A Good Court Ruling on Alien Workers Coming from an Unexpected Place

By David North on December 16, 2019

The Department of Homeland Security's usual "let 'em all in" policy regarding foreign workers on Guam and on the nearby Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) has been reported here more than once in the past, but that may be changing for the better.

According to a recent article in the Marianas Variety, DHS turned down a request from some Guam employers who have routinely been granted H-2B workers in the past, the employers sued to reverse the order, and a federal district court judge then ruled in favor of the department's action.

The article reported:

A federal judge has said she cannot order U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to continue an apparent past practice of "rubber-stamping" petitions for foreign workers under the H-2B visa program.

The judge is Frances Tydingco-Gatewood; the H-2B program is for temporary, non-skilled, non-agricultural work, and has been used in these islands as an all-but-permanent arrangement often involving workers from the Philippines. The islands' employers have a strong preference for non-island workers (they are less expensive and more indentured) and the islands' citizens have a lower labor force participation rate than on the Mainland. (I spent a couple of years with the little segment of the U.S. Department of the Interior which deals with the islands.)

The article continued:

USCIS had previously argued some petitions for foreign labor were previously approved despite a lack of compliance with certain requirements, including that the hiring of foreign workers should only be a temporary rather than a recurring practice.

The agency got that one right. So did the judge.