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    Tuesday, November 19, 2019-11:18:00A.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Kilili bill to allow hiring of 3,000 construction CWs

U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said he has introduced H.R. 4479 proposing to add 3,000 construction workers to the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker or CW program.

The bill, titled the Disaster Recovery Workforce Act, has been referred to the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary.

Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan

The bill states: “Notwithstanding any numerical cap set forth in subparagraph (B) for each of fiscal years 2020, 2021, and 2022, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall increase by 3,000, for each such fiscal year, the total number of aliens who may receive a permit under this section for Construction and Extraction Occupations (as defined by the Department of Labor as Standard Occupational Classification Group 47–0000).”

In a statement, Kilili said: “Responding to the need for construction workers to help with ongoing typhoon recovery efforts, I have introduced legislation making 3,000 new CW permits available. H.R. 4479 allows for the additional workers for three fiscal years: 2020 through 2022.”

Currently, Kilili said, the law prohibits using CW permits for construction workers.

“The new permits would not count against annual caps on CW permits already set by law. It is clear from my personal observation and from reports from constituents that a lack of construction workers is slowing down our recovery. And, because the Trump administration took our normal source of construction workers, the Philippines, off the list of countries approved for H-2B visas this year, we cannot use that visa category to fill the need. We are going to have to make a temporary change in the law, if we want to rebuild our schools and other public infrastructure and replace roofs and repair damage to homes, as quickly as possible,” Kilili said.

In an interview, House Committee on Commerce and Tourism Chairman Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero said the CNMI needs 5,000 new construction CWs for more than three years so that developers who have ongoing projects on island can complete their projects.