The “rabbit” (public services) and the “turtle” (CW1 visa) are preparing for another round of their “rat” race. The “rabbit” lost big time during the Nov. 28, 2011, race and has had over a year of rest and planning in the process to try and win this upcoming race that is just around the corner. That is, if the “rabbit” learned anything from the past race. Let us see.
Yes, I am talking about the second round of CW1 permits or work visa renewals that foreign national will have to undergo under the USCIS requirement. USCIS will be requiring employers to renew the CW1 work visa for their foreign national worker. These jobs will be required to be advertised so that the primary preference for U.S. eligible workers are observed and exhausted before submitting their renewal petition to USCIS. I am sure that this is a race that once again will victimize our U.S. citizens due to the same conditions that existed during the last race that contributed to the non-hiring of qualified and available U.S. eligible worker. The advertisement will be all over the place and provide no accountability, obscure job terms and conditions, or simple and direct lies like there is no job, advertisement is just a formality because USCIS requires it, and having no forum to be heard on these concerns, just to mention a few. There are no programs at our state level for our U.S. eligible workers' protection to fill jobs in which they are qualified. Our legislators know that these exist and one can't ignore this fact.
H.B.17-234 is at the mercy of the House of Representatives. This bill aims to harmonize the sharing and strengthening of responsibilities between the state and the federal government on labor issues. While, Public Law 110-229 preempts the CNMI immigration laws in their entirety, labor issues on the other hand did not. This means that a shared responsibility must be developed and implemented to provide continued protection to U.S. eligible workers, if not the entire CNMI population where U.S. citizens and nationals are concerned. This bill will provide continued protections in the areas of wage payment and benefits, job availability, referral and placement of U.S. eligible workers in jobs that are available in the private sector here in the CNMI. This is what we need and our lawmakers are not doing anything about it.
This bill has been sitting at the lower house for almost a year, or I'd say, over six months and nothing has come from it. It was heard but, at this point, it is rendered moot. Not one of our legislators is making noise about this bill. Why? Is it because they do not care about the protection of these workers? And if they claim they do, why is the bill gathering dust?
Election is right around the corner. I call on all people, constituents, and registered voters, to start asking your congressman the hard questions regarding this bill. This bill is good for every household member, if not the entire CNMI. This will definitely provide protection for you and generations to come.
Be on the lookout for lame excuses for not passing this bill. You know how politician react when they get caught in a corner. Let us push the rabbit to the finish line. Do not allow the arrogance and overconfidence to take precedence. This was their downfall in the last race. Change your “rabbit” should you need to. We can't have the same “rabbit” racing for us when we know that we are going to lose. Time to change. Time to win!
Alfred A. Pangelinan