RP group likely to grow further
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 04:10
by Therese Hart | Variety News Staff
FOREIGN workers hired under the H2B program to fill the workforce void during the military buildup are likely to stay behind and make Guam their home, according to the draft environmental impact statement.
Based on multiple interviews with construction contractors familiar with Guam projects, it is expected that a large proportion of H2B workers will originate from the Philippines.
Furthermore, since two-thirds of Guam’s foreign-born population is from the Philippines, it is expected that most “stay-behind” workers and related future population growth would originate from there, stated the report.
The immersion of the migrant worker into the Guam population will further encourage increased migration, resulting in a population boom on island, the study said.
Many working immigrants are younger people who have children over time, so that their population impacts accrue gradually, the buildup planners stated in the report.
Typical to socioeconomic impact assessment and assumed in this analysis is the assumption that migrant households have an average household size either like the place where they come, or the place where they are going, in this case, Guam, which captures the probable long term population size.
The “out-migration” of these populations is also an issue. The question that remains to be answered is whether the temporary H-2B worker population will leave Guam when their time of employment ends. The report assumes that the H-2B population will leave as military construction concludes. However, there is a concern that out-migration might not be so prompt.
While employers of H2B workers are required to prove that workers have left Guam once the particular project the worker was brought in for is completed, there are anecdotal reports of “stay-behind” H2B workers who have married Guam residents and in that way become permanent residents.
There are also concerns that migrants from freely associated states and the CNMI who come to Guam for construction-period jobs but either do not become employed or lose those jobs may stay on Guam as well, according to the report.
FAS and CNMI migrants have the status of U.S. citizens and can migrate within the U.S. without constraint. Developing an estimated number of “stay-behind” H2B workers is problematic because the factors involved are each difficult to measure and produce ambiguous results. Nonetheless, studies do show that stay-behind workers can be expected.
Finally, the Guam Department of Labor has concerns that immigration flows stemming from temporary workers can generate more immigrants than there were visas originally allocated.
It was also noted that U.S. immigration policy can inherently lead to increased immigration over-time, wherein family members apply to have relatives immigrate, increasing the number of immigrants.