In response to President Donald Trump's recent controversial immigrant ban, Guam Del. Madeleine Bordallo has written to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, outlining her concerns that any additional executive orders of this kind could negatively impact Guam.
In a letter issued Feb. 1, Bordallo stated her concern "that another order without sufficient clarification could have detrimental impacts on Guam's workforce, which is already experiencing labor shortages impacting major military construction projects associated with the modernization of U.S. military force posture in the region."
Bordallo pointed to the ongoing reassignment of nearly 10,000 Marines from Okinawa throughout the Pacific, 5,000 of which are expected to arrive on Guam over the next five years.
With construction of a new Marine Corps Base on the horizon, Guam has "experienced a drastic reversal" in federal approval of H-2B temporary work visas, which is having an economic impact on island businesses.
"Because of our remote location and limited indigenous workforce, Guam has relied on off-island workers to support our industries, in particular the military construction, health care and tourism industries. The rash of denials not only jeopardizes our military posture in the region but also the economic well-being of our island," Bordallo wrote. "We cannot let the past failures of implementing the H-2B visa program on Guam be the rationale for continued denials."
Bordallo asserted that "it is still within United States Citizenship and Immigration Services’ authority to issue internal guidance to the California adjudication office for them to take a more common sense approach to providing H-2B renewals."
"It is critical that we improve the renewal rates for H-2B visas on Guam so that important projects can move forward and health care services can be restored to provide the necessary care to our people on Guam," Bordallo wrote. "I was frustrated with the lack of action in the previous Administration and hope that new leadership can take a fresh approach to this challenging problem."