Kilili says CW bill just entered signing process

Torres clarifies bill must be presented before starting 10-day count

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) clarified that the NMI U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 just entered the stage in which it is presented to U.S. President Donald J. Trump.

In an email to Saipan Tribune, House Resolution 5956 only yesterday entered the signing process, said Sablan citing the U.S. House enrolling clerk.

According to Sablan, a bill that has passed U.S. Congress must first take five to 10 days to get enrolled, signed by presiding officers of the House and Senate, and transmitted to the U.S. President for action. The President then has 10 days to approve or veto the bill.

“[H.R. 5956] passed just 10 minutes before Congress adjourned, and official business cannot take place unless Congress is in session. Congress returned to session today [yesterday]—Tuesday in Washington,” noted Sablan.

“I am hopeful that the bill will be transmitted to the President within the next 24 to 48 hours. The congressional office will be immediately notified once transmittal is completed, and we will share that information with the public,” he continued.

Sablan said in the same email that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ previous statement, which assured the signage of the bill within 10 days, was “incorrect.”

“He should have checked his information because unfortunately, many people relied on his assurances and were misled. The congressional office has been receiving many anxious calls and emails from businesses and employees seeking clarification,” said Sablan, referring to Torres.

In a previous statement, Torres announced alongside the passage of H.R. 5956 through U.S. Congress that his office received assurance from White House officials that Trump would sign the bill within 10 days.

“As a point of clarification, the bill must be presented to the President first, then after it has been presented, he has within 10 days, excluding Sundays, to act on the bill, pursuant to Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution,” said a new statement from the Torres administration, stating that the administration has received notification from the U.S. House Speaker’s Office that the bill will “likely be transmitted to the White House this week.”

“The delay in transmittal coincided with Fourth of July festivities in Washington, D.C. Once the bill is transmitted and documented by the White House Office of Legislative Affairs, the bill will be presented to the President, and the 10-day constitutional requirement commences,” the statement continued, adding that the Torres administration has been in constant communication with both the White House and the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House.

Further clarifications on the program pertaining to the new regulations set forth by H.R. 5956 would be released at a later date, according to Torres’ press Ssecretary Kevin Bautista.

He noted that the discussions between Torres and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are still “confidential and ongoing,” and promised information pertaining to the matter would soon be released once H.R. 5956 is enacted.

The same statement from the Torres administration noted that his office has been in contact with the Department of Homeland Security and USCIS on the new regulations of H.R. 5956 on the CW program. It noted that Torres’ recommendations and concerns have been forwarded to USCIS and will allow for a “more effective coordination” of the CW program.

H.R. 5956 resets the number of CW visa slots for fiscal year 2019 to 13,000 instead of the USCIS number of 4,999 slots for the fiscal year. USCIS reportedly set the CW slots at a low number in anticipation for 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 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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