President Obama who will then sign it before it goes to the U.S. Congress.

Copies of the report will also be provided to the public.

In an interview on Wednesday, Gov. Ralph Torres said they are working on an improved-status proposal “to make sure that they do the right thing.”

Though he said he could not provide details right now, he added that he is glad the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced a deferred-action policy for certain CWs affected by the cap.

“We are happy that there’s some relief although there is still a lot of things that need to be done. But at least it allows our workers to stay on island and go through the same process that everybody has to go through,” he said.

In 2008, the Republican White House proposed improved status for qualified guest workers in the CNMI, but the provision was deleted by the Democratic Congress when it passed the federalization law the same year.

Two years later, the Interior Department of the Obama administration urged the U.S. Congress to grant improved immigration status to long-term guest workers in the CNMI.

In 2011, Congressman Kilili introduced a bill that would grant CNMI-only status to CNMI permanent residents and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, but it was opposed by Iowa Republican Congressman Steven King, the vice chairman of the subcommittee on immigration.

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