ON CONSTRUCTION WORKER BAN UNDER HR 339
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres said yesterday that the intent of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s (Ind-MP) House Resolution 339 and the repercussions of it after being enacted into law was something that he did not support.
Members of the Northern Marianas Business Alliance Corp. said in a statement last Monday that their trip to Washington, D.C. to discuss the fate of the CW-1 Program unearthed that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has been denying CNMI-Only Transitional Worker program applications for occupations such as general maintenance, gardeners, handymen, and other technical jobs due to it falling under the construction worker category.
After asking for comments, Torres told Saipan Tribune that H.R. 339’s effect to the CNMI was ultimately detrimental to the economy.
“…My support [on the bill] originally is not what has transpired and it is not what I supported; the outcome of [H.R. 339’s enactment] is devastating everybody here on the island and I am very concerned because those good folks that have been here on the island as construction workers, maintenance workers, gardeners—all fall under the category of construction workers,” Torres said in an interview during the opening of the new police substation in San Roque yesterday.
H.R. 339, among other things, has a provision that bars construction workers from utilizing the CW-1 program to work in the CNMI.
USCIS, according to NMBAC, considers occupations that deal with “general repairs” to fall under the U.S. Department of Labor’s overall construction category, which was used in H.R. 339.
“[Sablan’s] bill, H.R. 339, is going to devastate not just the CNMI, but even people’s lives…every plumber, gardener, anybody under the maintenance category would be removed because of H.R. 339–which allowed the definition of construction to be extended also for the CW-1 program [and] was [also] not my [intention] for supporting the bill,” said Torres.
Saipan Tribune attempted to reach out to Sablan, but failed due to the fact that according to the delegate’s deputy communications director Tina Sablan, the delegate was travelling.
Torres said his office would be “writing some letters” to communicate his concerns with Sablan.
“…We will continue to keep moving forward. I am here to support the NMBAC and our efforts to continue fighting for the workforce of the CNMI because what has transpired is absolutely unacceptable for our economy to continue to grow,” he said.