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Last updateSat, 23 Mar 2019 12am







    Friday, March 22, 2019-4:02:26A.M.






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Governor to Kilili: Do what is right for NMI and its people

GOVERNOR Ralph D.L.G. Torres on Thursday responded to U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan’s “request” regarding a bill that will grant improved immigration status to qualified long-time guest workers and investors in the CNMI.

Kilili has asked the governor to support H.R. 6578 which the lawmaker introduced recently.

In his letter to Kilili, the governor said:

Ralph Torres

“It has been and will continue to be my personal and official position that more effort is needed to provide long-term guest workers in our economy security in their legal status and to ensure their families remain intact.

“This is a critical issue for our Commonwealth both economically and socially, but it is the United States Congress that has the ultimate authority to authorize what has been clear to us for many years.

“You asked for a statement of my support. In response, I wish to provide you with the following:

“In 2011, one month prior to your introduction of HR 1466 in the 112th Congress, I worked with my colleagues in the 17th  Northern Marianas Commonwealth Legislature to publish the only official CNMI document in which we expressed full support for the measure to grant improved status to long-term guest workers. We undertook 10 public hearings, did our research, heard concerns raised by numerous people within our community, and produced a 365-page report that outlined an official recommendation to the U.S. Congress. I am proud of this work and stand by our findings.

“In 2016, I led our CNMI delegation in the Section 902 consultations with the federal government, which produced the first ever report to the U.S. Congress that expressed support for permanent status for our long-term guest workers. It is through these constructive conversations with our federal counterparts that a legislative framework was established for workforce-policy discussions between the CNMI and the U.S. In the report, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security agreed with our recommendation that Congress should seriously consider options for a more permanent status for workers and their families. I am proud of this accomplishment and stand by our findings.

“This report was provided to you with the support of the Obama administration and the federal consultation team. Yet, action on passage of this legislation did not occur. It is a fact, that you submitted two separate legislative bills, with the only change between them being the provisions granting improved status.

“I have been consistent in my belief that improved status is good for the CNMI both economically and socially in order to recognize the contributions long-term guest workers have made and continue to make in our islands and in an effort to prevent the separation of families.

“Many of our long-term guest workers have been a part of our community for decades. They have contributed both their professional skills and their personal efforts toward the betterment of these islands. Their children, many of whom are U.S. citizens, have gone to school together with our children. We rebuild our community after disasters together and support the progress of our islands together.

“This has been a paramount priority of mine personally and of this administration and with every opportunity I have been given, I have provided my support. However, we still have no legislation that effectively advocates for people who have helped build our Commonwealth, for people who have contributed to this progress, and for people who call these islands home.

“It was not until this year that we passed meaningful federal legislation in a Republican Congress and a Republican administration that ensures there is a full acknowledgement and protection for our long-term guest workers and their families and additional time for the construction and progress of our islands to continue. After ten years of your term in Congress, we passed meaningful federal immigration legislation in 2018.

“As Governor, I will remain committed to continue the constructive conversations I have had with Members of Congress and the White House in order to get permanent status to the floor of Congress and to the White House for enactment.

“You asked for a statement of my support. I provide you with this:

“As our current delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives, it is your responsibility to do what is right for our Commonwealth and the people who call these islands home.”