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  • By Pacific Island Times Staff

U.S. Congress addresses H2 visa crisis

The National Defense Authorization Act for 2018 recently passed by the U.S. House of Representatives includes a provision that seeks to grant the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services flexibility to reverse the denials of H2B visa petitions related to military construction and health care on Guam.

“A similar provision was included in the Senate Armed Services Committee’s version of the NDAA and differences will be reconciled in Conference Committee,” according to a press release from the Office Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo.

Bordallo hopes the visa provision averts further labor crisis amid plans for large defense construction related to military buildup on Guam. The $9.7 billion appropriation for military construction includes $354.654 million for Guam.

H.R. 2810 authorizes $621.5 billion for national defense programs as well as an additional $74.6 billion for overseas contingency operations.

Military constructions projects continue the ongoing progress on the Marine realignment as well as current operations which include the hardening of select military facilities.

Bordallo said the House also maintains her other proposals including requiring the Navy to convey the former Ship Repair Facility to the Guam Economic Development Authority, at no cost to the Government of Guam; requiring the Government Accountability Office to perform an independent review to determine if Agent Orange, or other dioxin-based herbicides, were ever transited through, or stored or used on Guam, using available documentation and stakeholder engagement; limiting the use of certain funds for the Office of the Secretary of the Navy until such time as a Request for Proposal to re-establish dry-docking capabilities in the Western Pacific has been issued; and requiring the Navy to address outstanding concerns regarding the clearance of Munitions and Explosives of Concern.

“I continue to have serious concerns by the use of OCO funding for non-contingency operations, but this is a good bill that provides our men and women in uniform and their families with the resources they need to fulfill their mission and keep our country safe,” Bordallo said.

“I am especially proud that the bill continues the progress we are making to move forward with the Marine Realignment and provide nearly $355 million for military construction projects in Guam.”

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