A Bit of Good News About an Obscure Place from an Obscure Agency

By David North on May 22, 2019

It's good immigration news when a government agency of any kind turns down a massive request for foreign workers anywhere under the U.S. flag.

I must admit that this case involves an obscure location and an obscure agency; they are, respectively: Saipan (an island north of Guam in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) and the U.S. Department of Labor's Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (BALCA).

And the request was a massive one for the small island; a Hong Kong Company wanted to import 620 workers to build and maybe operate (that part is fuzzy) a new Hilton resort hotel; the workers presumably would be from China. Since there are only 55,240 inhabitants of the island, 620 would mean more than 1 percent of the population.

It is like Amazon or Google sending in an order for 3,267,667 foreign workers to be employed in the 50 states.

Further, Saipan has a lower level of workforce participation than the Mainland, where one out of nine adult men of prime working age is neither working nor looking for work.

In short, Saipan has a really loose labor market, and the 620 would have made it more so.

The decision was reported by Law360, behind a partial paywall.

The company, a new one, is called American Sinopan LLC (a play on China and Saipan). The Administrative Law Judge is Steven Berlin, and he ruled that the applicant had not made it clear that this was an application for temporary workers. Apparently a DoL staffer had rejected the initial request, and the firm appealed to BALCA.

In a sense, this is a small extension of a global phenomenon – when the Chinese invest in foreign places, they want to bring their own set of (docile and inexpensive) workers with them.

May Judge Berlin not be overruled on appeal, if there is one!