CNMI delegate says lobbyists want access for 35,000 foreign workers

7:59 am on 26 November 2015

The Northern Marianas delegate to the US Congress says business lobbyists are trying to get allowances for up to 35,000 foreign nationals' employment as contract workers in the CNMI.

Gregorio Kilili Sablan told the Saipan Tribune demand would amount to about 65 percent of the CNMI's population and result in irrevocable changes to the Commonwealth.

Saipan, CNMI

Saipan, CNMI Photo: Supplied

In October, the federal government set the annual limit for contract worker permits for next fiscal year at 12,999, a drop of 1,000 from last year.

Federal immigration officials are looking to phase out the contract worker programme which federal law mandates an end in 2019.

Mr Sablan says there have been talks in Washington DC about increasing the number of workers to as many as 35,000.

He says he is aware of at least one casino that has retained lobbyists in Washington DC to work on both the contract workers and the Chinese visa-waiver programme.