25 Feb 2011

Non-resident workers protest against CNMI citizenship plans

4:28 pm on 25 February 2011

About 600 non-resident workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas marched last night in protest against Senate plans that would make gaining citizenship harder.

The walk ended at a Senate hearing into draft recommendations on the immigration status of non-resident workers.

Under the changes they would have to live in CNMI for 10 years before they could apply for status similar to that of Freely Associated States citizens, or be eligible for green cards.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago says the government needs non-resident workers.

"They are the ones who are employed in the private sector and without them the economy would go into tatters, the issue is having these non-resident workers granted green card status they might leave and they would be lacking workers, at the same time they're afraid that if the workers get status and are allowed to vote then they will have political power which they don't have presently."

Mark Rabago says foreign workers think they should only have to wait five years before they can apply for pathway to citizenship.