Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) announced today that the Department of Homeland Security is reducing the numerical limit for Commonwealth-Only Transitional workers, or CW-1, for FY 2017 to 12,998, one less than the FY 2016 cap. Gov. Ralph Torres and Sablan received information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services about the decision this morning.
“Earlier this year, I asked DHS officials to consider reducing the CW cap by a very small number in 2017, to minimize any economic harm during this period of growth in our tourism industry in the Marianas,” Sablan said.
“The decision to reduce the cap by one for fiscal 2017 demonstrates, once again, the care and attention given by the people at Homeland Security to ensure that the transition to federal immigration law in our islands is as least difficult as possible.”
The Consolidated Natural Resources Act extended U.S. immigration law to the Northern Marianas and established the Commonwealth-Only Transitional Worker classification to meet the need for workers who would not otherwise be eligible under federal law. It also requires the number of CW workers to be reduced each year and reach zero by Dec. 31, 2019.
“We know from our experience with the 2016 cap that the new 2017 number will not cover all of the CW workers who are present and needed in the Marianas,” Congressman Sablan said.
“CWs comprise almost half of our total workforce today, and in the months and years ahead we must step up our efforts to successfully transition to the end of the CW program. This means recruiting, training, and hiring more U.S. workers, and shifting to other available visa categories for the foreign workers we need to supplement our labor force.”
The Department of Homeland Security notice setting the CW numerical limit for fiscal 2017 is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Friday, Sept. 2, 2016 (EST). A pre-publication version of the notice is available for viewing online at https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2016-21325.pdf. (PR)