I heard a rumor today that S.2739 had passed the House, bringing us one step closer to the wonderful world of U.S. Immigration and Labor laws. Not true, of course, but it made me decide to tie a string around my blog with the box in the upper left of this page. We won't be fooled again.
A salesman friend told me the story; we've been having a running conversation about the feds for about 18 months and he hears some hilarious hokum on the coconut telegraph. My view: he was hearing tales from liars or dreamers. Wishful thinking.
He'd even heard that illegal ('Out of Status' in U.S. newspeak) workers would get a break as soon as the bill was signed. That was my chance to be boring at great length about existing contracts, transition periods and the arcana of proposing and finally promulgating regulations. I predicted a complicated and uncertain time for legal workers. When his eyes unglazed, I said the others had no chance: it wasn't in the bill and the No Amnesty crowd in the mainland would crucify anyone who added it to the regulations.
The only prediction I would make at this point is that nobody will like what INS, Labor and their pals come up with. Not enough for guest workers, too much for large businesses and a paperwork blizzard for small businesses. Large processing fees. Residents will have to wait a year, or five, for things to settle down. More pocket money, sure, but energy costs are forcing businesses to raise prices and higher labor costs just add a percentage to that percentage. Expect to run if you want to stay even.
Think of it as methadone, weaning the CNMI from its addiction to unlimited cheap labor.
Nobody's Fault But Mine
Oh, I ran across John Bowe's website while I was checking on the bill. You might remember him as the author of Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the New Global Economy. I recommend the book, the Saipan section is pretty good. If you haven't bought or borrowed it you can get a pretty good synopsis by puttering around in the stories and links.
And...an update: over on Unheard No More there's a link that says there will be a vote on S.2739 next Tuesday (Wednesday afternoon here).