Both acting governor Victor B. Hocog and House Speaker Raphael Demapan (R-Saipan) praised Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ meeting with U.S. President Donald J. Trump on the CW-1 issues.
Torres met with the president in Hawaii after the latter passed by the state before starting his Asia-Pacific trip, which included visits to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Trump spent a few hours in Honolulu to talk about the issues of the governors of Guam, American Samoa, Alaska, and Hawaii.
“I am very pleased [Trump] and the governor are discussing. I communicated with the governor whether he conveyed [to the President] our present situation and the governor told me that the President would support us 100 percent,” said Hocog, adding that discussions to allow the CNMI to continue to thrive must persist.
“We need to continue our economic approach; with all these soon-to-rise buildings, we definitely need more workers. There may be some messages saying we [have high unemployment] in the CNMI, but they have to understand that…these individuals do not have [construction experience],” said Hocog.
Demapan also lauded the ongoing talks between Torres and Trump.
“I am very grateful to the governor for putting a focus on taking care of our CW-1 issue dilemma. I would also like to commend the president for taking the time to meet with our governor and sharing some of his thoughts on our situation,” said Demapan, adding that communications with the Trump administration must continue to make sure “we continue to find solutions.”
Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan’s (Ind-MP) H.R. 339, which passed in late August 2017, added an additional 350 slots to the CW-1 numerical limit of 12,998 for fiscal year 2017. Along with additional slots, the same law also had provisions that precluded recent construction workers from applying for a CW-1 visa.
Hocog reportedly “asked the governor” to discuss the dilemma with the president during his meeting.
“We cannot put [workers] in construction when they lack the knowledge to [build] high-rise buildings,” he said, adding that he hopes that training from the Northern Marianas Trades Institute would provide “local people” the “knowledge to [provide the workforce] in the future.”