Washington International Law Journal


After voluntarily entering into a political union with the United States, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (“CNMI”) administered its own immigration system and allowed thousands of guest workers to enter and remain indefinitely. Guest workers contributed to the exponential growth of the CNMI economy during the 1980s and 1990s. However, labor and human rights abuses under this system led to public outrage in the mainland United States, prompting numerous attempts to bring the CNMI within the jurisdiction of federal immigration law. Federalization occurred after Congress passed the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (“CNRA”). Although well intentioned, the existing federalization program places thousands of legal guest workers in an extremely precarious situation. This comment argues that Congress should pass additional legislation granting permanent resident status to long-term CNMI guest workers.

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