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Illegal recruitment of foreign workers bad for tourism industry

MARIANAS Visitors Authority board chairwoman and T-Galleria/DFS Saipan president Marian Aldan-Pierce said employers bringing in “tourists” to work in the CNMI are harming the tourism industry.

“We want to make sure that when people come in as tourists they are really here as tourists and not working — that’s what we should be concerned about now,” she said in an interview on Friday while she observed the protest action staged by construction workers from China who said they were here on tourist visas and that they had not been paid for three months.

The workers are employees of MCC International, a contractor of Saipan casino investor Imperial Pacific International which is constructing its casino-hotel in Garapan.

Marianas Visitors Authority board chairwoman and T Galleria/DFS Saipan president Marian Aldan-Pierce gestures as she talks with Rep. Ed Propst while they observe the protest action staged by the casino construction workers who said they are here on tourist visas, and that they have not been paid for three months. Photo by Junhan B. Todiño

While the workers were staging their protest, Aldan-Pierce said she saw CNMI Secretary of Labor Edith Deleon Guerrero talking with some of the workers so Aldan-Pierce asked one of her Chinese-speaking employees to act as Deleon Guerrero’s interpreter.

Aldan-Pierce said if the problem with illegal workers persists, the U.S. government may end the CNMI visa-waiver program for Chinese and Russian tourists.

In the meantime, she said the CNMI government and the local community will continue to assist the workers even though it is now the U.S. government that controls local immigration.

“Unfortunately things like this do happen. But this is not what we want our tiny islands to be known for,” she added.

Source: Marianas Variety : http://www.mvariety.com/cnmi/cnmi-news/local/94558-illegal-recruitment-of-foreign-workers-bad-for-tourism-industry

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