Guam Governor Predicts 'Economic Catastrophe' If Foreign Labor Issues Aren't Resolved

U.S. Immigration officials meet Calvo to discuss H-2B visa interpretations that are leading to near 100% rejection

HAGÅTÑA, Guam  (The Guam Daily Post, March 2, 2017) — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officials and their attorneys met with Guam Gov. Eddie Calvo Tuesday in Washington, D.C., to discuss the near 100 percent rejection of H-2B visa petitions for foreign labor in Guam.

At the meeting, USCIS acting Director Lori Scialabba asked Calvo to explain the situation Guam faces. She also asked USCIS staff and attorneys to explain the position they’d taken this past year and the reason behind it, according to a statement from the governor’s office.

Calvo said Guam’s labor force is limited and has historically been augmented with foreign workers, but the local government saw a reversal, from a near 100 percent approval rate to a near 100 rejection rate for Guam employers’ H-2B visa petitions.

“Because of this new interpretation of this policy, we’ve lost specialized healthcare providers at the new (Guam Regional Medical City). This limits their services, which means more people go to our public hospital, which is already busy helping a majority of our population —both locally and regionally,” the governor stated.

Calvo said Guam’s growing tourism industry, and push to build new industries, as well as the military buildup, is creating a great need for skilled workers in construction.

“We’ve been told that there’s no change to the labor policies. And yet we’re seeing a record number of rejections — without explanation or recourse for relief,” the governor stated. “Your new interpretation on H-2B policy could cause economic catastrophe in Guam.”

Guam has fewer than 300 foreign workers now, which is a huge decrease from the approximately 1,500 foreign workers the island typically has on H-2 visas.

Guam is at a point where construction projects have slowed and some companies are hesitant to take on new projects, according to the governor’s office.

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