25 Feb 2011

Non-resident workers want improved status in CNMI

5:43 pm on 25 February 2011

Non-resident workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas jammed a Senate hearing last night to argue against proposed changes to citizenship status.

About 600 people joined a United Workers Movement march organised in Saipan.

Under the changes legal foreign workers would have to live in CNMI for 10 years before they could apply for pathway status or green cards, in the United States the wait is five years.

Our correspondent Mark Rabago says the goverment is afraid that if the workers get status and are allowed to vote then they will have political power.

"They seem to be standing by their recommendation and the earlier draft said that most of the non-resident workers were not really pining for improved status or pathway citizenship so that's why there was a protest like this. I won't be surprised if they continue to push this recommendation."

Mark Rabago says without the immigrant workers the economy would be in tatters.