23 Mar 2009

CNMI again appeals against exclusion of Russia and China from waiver programme

5:58 am on 23 March 2009

The Northern Marianas governor, Benigno Fitial, has once again asked the Department of Homeland Security to consider allowing China and Russian tourists to enter the CNMI without a visa.

The 60-day comment period for the interim final rule ended last week.

The proposed regulations left out the two countries as part of the waiver program that will go into effect as part of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, which will extend US federal immigration laws to the CNMI.

The CNMI has sued the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor in an effort to stop the implementation of the law.

Governor Fitial says China and Russia, which were left off the list due to security concerns, should be included to help prevent an economic collapse in the islands' economy through a drop off in visitor numbers.

CNMI's government, through its Marianas Visitors Authority, has estimated the small island economy in the CNMI will lose 656 public sector jobs and 733 private sectors jobs if China and Russia are excluded in the proposed waiver.