Gov. Eloy S. Inos is recommending a new CW permit cap of “12,000-plus” for 2015, press secretary Angel Demapan said yesterday. The law requires an annual reduction in the CW cap until it is zeroed out by the end of the transition period, now in 2019. The 2014 cap is 14,000.
Demapan said the administration will release the exact requested cap later.
He said this was discussed during the governor’s recent meeting with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Honolulu district director David Gullick.
While the current cap is at 14,000, only about 12,000 CW permits have been granted, but businesses want an accommodation of an expanding economy’s labor needs. Tourism has been picking up, and major hotel construction projects are lined up.
Alex Sablan, Saipan Chamber of Commerce president, said yesterday that the business group recommended to both the governor and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) “to study the matter in-depth based on the casino and proposed new hotel [developments].”
“Just for Saipan, I am estimating we will require 16,000. It is my understanding that Tinian will also require a considerable number of workers estimated at 3,500…” Sablan said.
The CNMI’s current labor pool—U.S. workers and foreign workers—won’t be enough to meet all the workforce needs once these major construction projects begin.
An over $3 billion integrated casino resort on Saipan alone would need a minimum of 2,000 rooms to be built from the ground up. At least four other major hotels will be built in San Antonio, Garapan, and Marpi, and others will be renovated.
The government, along with private sector partners, has also been pushing for increased training and hiring of U.S. citizens to prepare for the end of the CW program five years from now.