Texas Judge Delays Executive Immigration Actions

February 17, 2015

Texas Federal Judge Judge Andrew S. Hanen of Federal District Court in Brownsville, Texas, ruled that President Obama's executive actions exceeded his authority.

In his 123 page opinion  Hanen stated that the failure of DHS to allow public comment on the new policies violated the law.

President Obama said that the administration will appeal the court order, which was scheduled to go into affect tomorrow.

Twenty-five states joined the Texas lawsuit, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Statement by Secretary Jeh C. Johnson Concerning the District Court’s Ruling Concerning DAPA and DACA 
I strongly disagree with Judge Hanen’s decision to temporarily enjoin implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction; in the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it. Accordingly, the Department of Homeland Security will not begin accepting requests for the expansion of DACA tomorrow, February 18, as originally planned. Until further notice, we will also suspend the plan to accept requests for DAPA. 
The Department of Justice, legal scholars, immigration experts and even other courts have said that our actions are well within our legal authority. Our actions will also benefit the economy and promote law enforcement. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do. 
It is important to emphasize what the District Court’s order does not affect. The Court’s order does not affect the existing DACA. Individuals may continue to come forward and request initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA pursuant to the guidelines established in 2012. 
Nor does the Court’s order affect this Department’s ability to set and implement enforcement priorities. The priorities established in my November 20, 2014 memorandum entitled “Policies for the Apprehension, Detention and Removal of Undocumented Immigrants” remain in full force and effect. Pursuant to those enforcement priorities, we continue to prioritize public safety, national security, and border security. I am pleased that an increasing percentage of removals each year are of those convicted of crimes. I am also pleased that, due in large part to our investments in and prioritization of border security, apprehensions at the southern border – a large indicator of total attempts to cross the border illegally -- are now at the lowest levels in years.

What the California Senate Did

February 15, 2015

In an unanimous, bipartisan vote, the California State Senate passed a resolution "to be sent to the President and the Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Majority Leader of the Senate, and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States."

The resolution calls for "Congress and the President of the United States to work together to create a comprehensive and workable approach to reform the nation's immigration system according to specified principles." It was written by Republican Senator Andy Vidak.

The language of the resolution is in sharp contrast from the anti-immigrant trash talk that spews from the mouths of too many vocal Republican and Tea Party anti-immigrant haters.  The resolution recognizes the economic contribution of the immigrants.  It not only calls for comprehensive immigration reform, but for immigration reform that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented aliens.

Will the hardline Republican members of the U.S. Congress take notice? That is unlikely since immigration reform does not fit into their agenda. Their is only one item on their agenda – that is to oppose anything that President Obama supports and support anything that he opposes.

Still the resolution is significant. It comes from the state that has the most undocumented immigrants. For anyone who wants to listen its message is clear.

The Resolution:

