We Have Created Deep and Lasting Relationships with Washington

SAIPAN, Dec 18, 2020:: Governor Torres was the first Governor in CNMI history to lead a successful 902 consultation with the United States, which led to the first-ever 902 report approved by the President and submitted to Congress.

Section 902 of the Covenant provides that the Government of the United States and the Government of the Northern Mariana Islands “will designate special representatives to meet and consider in good faith such issues affecting the relationship between the Northern Mariana Islands and the United States as may be designated by either Government and to make a report and recommendations with respect thereto.” These intermittent discussions between the United States and the CNMI have become known as 902 Consultations.

In 2016, the CNMI finalized its first 902 report approved by the President and submitted to Congress. In this report, two issues affecting the CNMI were discussed. The first issue involved immigration and labor matters affecting the growth potential of the CNMI economy, including the approaching expiration of the CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program on December 31, 2019. The second issue concerned proposed and ongoing military activities within the Northern Mariana Islands and their cumulative effect upon CNMI’s natural resources, economy, and quality of life for its residents. This report eventually led to the enactment of the NMI US Workforce Act of 2018, which raised the number of CW visas to 13,000, extended the CW permit program through 2029, and further strengthened ongoing local initiatives to develop the CNMI’s US workforce.

The 902 report was the culmination of our islands’ strongest effort to advocate for the needs of our economy and the potential for even greater opportunity for our US workers. Governor Torres led constructive conversations with the CNMI business community, Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and President Donald J. Trump to protect the CNMI economy.

Through negotiations with the US Department of Defense in the 902 process, Governor Torres demonstrated that the CNMI are a patriotic people who claim our right to be heard in shaping national policy. It was through these constructive conversations at the federal level, that the CNMI was able to persuade DoD to reconsider military use plans that would harm Tinian and Pagan.
Even while the Torres administration has defended our islands from harm, we have opened them to benefit. The CNMI has created deep and lasting relationships with partners in Washington D.C., and these relationships provide cooperation with our community.

The Tinian Divert and Exercises facility is a project that will benefit the people of Tinian as well as the needs of our nation. We can also ensure the benefits of improved roads, facilities, and upgrades to the Tinian Health Care Center. Governor Torres, Mayor JP San Nicolas, Mayor Edwin P. Aldan, and Tinian leadership worked closely together over the last several years to fulfill promises made by the US to Tinian.

Our national relationships are hard earned, and the Torres-Palacios administration will foster them for the best interest of the CNMI. These relationships have allowed us to tell our story – the real story – of our islands.