19 Aug 2013

Chamber of Commerce says foreign workers essential to CNMI economy

6:25 am on 19 August 2013

The president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce says the United States needs to recognise that the CNMI will never have a sufficient workforce base if foreign workers aren't able to remain in the territory.

The CNMI government has asked the US Department of Labour to extend the immigration transition period, which is due to expire at the end of next year, by five years.

Otherwise 15,000 foreign workers plus their dependents would have to leave the territory, which has a total population of around 54,000.

The president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce Alex Sablan says if the country lost those workers there would be an economic meltdown.

"What we really need Congress to accept is that unless there is a miraculous migration of US mainlanders to the Commonwealth in the next few years we will never have a sufficient local US citizen workforce base in the Commonwealth that is sufficient to meet our economic needs."

Alex Sablan says he supports the recently passed US Senate Immigration Reform Bill which provides a pathway to citizenship to foreign workers in the CNMI.