SCC: Touchback delay is best option

Posted on Mar 17 2023

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce believes that a bill to delay the implementation of the “touchback rule” by three years is the best option for the CNMI right now, considering the current climate in the U.S. Congress.

In a news release yesterday, the SCC said it is extremely appreciative of Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan’s (D-MP) introduction of H.R. 1420.

SCC board director Alex Sablan said that, based on the current climate in Congress, H.R. 1420 is the best option and has the greatest success of passage through both houses of Congress.

“We’re hopeful that both Houses see that this is yet another piece of legislation that will help provide workforce continuity in our economy. We view this bill as ensuring commerce and our economy continue to grow and support the citizens of the CNMI as we all continue to recover from more than three years of economic downturn due to pandemic related impacts,” he said.

“We’re hopeful we can make our case with Congress and assist in any way possible [Delegate] Gregorio Kilili Sablan in its successful passage,” he added.

He said H.R. 1420 will provide CNMI employers, employees, and the CNMI economy “the much needed reprieve it requires to steadily grow as tourism rebounds and returns to pre-pandemic numbers and Gov. [Arnold I.] Palacios and Lt. Gov. [David M.] Apatang work toward adding a proverbial second leg in our economic stool with the military buildup in the region and the CNMI.

The “touchback rule,” which will take effect on Sept. 30, 2023, requires select foreign workers holding CW visas in the CNMI to exit the CNMI before employers could apply to have their work contracts renewed. H.R. 1420 seeks to delay the implementation of this rule by three years.

Right now, the U.S. House of representatives is dominated by the Republican Party, which is usually tough on immigration-related matters. This is presumably what the SCC refers to as the “current climate” in Congress. The U.S. Senate is controlled by the Democratic Party. (PR/Saipan Tribune)

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