Torres wants DHS’ help in labor crackdown


The Torres administration is set to request the Department of Homeland Security to allow local enforcement agencies to implement federal immigration laws.

Gov. Ralph DLG Torres made the decision in the aftermath of the controversy with contractor MCC International, one of the subcontractors of Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC’s multi-million dollar casino hotel, Imperial Pacific Resort.

MCC project manager Yuqing Zhao and electrician Pei Ruan were charged with violating immigration and labor laws at the U.S. District Court for the NMI yesterday. That included bringing in and harboring illegal aliens.

John F. Kelly is DHS secretary under the Trump administration. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and Customs and Border Patrol are among the attached agencies under Homeland.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, on Thursday, made a search against the hiring practices of two companies in connection with the recent death of a worker at the Imperial Pacific Resort’s construction site.

Torres, in a statement, said the FBI’s recent act is part of his administration’s goal of cracking down on those violating immigration and labor laws.

“For the past several weeks, I have been actively informing our business community that the practice of bringing in foreign workers under the guise of tourists will threaten our economy and our continued growth,” said Torres.

“The recent FBI action on MCC for their hiring practices is in line with my personal goal to increase penalties against those who threaten our community’s progress.”

He added that his administration’s request is in connection with Section 287 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, authorizing Homeland to deputize selected state and local law officers in enforcing federal immigration laws.

“My office is working on submitting a request to the Department of Homeland Security to allow local CNMI officers to perform the duties of federal immigration officers,” said Torres.

Section 287 (g) would also let local officers receive proper training and work under the guidance of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The ICE training would focus on identifying, processing, and—if appropriate—detaining immigration offenders.

“If approved, we will have the legal backing to continue to crack down on this practice using CNMI resources, because it will not be tolerated. Additionally, I am working with the CNMI Legislature to create criminal penalties for any employer who bring in workers into the CNMI illegally,” said Torres.

“I am told that this legislation will be introduced soon, and I am in full support of taking a hard line against those who profit from this illegal practice.”

CNMI Labor Secretary Edith Deleon Guerrero said she encourages the affected workers, and even others, to get in touch with them if they have experienced work-related abuses and unlawful practices.

She added that they are also conducting their own investigation, with the cooperation of other CNMI government agencies and departments that regulate health, sanitation, and environmental matters.

CNMI Labor’s investigation is in connection with alleged inhuman treatment of hundreds of Chinese construction workers. They are said to be living in cramped housing located in some abandoned complexes on the island. The staff housing can reportedly be found in Tanapag, As Terlaje, and Koblerville.
IPI statement

IPI (CNMI) LLC, in a statement, said they have not yet received any notice of investigation from the FBI. They also clarified that no employee of IPI had been arrested.

“Based on information available, the search and arrest was made against certain construction contractors and sub-contractors involved in the construction project in Garapan,” said IPI’s statement.

IPI’s statement added that they had also paid their contractors processing fees for the application of their workers.

“Imperial Pacific will continue to implement measures and consider additional measures to ensure compliance of federal and local laws, and regulations and to fulfill its contractual commitment to the community.”

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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