     WHEREAS, This country was built by immigrants seeking a better life; and        WHEREAS, Estimates suggest that there are 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the shadows in the United States, including millions of children brought to this country undocumented who have grown up here and call the United States home, and who are suffering from our dysfunctional immigration policy; and
      WHEREAS, A logical and streamlined path to citizenship for individuals after they gain legal status would stimulate the economy by allowing these individuals to get college degrees and driver's licenses, buy homes, start new companies, and create legal, tax-paying jobs, affording them a chance at the American Dream; and
      WHEREAS, The United States Congress last enacted major immigration legislation more than 25 years ago; and
      WHEREAS, Since that time, fragmented attempts at immigration reform have failed to create the rational and effective systems needed to maintain international competitiveness. Whether in industries like agriculture, which requires large numbers of workers able to perform physically demanding tasks, or in industries like technology or health care, where the demand for employees with advanced degrees is projected to exceed supply within the next five years, immigration policy must be designed to respond to emerging labor needs in all sectors of the United States economy; and
      WHEREAS, Our national interests and security are not served by our outdated, inefficient, and slow-moving immigration system. Patchwork attempts to mend its deficiencies undermine our potential for prosperity and leave us vulnerable and unable to meet the needs of the modern world; and
     WHEREAS, Labor mobility is crucial to our economic prosperity and our country's recovery from the economic crisis. Yet our rigid, outdated immigration policies are making it difficult for our companies and our nation to compete. Information released in a study by the University of California, Los Angeles, states that legalizing the status of undocumented immigrants working and living in the United States would create around $1.5 trillion in additional gross domestic product growth over the next 10 years and increase wages for all workers. A study done by the University of California, Davis, indicates that the last large wave of immigrants, from 1990 to 2007, raised the income of a native-born American worker by an average of $5,000; and
       WHEREAS, California has the largest share of immigrants in the country. These immigrants are a vital and productive part of our state's economy and are active in a variety of industries, including technology, biotech, hospitality, agriculture, construction, services, transportation, and textiles. They also represent a large share of our new small business owners and create economic prosperity and needed jobs for everyone; and
      WHEREAS, Keeping these families, business owners, and hard workers in the shadows of society serves no one; and
      WHEREAS, Our state, for economic, social, health, security, and prosperity reasons, must support policies that allow individuals to become legal and enfranchised participants in our society and economy; and
      WHEREAS, Comprehensive immigration reform should include a reasonable and timely path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who are already living and working in the United States. It should also include comprehensive background checks, require demonstrated proficiency in English and payment of all current and back taxes, and have the flexibility to respond to emerging business trends; and
      WHEREAS, The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington, D.C., estimates that in 2012, the federal government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement, and since 2004, the number of United States Border Patrol agents has doubled; and
     WHEREAS, Increased enforcement has given the federal government the ability to prioritize the deportation of lawbreakers and dangerous individuals and to ensure our border's security. Nevertheless, this enforcement should not be done in an inhumane way; and
      WHEREAS, Immigration enforcement should continue to focus on criminals, not on hardworking immigrant families, and not at the expense of efficient trade with two of our top three economic partners; and
     WHEREAS, The United States loses large numbers of necessary, highly skilled workers due to the lengthy and complicated processes currently in place to get or keep a legal residency option; and
     WHEREAS, Reform should include an expedited process for those residing abroad and applying for legal visas. Additionally, reform should offer permanent residency opportunities to international students in American universities who are highly trained and in high demand, and in so doing avoid an intellectual vacuum after their graduation; and
     WHEREAS, Reform should recognize the societal and cultural benefits of keeping the family unit intact. The system should take into account special circumstances surrounding candidates for probationary legal status, such as those of minors who were brought to the country as children or workers whose labor is essential to maintain our country's competitiveness; now, therefore, be it be
     Resolved by the Senate and the Assembly of the State of California, jointly,
That the Legislature urges the President and the Congress of the United States to work together and create a comprehensive and workable approach to solving our nation's historically broken immigration system, using the principles described in this resolution; and be it further
      Resolved, That the Secretary of the Senate transmit copies of this resolution to the President and the Vice President of the United States, to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, to the Majority Leader of the Senate, and to each Senator and Representative from California in the Congress of the United States.

500 Tinian Dynasty Workers Sue Their Employer

February 4, 2015

Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008

Attorney Samuel Mok is representing over 500 Tinian Dynasty workers in a lawsuit filed in federal court on February 4, 2015 against Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investment (Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino) and Mega Stars Overseas Unlimited. The employees are seeking relief for fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, wrongful 13 termination.

The complaint states:
Defendants knew at least eighteen months before December 8, 2014 that their respective CW-l employment petitions were in jeopardy of being denied by virtue of numerous written warnings issued by the USCIS in the form of notices of intent to deny and notices of intent to revoke.  
However, defendants deliberately withheld such information from the plaintiffs out of fear they would stop working and transfer to new employers which would have effectively shut down business operations and ultimately cost the Tinian Dynasty a significant amount of money. 
Defendants also lied to workers about their legal status by falsely claiming they were still legally authorized to work notwithstanding the USCIS denial of their CW-l petitions in a self interested effort to keep the Tinian Dynasty fully staffed during a particularly critical period of time where defendant HKE was seeking to sublease its gaming and hotel interests to a foreign corporation called “Gain Millennia Limited”.
The complaint:


Two exhibits attached to the complaint make clear that the employer defrauded and lied to the employees.  Even though USCIS had notified the company that the CW-1 permits were denied, the company falsely told employees that they were in legal status to work.

