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Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Coordiunated Federal Decisions and Additional Data Are Needed to Manage Potential Economic Impact of Applying U.S. Immigration Law: Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, Co
David Gootnick (au)
Statement of David Gootnick, Dir., International Affairs and Trade, GAO, discussing GAO’s work on factors that will affect the potential economic impact of implementing the legislation applying U.S. immigration law to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Although subject to most U.S. laws, the CNMI has administered its own immigration system since 1978, under the terms of its 1976 Covenant with the U.S. The CNMI has applied this flexibility to admit substantial numbers of foreign workers through a permit program for non-U.S. citizens (noncitizens) entering the CNMI. In 2005, these workers represented a majority of the CNMI labor force and outnumbered U.S. citizens in most industries, including garment manufacturing and tourism, which have been central to the CNMI's economy. The CNMI also has admitted tourists under its own entry permit and entry permit waiver programs and has provided various types of admission to foreign investors. As GAO reported previously, the CNMI faces serious economic challenges, including the decline of garment manufacturing and fluctuations in tourism. The recent immigration legislation amends the U.S.-CNMI Covenant to establish fed. control of CNMI immigration and includes several provisions affecting foreign workers and investors in the CNMI during a transition period that ends in 2014. This testimony summarizes findings from GAO’s report, issued in Aug. 2008, examining factors that will affect the potential impact of the legislation's implementation on the CNMI's labor market, particularly foreign workers; on its tourism sector; and on foreign investment in the CNMI. Gao’s report also included recommendations to the heads of the agencies responsible for implementing the legislation. Illus.
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