Mayor: Tinian dependent on Murkowski-Sablan bill

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TINIAN—The island is dependent on the bill that aims to extend the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Visa program, according to Tinian Mayor Joey Patrick San Nicolas. He said there is no alternative way to save Tinian’s progress if the bill fails to pass Congress.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced in the U.S. Senate earlier this year a bill to extend the CW program for 10 more years. Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) introduced a similar bill in the U.S. House of Representatives the same day.

During the hearing to discuss the bill, San Nicolas represented the island of Tinian. “I was very fortunate to witness the hearing and we are happy that the bill reflects the needs of the Commonwealth,” he said.

According to San Nicolas, the bill is important for Tinian because there are a few projects on the island that would require a great deal of manpower.

“Tinian is going to require heavy construction for the three major developments so the continuation of the program is a must. It is required,” he said, adding that Tinian is close to experiencing an economic boom due to investors who are interested in creating a number of industries like a new hotel casino, a ferry terminal, and an international terminal.

San Nicolas said that all he wants for Tinian is to have the capacity not just in numbers but also in skill to handle the various industries that they will soon have. “We are not there yet, so we will continue to need foreign workers to fill that gap and it’s a huge gap at this point.”

According to San Nicolas, he is aware that the number of CW workers will inevitably reach zero, but for the sake of Tinian’s future, the island depends on the bill to be enacted.

“The plan is that, one day, it will go down to zero, but for now…we need this relief, we need the Murkowski-Sablan bill to be passed to continue the growth we are enjoying in the Commonwealth,” he said.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.

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