U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan said he is trying to garner support in the U.S. Congress for his bill, H.R. 560, which proposes to grant CNMI-only permanent resident status to qualified long-term guest workers and foreign investors in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
In an interview on Thursday, Sablan told Variety that H.R. 560 “is in the queue.”
The bill was placed on the Union Calendar (Calendar No. 296) on Jan. 10.
Under suspension of rules, he said, the House leadership decides which legislation to bring to the floor.
“I’m trying to build enough support so that it will pass the House and then, after it passes the House we’ve got to work from the Senate. I’m working on it, so that it comes to the floor and gets enough support to pass it in the House,” Sablan said.
Sablan caucuses with the Democrats, who hold a majority of the U.S. House seats, but the Republicans control the U.S. Senate.
Noting that H.R. 560 is an immigration bill, Sablan said there is Republican opposition to it.
He said he is working with the U.S. House leadership, adding that “they know that there’s urgency to this as far as I’m concerned, so I’m trying to convince them to bring it to the floor.”
The bill’s goal, he earlier said, is to move long-term workers out of the CW program and give them the ability to live and work in the Marianas for as long as they want. “We are taking a burden off the businesses they work for that have had to apply for CW permits year after year,” Sablan added.
“My bill gives the businesses certainty and stabilizes our labor market in a way that will have positive economic effects going forward,” he said.
If it becomes law, the bill will provide improved status to more than 2,875 long-term guest workers and 56 foreign investors in the CNMI.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres has expressed support for the bill’s passage.