27 Apr 2010

Relief in CNMI after US reprieve for foreign workers over permits

9:35 pm on 27 April 2010

A charity helping migrant workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas says workers are relieved the United States government has offered a reprieve for some foreigners living there without permits.

The US took control of immigration in the CNMI last November and is bringing in a new system of work permits over the next two years.

After many workers missed the deadline for an interim umbrella work permit, the US says they may now be eligible for a special status known as Parole-in-Place which would allow them to stay and work in its Pacific territory until new permits come into force.

Karitad's Lauri Ogumoro says it's positive news for the more than 5-hundred workers who have been in limbo since immigration laws were federalised in the Mariannas.

"Most of the contract workers have felt insecure. They don't know quite what's happening. They're waiting to hear news from the federal government. They're waiting to hear news from their employers so there' s a lot of tension and concern in the contract worker population here."

Lauri Ogumoro says insecurity over work permits comes on top of the stress of the recession but jobless migrants are being well looked after in the community.