The new law includes U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan’s language extending for another five years the provision barring claims of asylum from within the Northern Marianas which has helped assure that tourists from China can come to the islands without the need of a visa. Sablan’s language also keeps in place an exemption from the cap on the number of H visas that can be issued for the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam. Contractors on Guam asked for Sablan’s help because short-term, H visa workers will be needed for upcoming military construction on that island. Resort developers in the Northern Marianas, such as the Best Sunshine casino licensee, are likely to require large numbers of temporary construction workers, too, Sablan said.
H.R. 83 extends for another five years certain provisions of the 2008 Consolidated Natural Resources Act or the federalization law. One bars claims of asylum from within the Northern Marianas and has helped assure that tourists from China can come to the islands without need of a visa. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that without Sablan’s bill, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services would have to spend $16 million to process asylum claims or end the current system of entry for Chinese tourists.
Legislation instructing the U.S. Interior Department to study whether areas of Rota should be designated as part of the National Park system is on its way to President Obama for his signature, according to U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan. “Creating a Rota National Park will still require active participation by the people of Rota, when the study moves forward over the next five years or so. But adding the National Park brand to Rota has the potential to make the island an international destination for tourists, a game changer for Rota’s economy.”
Very good news for people on Saipan, who get help from the federal government to feed their families: their food stamp benefit will go up 16 percent on January 1. For an average family of four that is an increase from $444 a month to $515. This follows increases for Rota, the Northern Islands, and Tinian in May to reflect the higher cost of food on those islands. But there was still money left over from previous years’ grants, so I have been encouraging the Commonwealth and the Agriculture Department to raise benefits for Saipan, too.