Marianas Update: End to guest worker program

A Senate bill has been introduced to end the guest worker program in the CNMI. Guest worker visas are notoriously problematic because a worker’s legal status is at the whim of their employer. Complain about working conditions? Complain about not being paid? Complain about sexual harrassment on the job? You get fired. Get fired? You’ll be deported.

On its face, then, getting rid of the guest worker program is a good idea — and in fact, progressive opposition to Congress’s most recent immigration package is based on the fact that it included new programs for temporary guest workers. (To be vigorously distinguished from regressive opposition to the package, which was based on Oh My God Scary Brown People.)

However. The proposed changes to immigration status for foreign workers in the CNMI are not good for workers. Under the bill, guest workers who have been employed in the Marianas for five years will be eligible to apply for “lawful non-immigrant status”. The key word here is non-immigrant. Non-immigrant status is a temporary condition. Under the terms of this bill, there is no provision for immigrant workers to apply for legal immigrant status. There is no path to a green card and then citizenship.

Non-immigrants are not eligible for federal assistance should they become unemployed. So the net effect for a worker who speaks out against her employer is the same. If you complain about your employer and get fired, good luck finding a job in another CNMI factory. So you want to strike out for the mainland?

Nothing in the immigration laws shall be construed to authorize or require any alien who has been admitted to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands pursuant to a Northern Mariana Islands-only visa or in any other status limited to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to be admitted to or permitted to enter any other part of the United States unless such admission or entry is otherwise authorized by the immigration laws.

Bad luck. You’re still stuck without decent legal protection.


One Response to “Marianas Update: End to guest worker program”

  1. Iupjxvwe Says:


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