DOH, DOLI join hands for limited immunity

Posted on Nov 27 1998

The Department of Health will assist the Department of Labor and Immigration in the implementation next month of the limited immunity for an estimated 5,000 overstaying guest workers to ensure that those who will be legalized will undergo health screening.

On December 2, the labor and immigration department will begin accepting applications for the amnesty program, which was designed to encourage illegal workers to gain legitimate employment in the Northern Marianas.

“We will be there to offer a helping hand to persons covered by the amnesty law,” Health Secretary Joseph Kevin Villagomez said in a statement issued through the Governor’s Public Information Office, “We are very concerned that illegal workers who are afraid of being deported are also afraid to get health care for themselves.”

According to Villagomez, children and dependents of overstaying foreign workers who will qualify under the limited immunity will be asked to avail of the islands’ health care system.

Representatives of DPH will be deployed to the labor department beginning December 2 to make available hospital registration forms.

The government has put in place a stringent health screening requirement for some 40,000 non-resident workers, whom local officials have largely blamed for the spread of tuberculosis and sexually-transmitted diseases in the Northern Marianas.

Under the limited immunity law, illegal workers have six months beginning next week Wednesday to voluntarily report to DOLI. If they qualify for amnesty, they will be allowed to seek lawful employment.

Northern Marianas is popular job destination among Asian workers, mostly Chinese, Filipinos and Bangladeshis, who make up more than 50 percent of the total work force in the commonwealth.

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