The complaint details a letter sent to employees by Hong Kong Entertainment:
According to the January 19, 2015 letter, any worker who “disagreed” with defendant 18 HKE’s claim that it was “not unlawful” to return to work would be deemed to have “resigned” his/her job and processed out of the company. (Exhibit A) 
Additionally, defendant HIKE threatened to remove any worker deemed to have “resigned” from the pending administrative appeal filed with the USCIS. (Exhibit A) 
Defendant HKE’s use of such heavy handed tactics to bully employees back to work places the plaintiffs in the impossible position where they must choose between a) being fired for not  “agreeing” to work illegally and b) working illegally and risk getting deported for violating their status as well as jeopardizing their chances of obtaining future status. 
It is amazing that this was put in writing! Read the letter signed by HR Director Florine Hofschneider:

Mega Stars also misled the employees. A January 12, 2015 letter to employees from by Mega Stars chairman, Wai Chan, also misled employees and urged them to defy USCIS regulations and break the law by continuing to work. The letter:
Dear Colleagues, 
In these days I understand that everyone is concerned about the CW issue. It is a fact that it is so bothering because it threatens your legitimate working status in CNMI. Though that the employees filed a lawsuit in court to challenge USCIS’s decision for denying everyone’s CW status, and the company also filed the appeals within the dead line of 30 days from the denial letter date in Phoenix. These are the 2 things the company can do to protect both the company and all the employees within our allowed limitation. It is too early to see the results can turn our situation any better at this moment. 
However, I am still optimistic. I am optimistic not because I lack knowledge to assess the risk of the current situation or just simply ignore it.I am optimistic because I can see the people in CNMI are supporting us, and they want us to go on with our business. With an immediately passed joint resolution from the House of Representatives and The Senate 2 days before Christmas to request the USCIS to reconsider the denial of our CW petitions, we can see that we are not alone in this challenge and believe that USCIS would not ignore the domino effect caused by the shutdown of Tinian Dynasty. Though I understand that Tinian Dynasty has a record of delaying staff’s salary in the past and that is also one of the reasons by USCIS in the denial of our CW petitions. But that is no longer the case since I took over the management of Tinian Dynasty and you all know that is true. 
Another reason for the denial of your CW petition was the criminal case charged against Tinian Dynasty. According to our attorney that it is not appropriate for USCIS to deny our CW petitions at this point because the case has not gone to trial and there has not yet been any jury decision that the company is guilty or not guilty. The case should be finalized within the next two or three months as it set for trial on February 9, 2015. 
And today, what matter the most is, I will not give up! Currently I am asking my managers to concentrate in preparation of the upcoming events such as Baccarat Tournament and Poker Tournament. And we have to be ready for a very busy Chinese New Year. To do this we have to put our fears aside. In fact if you understand the truth, you will not be afraid to report for duty as usual. At this point you should also know that in the United States, courts recognize that the immigration laws do not provide for criminal punishment for non-United States citizens who are determined not to have the authorization to work. In the case of Arizona vs. Unites States, 132 S. Ct. 2492, 2504, 183 L. ED. 2d 351 (2012) the United States Supreme Court said that “Congress made a deliberate choice not to impose criminal penalties on aliens who seek, or engage in, unauthorized employment.” Instead, any criminal punishment for such a circumstance is imposed upon the employer. Remember I am the Chairman of the corporation to hire you and let you work under this situation, and I may suffer with tremendous fines and possible prison penalty. But I am still willing to continue working here and pursue all legal means to prevent the injustice USCIS is trying to inflict on you, Tinian and the company continue to support me and the company in this effort. 
Sincerely yours, 
Wai Chan
It's encouraging that an attorney filed this case. I hope that the employees win this lawsuit. They are victims of a self-serving employer who clearly deceived them. By withholding information on their immigration status, the employer put the nonresident workers at risk of deportation and jeopardized their ability to get other U.S. work permits or upgraded status in the future.

