3 May 2008

Calls for CNMI not to lose sight of economic issues

9:53 am on 3 May 2008

The lead official for United States relationships with insular areas says the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariannas should not lose sight of pressing economic issues while the new immigration system is being implemented.

Nikolao Pula, the acting deputy assistant secretary for insular affairs, says that after the passage of the "federalization" bill, there is still a lot of work ahead for the federal agencies and the local government to implement the legislation.

The US House of Representatives has taken the final legislative step in applying federal immigration law to the Northern Marianas and granting the CNMI non-voting delegate to the U.S. House.

The CNMI government and local businesses have opposed the bill, fearing that Washington would be restrictive in allowing guest workers in the commonwealth.

The bill now heads to the White House, where the president is expected to act on the bill within 10 days of receiving it.

Mr Pula said he believes everyone would back the opportunity to have a CNMI delegate in Congress.

He says the CNMI's economic problems will be taken into consideration.