[I still fail to see how foreign national workers and their leaders could support this bill (and its predecessors) when the bill intends to reduce the foreign worker population down to zero. This is the same thing that the Variety claims is the intent of PL 15-108 even though PL 15-108 never had a provision in it to reduce the size of the foreign worker population down to ZERO. Go figure!]
Wednesday March 19, 2008
‘Foreign workers can transfer anytime if S. 2739 becomes law’
By Gemma Q. Casas
Variety News Staff
FEDERAL Labor Ombudsman Jim Benedetto says the ability of foreign workers to transfer is guaranteed if S.2739, which includes the CNMI federalization measure, is enacted into law.
But he said questions about the implications of certain provisions of the bill can only be determined after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security adopts specific regulations.
The U.S. Senate is expected to deliberate and act on S. 2739 after their Easter break.
Under the bill, Benedetto said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is tasked to establish, administer and enforce a system for allocating and determining the numbers, terms and conditions of permits that will be issued to each guest worker in the CNMI who will be considered as transitional worker.
Benedetto said this means that the department has to pass implementing regulations that should determine how many years transitional workers can work in the commonwealth, among other things.
“It could be a year, three years or five years. That has not been determined yet pending the passage of regulations,” Benedetto told Variety in a phone interview when asked about the length of stay of transitional workers.
He said the provisions of S. 2739 concerning the Northern Marianas should be implemented within a year after its enactment, but it also has a clause that allows the federal government to extend them for another 180 days.
The measure aims to gradually reduce the number of foreign workers every year. By 2014, the CNMI can no longer employ foreign workers.
But Benedetto said this is impossible to achieve given the islands’ small population, and this why the drafters of the bill inserted a clause to allow an indefinite extension of the federal guest worker program in increments of five years, subject to the approval of the U.S. Labor secretary.
“If the secretary of labor determines that such an extension is necessary to ensure an adequate number of workers for legitimate businesses in the commonwealth, the secretary of Labor may, through notice published in the Federal Register, provide for an additional extension of up to five years,” a portion of S. 2739 stated.