Legal documents, contracts, notes, videos, and photographs document the findings. For privacy purposesand to protect the guest workers from retaliation, hereinafter, the job category and nationality willdescribe the worker.
FINDINGSPoverty and Living Conditions
The CNMI labor and immigration laws have created a two-tiered society in the CNMI. Residents are primarily employed by the local government in the islands’ highest paying jobs, while foreign contractworkers earn poverty-level wages in the bottom tier. According to the August 4, 2008 GAO report, themedian household income in the CNMI fell from $22,898 in 2000 to $17,138 in 2004, and the per capitaincome in the CNMI decreased from $9,151 in 2000 to $6,178 in 2004.
Over 46 percent of households inthe CNMI are earning below the poverty rate, as compared to less than 13 percent of households in theU.S. mainland earning below the poverty rate. The child poverty rate exceeds 50% in three of Saipan’sdistricts.
The poverty is evidenced in ramshackle housing, abandoned garment factories, and boarded up businesseson Saipan. Rota has become a virtual ghost town as businesses have closed and Rotanese families havemoved to the mainland or Guam seeking work and greener pastures. Karidat, a social-services agency that provides food and shelter for the needy, had the largest increase in clients in ten years in 2007 with 4515clients.The Consumer Price Index for the period of July to September 2008 rose to 120.2 compared to 113.8 for the same period in 2007, according to latest data from the Department of Commerce.
Those figuresreflect a 14.7 index increase in housing and utilities, a 9.6 index increase in food, and a 3.4 index increasein medical care.The economy of the CNMI is in shambles. Guest workers and residents alike are suffering from the highcost of gasoline, commodities, and the highest utilities rates anywhere on U.S. soil.
Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Managing Potential Economic Impact of Applying U.S.Immigration Law Requires Coordinated Federal Decisions and Additional Data, by the U.S. GovernmentAccountability Office (GAO), August 4, 2008.
'CNMI yet to achieve same status as US',
by Rianne Pangelinan-Brown, January 19, 2008.
COMPARED TO JULY-SEPTEMBER 2007 Consumer prices rise in Q3
, by Kristi Eaton, November 15, 2008.