Torres wants CNMI to have say on allocation of CW workers numbers


Allowing the CNMI to be part of the process in controlling the allocation of CW-1 number is among the things that Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and the Commonwealth panel in the 902 talks are requesting from their counterparts from the federal government.

Torres said that having a control of allocation on the number of foreign workers was among the issues discussed during the second round of 902 talks held in Hawaii this year. Having control would prevent companies and other businesses to abuse and misuse it.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security set the fiscal year 2017 CW-1 cap to 12,998. Torres said that reducing the number of guest workers is stated under the law and is thankful for DHS reducing it to only one rather than a large number.

“Thank you for the only one deduction. But the law is to reduce it to zero, how would they expect our economy to grow when our CW-1 workers [are reduced] to zero? When we’re having difficulty to meet the labor demand? We are not even part of the participation process,” said Torres.

“That’s why we’re asking U.S. Congress to amend the law. We have pleaded our case that if that law continues, it would devastate the whole CNMI not just economically but also socially. That’s the reason why we are asking to increase the number of CW-1,” added Torres.

Bringing the CW-1 number back to 18,000 is another thing that the CNMI panel is asking for to sustain the economic gains that the Commonwealth has been experiencing. “We think that 18,000 is what we need to be our workforce to be successful.”

“I know that the USCIS has an obligation, so do we. That the law says that we have to zero out by 2019 but how can we meet the needs of incoming businesses,” said Torres

“On the other hand, we still have a whole year to work to increase that number through legislation,” said Torres. Giving back to the U.S. Labor Secretary the authority for extension and asking for a 10-year extension are the other things that the CNMI wanted.

Torres, in an earlier interview, said that CNMI immigration is a federal issue. “We don’t handle our immigration. But we—both the government and private sector—emphasized the importance of CW-1 workers”

He added that the CNMI has a huge labor demand with investors like Alter City Group, Best Sunshine International, Ltd., and Honest Profit International, Ltd.

CW-1 workers also have sons and daughters who were born here who are U.S. citizens. “A lot of these workers have sons and daughters that were born here and have entered the military fighting for our freedom. These are CW-1 workers who called the CNMI their second home.”

Jon Perez | Reporter
Jon Perez began his writing career as a sports reporter in the Philippines where he has covered local and international events. He became a news writer when he joined media network ABS-CBN. He joined the weekly DAWN, University of the East’s student newspaper, while in college.

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