If all foreign workers leave…

Radiator Springs is a fictional town in the animated movie Cars. It was once a popular stop along Route 66, when tourists were plenty and jobs were abundant. But the town literally vanished when Interstate 40 was constructed. Businesses had to shut down. Residents had to move out. 

The CNMI, like Radiator Springs, may go back to its barren state if the CW program ceases. Some may say that is too harsh but think about what could happen. The current population of the CNMI is approximately about 50,000. Some 40 percent of that population is composed of CWs and their families. 

Imagine this.

If all foreign workers leave, that would be 40-percent drop in CUC consumers. It could mean a rise in electric bill charges so they can maintain the upkeep of their machines, generators, and plants. That could mean rolling blackouts again and water interruptions. 

It could mean a 40-percent drop in gasoline demand. That could mean an increase in gas prices to help continue the import of gasoline to the islands.

It would also mean a 40-percent drop in the number of users of phones, cable, and internet. That could pose an increase in the billing so that they can retain the services that they currently offer. 

It would also mean a 40-percent drop in consumers buying store goods. That would also suggest an increase in the prices of goods to pay for the rent and services that proprietors also have to pay.

That would include a 40-percent drop in housing/apartment rentals. Realty businesses would crash. Houses and apartments alike would be empty and abandoned. 

Some say they do not need CWs here. They say CWs are taking away the job from the locals. But CW jobs are positions that the local workforce cannot fill because of skills issue (accountants, nurses, engineers, etc.) or menial jobs that they would not be caught working on. 

Who do you suppose would fix your cars and houses if most of the mechanics, electricians, plumbers, and construction workers leave? Who would look after your children if workers at the daycare center leaves? Who would cut and fix your hair and do your makeup when the salon workers leave? How about those working in hotels and hospitals? 

What about the children of the CWs that represent the islands in international sports and scholastic competition? Read the newspaper, check how many foreign sounding names represent the CNMI in sports and academic meets. That is still CNMI pride right there.

Yes, the CWs need jobs. But truth of the matter is, locals need them as much as the CWs need their jobs. All are interdependent in this matter. This is not a simple us versus them problem. Everyone is involved. Everyone is affected. 

Tourism will greatly suffer and that’s where most of the income of the island comes from. Will those skeptics be just as happy living off on federal grants and food stamps than working alongside other nationalities so that our community can thrive? 

Wouldn’t you rather flourish and succeed on your own than continue to live on hand-me-downs because the government could no longer support its own? The CNMI is very privileged to be getting federal grants. Yes, privilege and not a right. And that privilege can be taken away at anytime.

As the debate about the ongoing CW cap heats up, we would do well to remember that we are all on an island, under the protection of the United States of America, where it has always been a place of freedom and refuge from poverty and persecution. 
Be smart. Help others understand. Support the CW program and sign the ongoing petition.

Sarah Perez
Navy Hill, Saipan

Contributing Author Author

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