Dynasty’s 197 CW1 petitions denied

Petitions cover 693 beneficiaries Senate passes resolution urging USCIS to reconsider

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has denied 197 CNMI-only Transitional Worker petitions involving 693 beneficiaries of Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino.

Tinian Dynasty general manager Tom Liu confirmed that the company received a notice from USCIS but declined to comment further on the issue, saying the hotel’s lawyer is “handling this matter as we speak.”

The hotel is the largest private employer on Tinian.

The CNMI Senate adopted a resolution yesterday requesting USCIS to reconsider its decision to deny nearly 200 CW petitions made by Tinian Dynasty.

“The blanket denial of all 197 CW-1 petitions involving 693 beneficiaries employed at Tinian Dynasty without any opportunity to cure any defects is contrary to the clear intent of the CNRA to minimize the potential adverse and fiscal effects of phasing-out nonresidents,” reads the Senate resolution.

The CNRA, or the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2009, extended U.S. immigration controls to the CNMI and created the five-year transitional CW program that was subsequently extended to 2019 by U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez in June 2014.

Tinian Dynasty’s new owner, Mega Stars Overseas, Ltd., said they appreciate the gesture from the Senate.

“We appreciate the Senate’s quick action in adopting a resolution in support of our situation,” said Liu.

The Senate resolution also noted that the USCIS’ denial of CW-1 petitions affecting 693 beneficiaries would cause Tinian Dynasty to shut down and close its doors to tourists at a time when the CNMI’s tourism industry is on the rebound.

That closure will have a tremendous effect on Tinian’s economy, which solely relies on revenues from the casino to stay afloat.

Tinian Dynasty, the resolution reads, annually spends about $8.5 million in payroll, $1.4 million in business gross revenue tax, $735,055 in FICA remittances, nearly $2.4 million in gaming tax to the Tinian local government, $439,000 on EWR, $588,914 on hotel room tax, $25,444 on bar tax, $3.6 million on Commonwealth Utilities Corp. billings, $3.7 million on suppliers, $975,000 on Star Marianas Air services, and $600,000 on Mobil Oil Marianas.

“The hotel and casino closure will have an astronomical negative impact on the island of Tinian and its economy as well as the CNMI in general…the adverse economic impact of Tinian Dynasty’s closure will be an enormous financial loss considering how much annually it expends to operate…”

The resolution further noted that Tinian Dynasty shuttering its doors would displace current employees and their families.

“Men, women, and children will be forced to leave their existing homes and return to their countries where jobs are scarce or nonexistent. Many employees have U.S. citizen children who will be uprooted from the only life they have known since birth.”

The Senate resolution added that Tinian Dynasty’s previous owner made numerous mistakes and is still involved in litigation regarding such mistakes. However, it said the new owner, Mega Stars, has paid its dues and desires to continue doing business on Tinian and the CNMI.

“Mega Stars Overseas Ltd. purchased Tinian Dynasty in 2013 and has invested over $40 million to cure all legal and financial difficulties of the previous owner, including paying back wages of employees and taxes owed to the government. Mega Stars is committed to Tinian and its people and will continue to be a good partner by providing much needed revenue and employment opportunities.”

In an interview after the passage of the resolution, Sen. Francisco M. Borja (Ind-Tinian) implored USCIS to reconsider its decision denying the CW-1 petitions of Tinian Dynasty.

“That is really a drastic move. When they passed the CNRA, one of the comments there is that it does not affect the CNMI economically. But what they’re doing now is going to affect Tinian,” he said.

The chairman of the Tinian Legislative Delegation did confirm that Tinian Dynasty and Mega Stars have not lost hope and are talking with USCIS to find a solution to the matter.

“There still trying to appeal and find ways. I also want to talk to Congressman Kilili [Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan] to discuss this issue. I know he’s on island but before he leaves I want to talk to him and see what he can do.”

Borja said if the CW workers do leave, it would cripple Tinian Dynasty, forcing its closure and that may lead to Tinian suffering economically.

Mark Rabago | Associate Editor
Mark Rabago is the Associate Editor of Saipan Tribune. Contact him at Mark_Rabago@saipantribune.com

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