DOL says more than half of 500 surveyed companies affected by CW cap

THE CNMI Department of Labor surveyed 500 companies in the commonwealth and of this number, more than half were affected by the CW cap imposed by U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services.

DOL Secretary Vicky Benavente said CW applications or renewal petitions of the affected companies were denied by USCIS.

“We are still trying to get more numbers,” she said in an interview, referring to the islands’ workforce crisis.

Benavente said they will present these data to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources when it conducts a hearing on the CW bill Feb. 6.

She is leaving on Saturday for Washington, D.C. to accompany Gov. Ralph D.L.G. Torres who is set to appear before the committee and speak in support of the bill, S. 2325, which was introduced by the committee chairwoman, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

Ultimately, Benavente said, “it’s not about numbers — it’s about the lives of people who are affected by our economy. We are still hopeful that these things will be resolved.”

The governor, for his part, said he will ask U.S. lawmakers especially Senator Murkowski, to include the CNMI DOL in the process of documenting and certifying workers on CW permits.

Under the bill, only the U.S. DOL and the CNMI governor are part of the process.

“Discussions are ongoing,” Torres said, “and we will continue to air our concerns and work on other provisions that we think are important. We will continue to have a dialogue with the federal government.”

Joining the governor on the trip to the nation’s capital are Senate President Arnold Palacios and some members of the business community.

The governor is leaving the island on Saturday.

Source: Marianas Variety :

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