News/US/CNMI: Islands chief opposes immigration laws

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Subject: News/US/CNMI: Islands chief opposes immigration laws
From: Melanie Orhant (
Date: Fri Oct 01 1999 - 13:58:24 EDT

Comment: Having been to the CNMI to carry out an investigation for the
Global Survival Network (contact for information), I
think that the CNMI should no longer have control over their own
immigration. It's a disgrace that American's allow bonded, trafficked,
forced labor to be carried out on American land without doing anything. I
spoke with many trafficking victims in the CNMI and am filled with sadness
to know that trafficking can be so blantant and common in the CNMI. The
economic "sucess" (if we can call it that) of the CNMI has been carried out
on the nibble fingers of trafficked people!


Islands chief opposes immigration laws
Says lack of labor would hurt Northern Marianas' economy
Audrey Hudson
The Washington Times, September 15, 1999

Extending federal immigration laws to the Commonwealth of the Northern
Mariana Islands (CNMI) would cripple the U.S. territory, the governor of
the islands told a Senate committee yesterday.

Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Committee that a bill [S. 1052] under consideration to extend those laws
would "destroy" their already fragile economy.

The proposed legislation was prompted by reports of abuse of immigrant
labor and sweatshop conditions in the Pacific islands.

Island officials say many problems have long been corrected and they are
working to limit the number of immigrants to the islands.

The bill, sponsored by Chairman Frank H. Murkowski, Alaska Republican,
directs the attorney general to determine if the islands have the
institutional capability to administer an effective immigration system and
whether the government has demonstrated a genuine commitment to enforcing
the system.

The legislation also makes special provisions to ensure that the tourism
and construction industries have access to foreign workers, if necessary.

Mr. Murkowski said he has heard reports of exploitation of Bangladeshi and
Nepalese workers, and of Russian women who were smuggled into Saipan to
perform in clubs.

"I do think there has been an effort by the governor to take corrective
action. Some of the remedial actions, such as eliminating importation of
Bangladesh workers for security jobs, suggest a commitment to deal with
problems, but the solutions seem to suggest limitations in local
capability," Mr. Murkowski said.

He offered the governor the opportunity to submit his own language for
consideration of a compromise to help the CNMI deal with their immigration

The House Resources Committee will hold a hearing Thursday [11 a.m., 1324
Longworth HOB] to discuss oversight of federal laws and federal funding for
the islands as it relates to immigration and labor.

Melanie Orhant

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