CW bill a ‘welcome reprieve’


Senate President Arnold I. Palacios (R-Saipan) believes the passage of S. 2325, which would extend the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program as well as open up more foreign worker slots in fiscal year 2019, is a “welcome reprieve” for the CNMI.

In a letter to the U.S. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI), Palacios urged the U.S. House of Representatives to pass U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) S. 2325.

S. 2325 resets the CW cap for fiscal year 2019 to 13,000; gives long-time CW workers more time on their work permits; and extends the CNMI transitional period, along with programs under it such as the CW program and the E-2C investor program, to fiscal year 2029.

The slated date of termination for the CW program is this December 2019.

“The NMI Senate strongly supports the passage of S. 2325, which is critical legislation to ensure the economic stability, promote economic growth, and more importantly to protect the public health and welfare of the people of the CNMI,” Palacios told Ryan, noting that the CNMI Senate adopted Senate Resolution 20-21 unanimously during a previous Senate session in support of S. 2325.

Recognizing that Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s (Ind-Saipan) H.R. 4869—a U.S. House version of S. 2325—is still at the committee level, Palacios urges the U.S. House to act on S. 2325 instead as that bill has already passed the U.S. Senate.

“…I humbly beseech the House of Representatives to pass S. 2325, which was already passed by the U.S. Senate on April 23, 2018,” Palacios wrote.

“The…U.S. Workforce Act (S. 2325) is a welcome reprieve for all the employers and employees, as well as the government of our beautiful islands,” added Palacios, noting that the CW cap of 4,999 for fiscal year 2019 would cause businesses to shut down by Sept. 30, 2017, if they not able to hire the necessary workers for their operations.

“The CNMI economy will plummet and the CNMI government may go bankrupt if we lose a majority of our businesses. The passage of S. 2325 is a matter of critical concern for everyone in the CNMI,” he said.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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