In dismissing CUC suit over denial of CW-1 renewal petitions

Manglona rules DHS complied with CNRA

A federal judge has determined that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security complied with the law when it rejected the renewal petitions of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp. for 13 of its foreign workers.

U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona has determined that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security complied with both the Consolidated Natural Resources Act and the Administrative Procedure Act when it rejected CUC’s renewal petitions for its 13 CW-1 workers or CNMI-only transitional workers.

Manglona said she has previously determined the CW-1 cap set for fiscal year 2016 to be valid. Because DHS a lawfully adhered to the limit mandated by the CNRA in rejecting CUC’s petitions, injury cannot result from the enforcement of a valid cap, she said.

Manglona made the determination in her written order last week, March 13, that dismissed CUC’s and the 13 workers’ complaint against DHS and its co-defendants.

The judge determined that any amendment to the lawsuit would be futile.

Manglona ruled that the court has subject matter jurisdiction to determine whether DHS has acted contrary to law, in an arbitrary and capricious manner, or abused its discretion when setting the annual CW-1 caps for fiscal years 2013 through 2017.

CUC and its 13 alien workers sued DHS, then-DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and others for allegedly not acting on CUC’s petitions for CW-1 permit renewals.

DHS and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services rejected CUC’s renewal petitions for its 13 alien workers for fiscal 2016.

The CW-1 cap for fiscal 2016, which ran from Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016, was set at 12,999.

Sometime after May 5, 2016, but before the expiration of their current CW-1 permits, CUC submitted renewal petitions for the 13 workers.

The 13 workers’ permits expired on various dates in June, July, August, and September 2016.

In a letter dated June 8, 2016, DHS and USCIS notified CUC that all 13 renewal petitions were rejected due to three reasons.

One reason is that USCIS had received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the CW-1 cap for fiscal 2016.

The second is that May 5, 2016, was the final receipt date for CW-1 worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2016.

The last reason is that the petitions arrived at the California Service Center after May 5, 2016, and did not qualify for exemption from the CW-1 cap.

Three weeks after receiving the notice of rejection, CUC and its 13 workers, through counsel James Sirok, sued.

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Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com

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