U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has no plans to set aside CW permit applications that are not included in a planned lottery.
In a statement to Saipan Tribune, USCIS said that they would not “rack” CW permit applications as previously requested by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) in a letter.
To rack denied applications is to set aside permits while retaining its chronological order, meaning if additional slots open up, the first permit submitted would still first be processed.
“…USCIS will not hold any petitions and we will inform the public regarding any changes in legislation that would affect CNMI-only transitional workers,” said a representative of the federal agency, adding that only applications submitted from April 2, 2018, to April 13, 2018, are included in the lottery.
“Those petitions not selected in the lottery will be rejected and USCIS will return all filing fees,” the statement added.
USCIS set the CW cap for fiscal year 2019 at 4,999, almost half of the previous fiscal year’s cap. If additional slots were to open for fiscal year 2019, applications must be resubmitted to USCIS.
USCIS had announced that they would be using a lottery system in approving CW permits, since it has received sufficient applications to meet the cap since they started accepting petitions last April 2. The federal agency cited fairness in the selection process as their reason to using the lottery system.
“I sent a third letter to the [USCIS] secretary pleading with her to reverse her decision [on the CW cap],” Sablan said in a press conference yesterday, adding that when former president Barack Obama was in office, he was able to secure a CW cap reduction of only one slot.
He said the massive reduction in the CW cap is unnecessary and harmful while referring to USCIS’ decision to utilize a lottery system as a “slap to the face” of the people of the Marianas.
“It is not required that [USCIS reduce the CW cap to] 4,999. They can reduce [the cap] by one today [and still be compliant with the law],” he said. “But this is the Trump administration,” adding that the Trump administration does not take too kindly to immigrants.
Saipan Tribune has yet to procure a copy of Sablan’s third letter to USCIS.
US House prepping to act on S. 2325
Sablan reiterated at the press conference that S. 2325, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s (R-AK) bill that extends the CW program for another 10 years while bringing up the cap to 13,000 for fiscal year 2019, was generally accepted by the U.S. Senate.
“The bill is getting better chances at passing the Senate. At the same time, we are working with the House in expectation that it would come down and [we] would get it out as fast as possible,” he said.
“We are…making sure there are no hiccups to get this done as soon as possible once it passes the Senate. It is a very timely, very urgent bill,” he added.
When asked about U.S. President Donald J. Trump’s possible reception of the bill, Sablan believes that he would support the bill.
“…The bill is the work of bipartisan, bicameral congressional offices. I don’t have any reason to think that President Trump would not support it,” he said, despite recognizing the fact that this administration is “not very friendly to immigrants.”
“This bill is a program just for the territories so we would treat it as such and get it signed,” he said, adding that he also relied on Murkowski’s previous assurance that the U.S. President would support the bill.