THOUSANDS of families of guest workers with American children born here are anxiously awaiting the implementation of the federalization law and the judge’s decision in Washington, D.C. regarding the governor’s lawsuit challenging the statute.
Lauri B. Ogumoro, shelter manager of Karidat, a church-based social service group, said everybody knows that change is coming but how it will affect them is still unclear.
Karidat, with the Catholic Legal Immigration Inc., or CLINIC, is sponsoring a two-day legal education training about the coming changes in the CNMI immigration system with emphasis on family-based immigration.
“In Karidat, we see a lot of people and they have a lot of questions. Everybody in the community right now doesn’t know what’s going to happen but we all know that change is coming. Everybody wants to know how it’s going to affect them,” she told the Variety.
“So our idea was that the more legal practitioners in the community have the legal information, the better for the rest of the community because they will have more ideas and a little bit of information to pass to the community,” she added
Thousands of guest workers have established their families in the CNMI over the years.
Some have adult children who can or have petitioned them under the family-based immigration program.
Others with minor children, however, fear their families might be separated because they have no permanent status to stay on the islands.
Peggy Gleason of CLINIC, who practices law in Washington, D.C., said the community should be involved in drafting the two specific regulations about foreign workers and investors.
“We want to make sure that everyone stays here legally,” said Gleason in an interview. “It seems that, among other things, it’s good that people get involved now. They are writing regulations on the statute and those are coming out before November so they can have a say on how it’s interpreted.”
She said there is a two-year grace period for foreign workers with children to stay on island, provided, they have a legal status.
“The way the statute is written, you must have a lawful status in the CNMI. If your employer [shuts down’ then you don’t have a visa [a legal status],” she added.
She noted that there is a provision in the federalization law that requires the U.S. Congress to revisit the statute’s impact on the CNMI and make recommendations.
“Two years after the enactment [last year], Congress has to know exactly how many guest workers there are and make recommendations what should be done,” she said.