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Last updateFri, 22 Feb 2019 12am

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    Wednesday, February 20, 2019-5:40:31A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Pacific legislators back NMI exemption from new H-2B rule

THE Association of Pacific Island Legislatures has adopted a resolution “respectfully and urgently requesting” the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to exempt the Commonwealth from a new federal rule excluding the Philippines from the H-2B visa program in 2019.

The 59th APIL board of directors met in Yap, the Federated States of Micronesia and adopted several resolutions including Resolution No. 59-BOD-07 which stated that the DHS’ “ill-timed decisions have come at a very unfortunate time when the people of the Northern Mariana Islands are trying to recover from the ravages of Super Typhoon Yutu, and as reconstruction efforts begin, requiring the assistance of highly skilled, natural disaster recovery workers.”

It further states that “despite the presence of disaster relief monies made available to the Commonwealth through the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency and other humanitarian sources, the inability of the NMI to obtain the sufficient numbers of requisite skilled laborers, both within the Commonwealth and from abroad, is seriously affecting its recovery efforts and the health and welfare of the NMI people.”

The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures “hereby respectfully, yet urgently, requests that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its USCIS agency work in close coordination with the government officials of the CNMI with respect to the possible exemption of the CNMI from their recent departmental and agency decisions affecting the ability of the CNMI to recruit highly-skilled Filipino workers to help the people of the Commonwealth recover from the ravages of Super Typhoon Yutu.”

New APIL secretary

Before adopting the resolution, APIL president Fernando Scaliem, a Pohnpei legislator, called for nominations for a new secretary, the position previously held by former CNMI Rep. Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero. The APIL nominated and elected CNMI Rep. Ivan Blanco as the new secretary

The CNMI has two seats on the APIL board: Blanco, who was appointed by Speaker Blas Jonathan Attao, and Sen. Vinnie Sablan, who was appointed by Senate President Victor B. Hocog.

With the election of Blanco as APIL secretary, Speaker Attao appointed Rep. Leepan Guerrero to fill the seat vacated by Blanco on the board.

Attao said: “I thank APIL President Scaliem and the other honorable members of APIL for endorsing Rep. Blanco to continue the CNMI’s term as APIL secretary. The CNMI will continue to work hand in hand with all APIL members for the good of our Pacific region.”

APIL consists of lawmakers from the CNMI, Hawaii, Kiribati, Nauru, American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, Guam, Palau and the FSM states of Chuuk, Kosrae, Pohnpei and Yap.

APIL’s other officers are Nelson Stephen of Chuuk, vice president; and Kaure Babo of Kiribati, treasurer.