Special Representatives Discuss Immigration, Labor, and
Proposed Military Activities in CNMI at White House Meeting
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 6, 2016) – In all-day meetings at the White House today, Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas Esther Kia’aina, Special Representative for the United States, began the first in a series of official consultations with Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) Governor Ralph DLG. Torres, the Special Representative for the CNMI. Known as 902 Consultations, the discussions are authorized by Section 902 of the Covenant to Establish the CNMI in Political Union with the United States of America, which provides that the Government of the United States and the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands will consult regularly on all matters affecting the relationship between them, not less frequently than every ten years.
Other CNMI team members include Secretary of Labor Edith E. Deleon Guerrero and Secretary of Public Lands Marianne C. Teregeyo. In addition to Assistant Secretary Kia’aina, the U.S. team includes Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy Seth Stodder and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Basing Peter J. Potochney, who is also performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Energy, Installations and Environment.
The U.S. and CNMI Special Representatives agreed that the scope of consultations will focus on the two issues identified by the CNMI: 1) the expiration of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program in 2019; and 2) the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) proposed military activities in the CNMI.
The Special Representatives also agreed that the 902 Consultations will include site visits in the Northern Mariana Islands and subsequent official consultations in August, September and October. The process will culminate in a Final Report to the President in December.
“I am pleased that the CNMI Governor Torres and other members of his team were able to present position papers on issues important to the leaders and people of the Northern Mariana Islands. The objective of these 902 Consultations is to provide an avenue for high level discussions on the issues of immigration, labor, and U.S. national security interests between U.S. and CNMI officials,” said U.S. Special Representative Kia’aina.
“The Covenant Agreement between the CNMI and the United States Government is a significant and unique obligation within the American political landscape requiring open communication and real cooperation,” said CNMI Special Representative Torres. “I sincerely appreciate President Obama’s agreement to start and the work of his Special Representative Esther Kia’aina in opening these discussions at this important time in the history of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. We look forward to continuing both the dialogue and search for ways to improve our relationship with the United States. "
In 1986, the Covenant to Establish the CNMI in Political Union with the United States of America was fully implemented and is the document that governs U.S. relations with the CNMI. The last 902 Consultations occurred in 2007, nearly nine years ago.