Four Charges Reinstated against Ex-Governor Fitial

February 2, 2015

Associate Judge David Wiseman has reinstated four of the corruption charges against Ex-Governor Benigno Fitial.

Wiseman's November  6, 2014 dismissal order ruled that the Office of the Public Auditor has no authority to file the charges against Fitial, who was no longer governor, but was a private citizen when the charges were filed. He stated that the CNMI Attorney General retains prosecutorial authority over such an action when the defendant is not currently in office. OPA filed 13 charges against Fitial.

The Marianas Variety reported:
In his seven-page order, Judge Wiseman said the charges conspiracy to commit theft of services, two counts of misconduct in public office, and theft of services “shall remain pending charges of adjudication,” referring to the “armed escort” extended to Buckingham from his hotel up to the restricted areas in the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

Dismissed without prejudice were charges involving former CNMI Department of Commerce Secretary Michael Ada’s contract of services related to the use of ARRA funds, the release of a female federal detainee from the CNMI Department of Corrections so she could give a massage to then-governor at his Gualo Rai residence to relieve what Fitial described as severe back pains on the early morning of Jan. 8, 2010, and the no-bid $190 million power-purchase agreement entered into between Fitial and Delaware-based Saipan Development LLC.

State of the Union: "Let's Turn the Page"

January 20, 2015

 President Obama's Sixth State of the Union Address focused on tax reform to benefit the struggling middle class, economic recovery, free community college, paid sick leave, raising the minimum wage and equal pay for women. He also called for better politics, reversing climate change, and a free and open Internet.

The President said:

At this moment — with a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production — we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. It’s now up to us to choose who we want to be over the next fifteen years, and for decades to come.

Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the effort?

Will we approach the world fearful and reactive, dragged into costly conflicts that strain our military and set back our standing? Or will we lead wisely, using all elements of our power to defeat new threats and protect our planet?

Will we allow ourselves to be sorted into factions and turned against one another — or will we recapture the sense of common purpose that has always propelled America forward?
We all know with a Republican Congress few items on the President's wish list will pass. Many bills that do pass, may receive a veto. The President threatened to veto bills that are anti-immigration, weaken health insurance or attempt to undo Wall Street regulations. The new Republican House passed an anti-immigration spending bill this month that would defund the President's November executive order. The President will veto it if it passes the Senate.

Republicans in the audience remained silent for the most part during the speech, except when the President said, "I've run my last campaign." Then they reacted. The President then went off script saying, "I know, because I won both of them." The Democrats applauded wildly.

The White House posted the entire State of the Union Address so people could read along. Read it here.

USCIS Information on November's Executive Action on Immigration

USCIS Answers Key Questions and Answers on DACA 
Q1: When will USCIS begin accepting applications related to these executive initiatives?
 A1: While USCIS is not accepting applications at this time, individuals who think they may be eligible for one or more of the new initiatives may prepare now by gathering documentation that establishes factors such as their:
  • Identity; 
  • Relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident; 
  • and Continuous residence in the United States over the last five years or more. 
USCIS expects to begin accepting applications for the:
  •  Expanded DACA program approximately 90 days after the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement; 
  • and Deferred action for parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents) approximately 180 days after the President’s November 20, 2014, announcement. 
Others programs will be implemented after new guidance and regulations are issued.

We strongly encourage you to subscribe to receive an email whenever additional information is available on the USCIS website. Remember that the only way to get official information is directly from USCIS. Unauthorized practitioners of immigration law may try to take advantage of you by charging a fee to submit forms to USCIS on your behalf or by claiming to provide other special access or expedited services which do not exist. To learn how to get the right immigration help, visit www.uscis.gov/avoidscams for tips on filing forms, reporting scams and finding accredited legal services.

