The Saipan Chamber of Commerce has come out in support of the Northern Mariana Islands Stabilization Act, legislation introduced by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) to give U.S. permanent resident status to long-term workers and investors in the Commonwealth.
In a letter received by Sablan this week, Chamber president Velma Palacios wrote, “The changes outlined in this bill would provide an avenue for existing foreign workers to remain in the CNMI to support our businesses. We very much appreciate your effort and attention to our workforce issues.”
“I am sure that the workers who would benefit from my bill and from U.S. permanent resident status will appreciate the support of the Chamber,” said Sablan, “as do I.
“Official statements of support from community leaders are an important part of the record and can be extremely helpful to me in moving legislation in Congress.”
The Saipan Chamber is composed of more than 160 private businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.
“As our island is small and remote, our Chamber takes great measures to work with our whole community as we are interdependent upon each other,” Palacios said in her letter to Sablan.
“I completely agree with that ‘whole community’ philosophy,” said Sablan. “As they say, united we stand, divided we fall.
“I hope that other community organizations will take a look at my bill, the Northern Mariana Islands Workforce Stabilization Act, H.R. 6578, and come to the same conclusion as the Chamber that converting CW workers to U.S. workers is one way to respond to the needs of our growing economy.
“Plus, as the Chamber says, the long-term workers have experience and a proven track record that their employers know they can rely on.”
Sablan also announced yesterday that he has added three more members of Congress as co-sponsors of his proposed Workforce Stabilization Act, bringing the total number of Republicans and Democrats supporting his bill to 27.
Reps. Jackie Speier, Barbara Lee, and Yvette Clark all added their names, backing Sablan’s bill.
Sablan introduced the Workforce Stabilization Act on July 26, just two days after his U.S. Workforce Act was signed into law. The Stabilization Act relies on the new definition of “long-term worker” that Sablan included in the U.S. Workforce Act.
“Of course, I wanted to include status for long-term workers in the U.S. Workforce Act, Public Law 115-218,” Sablan said. “And I tried.
“But, when you legislate, you negotiate. And when you negotiate you do not always get everything you want.
“I did get the definition of ‘long-term worker’ included in the new law. That responds to the concerns raised by the Department of Homeland Security during the 902 consultations and sets up the terms of the Stabilization Act.
“This year, however, what was most important for the Marianas economy, for the Chamber, and for long-term workers themselves, was to get 10 more years and reset the CW cap to 13,000. And we succeeded.
“Next year, especially if Democrats regain control of the House and introduce a comprehensive immigration bill—as I expect will happen—then I will have another opportunity to work on status for long-term workers and investors, as I have been since 2011.
“Now, I have a marker on the table with H.R. 6578, the Workforce Stabilization Act,” Sablan explained. “I am ready.” (PR)