Saturday, May 03, 2008

Federalization Now With Bush

Federalization bill now with Bush
The Saipan Tribune

The omnibus bill that extends federal immigration laws to the Northern Marianas is now with President Bush and it is expected to be signed within the next 10 days.

According to a status report on S.2739, the U.S. Congress' website states that the measure, officially called the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, was presented to the President on May 1 (Friday, Saipan time).

The bill authorizes certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, and the Department of Energy, extends immigration laws to the CNMI, and amends the Compact of Free Association. It also gives the CNMI a non-voting delegate to Congress

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and introduced on March 10, 2008. It passed the U.S. Senate on April 10, 2008, on a vote of 91 - 4.

The U.S. House passed it on April 29, 2008, on a vote of 291 - 117, and was cleared for the White House that same day.

It was presented to President Bush on May 1, 2008.

The Fitial administration and the private sector have warned that the bill would further hurt the CNMI’s struggling economy. They believe that a federalized immigration system would make it difficult for the CNMI to hire alien workers to fill jobs on the islands. They also fear the CNMI will lose its edge as a destination for Russian and Chinese tourists.

Proponents of the immigration measure had hailed the passage of the bill.

Local business groups have committed to working with the administration and the federal government in the education effort and in the drafting the implementing rules and regulations.

“We need to think as practically as possible about this, and business people can help think things through. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us,” said Hotel Association of the NMI chair Lynn Knight in a previous interview.

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