 Q2: How many individuals does USCIS expect will apply?
 A2: Preliminary estimates show that roughly 4.9 million individuals may be eligible for the initiatives announced by the President. However, there is no way to predict with certainty how many individuals will apply. USCIS will decide applications on a case-by-case basis and encourages as many people as possible to consider these new initiatives. During the first two years of DACA, approximately 60 percent of potentially eligible individuals came forward. However, given differences among the population eligible for these initiatives and DACA, actual participation rates may vary.

 Q3: Will there be a cutoff date for individuals to apply?
 A3: The initiatives do not include deadlines. Nevertheless, USCIS encourages all eligible individuals to carefully review each initiative and, once the initiative becomes available, make a decision as soon as possible about whether to apply. 

Q4: How long will applicants have to wait for a decision on their application?
 A4: The timeframe for completing this new pending workload depends on a variety of factors. USCIS will be working to process applications as expeditiously as possible while maintaining program integrity and customer service. Our aim is to complete all applications received by the end of next year before the end of 2016, consistent with our target processing time of completing review of applications within approximately one year of receipt. In addition, USCIS will provide each applicant with notification of receipt of their application within 60 days of receiving it.

 Q5: Will USCIS need to expand its workforce and/or seek appropriated funds to implement these new initiatives?
 A5: USCIS will need to adjust its staffing to sufficiently address this new workload. Any hiring will be funded through application fees rather than appropriated funds.

 Q6: Will the processing of other applications and petitions (such as family-based petitions and green card applications) be delayed?
 A6: USCIS is working hard to build capacity and increase staffing to begin accepting requests and applications for the initiatives. We will monitor resources and capacity very closely, and we will keep the public and all of our stakeholders informed as this process develops over the course of the coming months.

 Q7: What security checks and anti-fraud efforts will USCIS conduct to identify individuals requesting deferred action who have criminal backgrounds or who otherwise pose a public safety threat or national security risk?
 A7: USCIS is committed to maintaining the security and integrity of the immigration system. Individuals seeking deferred action relief under these new initiatives will undergo thorough background checks, including but not limited to 10-print fingerprint, primary name and alias name checks against databases maintained by DHS and other federal government agencies. These checks are designed to identify individuals who may pose a national security or public safety threat, have a criminal background, have perpetrated fraud, or who may be otherwise ineligible to request deferred action. No individual will be granted relief without passing these background checks. In addition, USCIS will conduct an individual review of each case. USCIS officers are trained to identify indicators of fraud, including fraudulent documents. As with other immigration requests, all applicants will be warned that knowingly misrepresenting or failing to disclose facts will subject them to criminal prosecution and possible removal from the United States.

Q8: What if someone’s case is denied or they fail to pass a background check?
 A8: Individuals who knowingly make a misrepresentation, or knowingly fail to disclose facts, in an effort to obtain deferred action or work authorization through this process will not receive favorable consideration for deferred action. In addition, USCIS will apply its current policy governing the referral of individual cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the issuance of Notices to Appear before an immigration judge. If the background check or other information uncovered during the review of a request for deferred action indicates that an individual’s presence in the United States threatens public safety or national security, USCIS will deny the request and refer the matter for criminal investigation and possible removal by ICE, consistent with existing processes.

 Q9: If I currently have DACA, will I need to do anything to receive the third year of deferred action and work authorization provided by the executive initiatives?
 A9: The new three-year work authorization timeframe will be applied for applications currently pending and those received after the President’s announcement. Work authorizations already issued for a two-year period under the current guidelines will continue to be valid through the validity period indicated on the card. USCIS is exploring means to extend previously issued two-year work authorization renewals to the new three-year period.

