CW law expected today


U.S. President Donald J. Trump is expected to sign the CW bill today, Saipan Tribune learned yesterday.

In a statement from press secretary Kevin Bautista, he confirmed that the Torres administration has been expecting the enactment of the NMI U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, or Rep. Rob Bishop’s (R-UT) H.R. 5956, since early Tuesday morning.

“We are anticipating [the enactment of H.R. 5956 today],” Bautista told Saipan Tribune. “We were up early morning [yesterday] waiting for the bill because we were told it would be signed [yesterday or today].”

When asked for comments on the imminent deadline for Trump to enact H.R. 5956, which was earlier said to happen by July 24, 2018 Eastern Standard Time, Bautista noted that the administration would reserve its comments until the bill receives action. EST is 14 hours behind local time, which is designated as Chamorro Standard Time.

According to a previous newsletter from Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), Trump has yet to act on the bill. Sablan noted that Trump has until July 24 to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to become law without his signature.

According to previous statements from the Torres administration, Trump did assure that he would enact H.R. 5956, which Sablan co-sponsored.

According to the U.S. Constitution, any legislation that passes the U.S. Congress becomes law after 10 days if Congress is in session. The legislation becomes law assuming that it is not first vetoed by the President, in which case the legislation is killed and does not become law.

Sablan, in a statement to Saipan Tribune last July 11, 2018, clarified that it was only then that the constitutional 10-day period for a bill to become law started. The 10 days does not include Sundays.

H.R. 5956 resets the number of CW visa slots for fiscal year 2019 to 13,000 instead of the 4,999 slots U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services had designated for the fiscal year. USCIS reportedly set the CW slots at a low number in anticipation of the CW program’s slated sunset of Dec. 31, 2019.

The legislation also continues the bar on claims of asylum in the CNMI, which allows for the parole authority of the CNMI for Chinese tourists, which Sablan previously stated was about 45 percent of all arrivals to the NMI. The CNMI economy revolves around the tourism industry.

The legislation further provides for better status for CW visa holders who have been continuously employed in the NMI since fiscal year 2015 by allowing their employers to apply for a CW-1 visa that is valid for three years while also extending the transitional period to 2029, effectively extending the CW program and several other transitional programs by an additional 10 years.

H.R. 5956 passed U.S. Congress unanimously on June 28, 2018.

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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