Tuesday, April 01, 2008

CNMI Residency Issue

Dekada weighs in on ‘CNMI residency’ idea
By Emmanuel T. Erediano
Variety News Staff
April 1, 2008

THE granting of CNMI residency is now being suggested to a group of long-time guest workers, but some of them remain skeptical about it.

During the first years of existence, the commonwealth government granted CNMI residency status to a small group of nonresidents.

Dekada leader Boni Sagana said in an interview yesterday that attorney Deanne Siemer have met with them twice to discuss a CNMI residency status for long- time guest workers.

Siemer provides legal advice to the Department of Labor and is the wife of the governor’s special advisor, attorney Howard Willens.

Variety was unable to reach her for comment yesterday.

Sagana said the first meeting held in the office of their attorney Stephen Woodruf on March 11 and was attended by the leaders guest worker groups.

The second meeting was held at a restaurant along Beach Road last week and was attended by more than 30 guest workers and the leaders of guest worker groups like Dekada, UFO, MOVERS, the Filipino Contract Workers Association, and the Human Dignity Act Movement.

Sagana said they wanted to hear what Siemer had to say.

He said Siemer made it clear to them that she was not speaking on behalf of the CNMI government.

Sagana said the concern about the possible shortage of guest workers in the future was raised during the first meeting.

Siemer then mentioned the possibility of granting long-time guest workers CNMI residency status, but added that this can happen only through constitutional amendments, Sagana said.

During the second meeting, data regarding guest workers who have been in the CNMI for at least 10 years was presented to them.

Sagana said they were told that granting CNMI residency to 3,000 long-time guest workers may be acceptable.

He said Siemer assured them that in case this materializes, it will not affect the federalization of the CNMI immigration system.

But Human Dignity Movement leader Jerry Custodio said many guest workers remain doubtful about these efforts.

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