DoD to help NMI address workforce issues

TINIAN — Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Basing Allison Sands said the Pentagon recognizes the importance of the CW issue to the CNMI, and will help the islands address its workforce issues.

Sands was here on Tuesday with Rear Adm. Shoshana Chatfield, Joint Region Marianas commander, to meet with CNMI, Tinian and Commonwealth Ports Authority officials, including Gov. Ralph Torres.

“We understand the CNMI’s reliance on [CWs] and we will try to educate the [other federal] entities and policy-makers, to make them understand the issue and the importance of [these] workers to the stability of the CNMI’s economy and growth,” Sands said during the meeting with CNMI officials.

Sands said she will help advocate for the CNMI.

In an interview, the governor said he also met with Sands, other Defense and U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services officials in Washington, D.C. regarding the CW cap for fiscal year 2018 which has yet to be announced. FY 2018 started on Oct. 1, 2017.

“They are assisting us with our CW issue and they said they will look into it,” Torres said, referring to the federal officials he met in the nation’s capital. “We asked for a minimal reduction [in the CW cap] and not by 3,000. I emphasized that any big reduction will be devastating to our economy. It was a concern for us when we heard a proposal to reduce the CW cap by 3,000 because it will cost the CNMI $140 million. We emphasized to them the importance of minimal reduction. I asked for a minimal reduction so it will not impact our continued efforts to improve the economy.”

Torres thanked Sands for advocating for the CNMI.

Sands, for her part, said “we recognize that CW is a very important issue and does have an impact on the Department of Defense. The stability of the economy here has an impact on our ability to meet our national security objectives in the region so although the Department of Defense does not normally get involved directly with immigration policies we are trying to work with those who do to try to find a way that is equitable to all.”

The current CW cap is 12,998. Unless renewed by the U.S. Congress, the federal CW program will end on Dec. 31, 2019.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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