A lawmaker expressed concern yesterday about reports that the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. has yet to obtain confirmation whether any of their immigration application for their foreign nurses had been approved.
Sen. Teresita Santos (R-Rota) told Saipan Tribune that any development that would throttle CHCC’s capacity to obtain work permits from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for CHCC nurses would be “regrettably sad,” especially with the rise in demand for inpatient and outpatient services, as stated in the CHCC 2017 report.
“Our hospital and health centers are in need of our nurses in order to ensure that the delivery of healthcare services are not jeopardized,” Santos said. “These data justify the dire need of maintaining our CW nurses,” she said.
Santos hopes that USCIS reconsiders the immigration applications of the nurses, given how vital the profession is for the health and welfare of the CNMI.
“The need to retain our CW nurses is critical for the delivery of healthcare services on all three islands,” she said.
In a separate statement yesterday, Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said it is “unfortunate and disappointing” that no CW-1 permit applications for CHC nurses got approved for fiscal year 2019.
Despite the adverse news, Torres remains hopeful that the U.S. House of Representatives would pass U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) S. 2325, a bill that resets the CW cap for fiscal year 2019 to 13,000; provides additional validity to long-time CW workers; 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.
“Gov. Torres has worked tirelessly with Sen. Murkowski to ensure that we have legislation in place that acknowledges long-term workers and vital occupations such as nurses for our hospital, while protecting U.S. workers. The product of that work, Senate Bill 2325, would provide protections for nurses and critical positions in the CNMI. We’ve done a lot through the Senate and are thankful we were able to pass the bill through unanimous consent. Now we await U.S. House of Representatives action to approve S. 2325. The hospital and our people need immediate attention and action on this important issue from Washington D.C.,” the statement said.
As of publication, S. 2325 remains with the U.S. House of Representatives and is expected to be acted on soon.