Guam – CNMI Congressman Greg “Kilili” Sablan is taking a more favorable view than he did last year to the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal 2013 CW-1 permit allocation number.
The number of transitional workers who will be allowed is now down to 15,000.
Sablan says the number is an effort to “strike a balance” between the needs of the local CNMI economy, and the 2008 Federalization law’s requirement to reduce the number of permits to zero by the end of 2014 [unless the Secretary of Labor extends the transition period].
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Last year, Sablan blasted the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Service (which falls under Homeland Security) when it set the fiscal 2012 CW-1 permit level at just over 22,400.
In 2011 Sablan said: “The regulation further pays ‘lip-service’ to the idea of gradual reduction, by going from 22,417 the first year, to 22, 416 next year. I am just very disappointed. I am heartbroken, thinking of the people who want jobs, who want to be able to support their families.”
But this year, with the permit number set at 15,000, Sablan says: “It’s a good start. It’s a reduction of almost, of a third, one third, a 33% reduction of CW permits. And, so, it’s a good start. I want to eventually see that U.S. workers in the Northern Marianas, occupy all the jobs. That’s wishful thinking for now. So, for the present time, it’s a balancing act.”
CNMI employers filed petitions for just 12,000 Transitional Workers in FY ’12, just over half of the permits allowed last fiscal year.
So Sablan sees the latest number of 15,000 as a more realistic figure, one aimed at striking an economic and statutory balance, that will not harm the NMI economy, but allow U.S. workers to compete more fairly for jobs, and clear a path for an ultimate phase-out of CW-permits.
Eventually, Sablan says he’d like to see a “multi-year” approach, with a set of numbers, so employers can plan better.
Sablan says of the December 31, 2014 transition period end-date, “I really think it’s going to get extended. I don’t have any reason to believe that it won’t.”