 Q10: Will the information I share in my request for consideration of deferred action be used for immigration enforcement purposes?
 A10: Information provided in your request is protected from disclosure to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for the purpose of immigration enforcement proceedings unless you meet the criteria for the issuance of a Notice to Appear or a referral to ICE under the criteria set forth in USCIS’ Notice to Appear guidance. Individuals who are granted deferred action will not be referred to ICE. The information may be shared, however, with national security and law enforcement agencies, including ICE and CBP, for purposes other than removal, including:
  •  Assisting in the consideration of the deferred action request; 
  • To identify or prevent fraudulent claims; For national security purposes; or 
  • For the investigation or prosecution of a criminal offense. 
This policy covers family members and guardians, in addition to you.

 Q11: What is USCIS doing to assist dependents of U.S. armed services personnel?
 A11: USCIS is working with the Department of Defense to determine how to expand parole authorization to dependents of certain individuals enlisting or enlisted in the U.S. armed services. For information on the existing parole-in-place policy for military personnel, please read this policy memorandum.

Federal Government and Tinian Dynasty Reach an Agreement

January 19, 2015

Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008

It looks like the Federal Government and the Tinian Dynasty have reached an agreement,  at least on the case charging the Tinian Dynasty with 158 charges relating to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. The charges against the casino include: 1 count of conspiracy to cause a financial institution to fail to file a currency transaction report; 1 count of failure to file a suspicious activity report; 1 count of failure to maintain an anti-money laundering program; and 155 counts of failure to file currency transaction reports. The indictment states, "The total dollar amount of reportable currency transactions that were not filed is approximately $138 million."

Another case against the Tinian Dynasty that is open involves the failure of the Tinian Dynasty to pay the U.S. Department of Labor $191,400 in civil penalties for labor violations regarding a 2007 case. The penalty was reaffirmed in November 2014 by the U.S. DOL's Administrative Review Board.

The USICS denied 693 CW workers permits based on the illegal activities at the casino, including the indictment concerning violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, unpaid civil penalties to the U.S. Department of Labor, failing to pay workers in a timely manner, and workers being allowed to work and be paid even though their CW permits were denied.

Has the new owner, Mega Stars, bailed out the Tinian Dynasty, by agreeing to pay the $138 million or an amount that the parties agreed to in the settlement deal?

Already the Mega Stars has paid over $4 million in back taxes and back wages that Hong Kong Entertainment accrued.

How will any settlement deal or resolution to the cases impact the 693 CW workers whose were denied permits and ordered to leave per USCIS? (See this previous post here.)

Pope Praises Filipino Migrant Workers

January 18, 2015

Pope Francis embraces two children, including 12-year-old Glyzelle Palomar, during his visit to the University of Santo Tomas, in Manila, on January 18, 2015
©Giuseppe Cacace (AFP)

Pope Francis made a 5-day visit to the Philippines where 80% of the population is Catholic. Over 6 million devoted followers came out to see the pope despite unrelenting rain.

The pope met with young people at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila discarding his prepared words to deliver an impromtu speech after being moved by several former street children. One 12-year-old girl Glyzelle sobbed as she asked the pope why God lets children suffer, speaking of the poverty and prostitution on the streets.

The pope was met by a crowd of over 200,000 Typhoon Haiyan survivors in Tacloban, Leyete where he celebrated mass at the airport.  The pope apologized for having to return to Manila because of an approaching tropical storm.

In his speech made at Malacanang the Pope praised the contributions of the Filipino workers who are spread all over the world. He said:
"I would also mention the oft-neglected yet real contribution of Filipinos of the diaspora to the life and welfare of the societies in which they live."
During to Pope's visit to the Mall of Asia in Manila the pontiff spoke of the dangers to Filipino families:
"Pope Francis said economic difficulties have also caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households."
Filipino Migrant Workers in Hong Kong Chairperson Dolores Balladares said, OFWs appreciate Pope Francis’ meeting with Filipino migrant workers and families as part of his visit to the country.
“Even overseas, we are overjoyed with the pope’s presence among our compatriots and fervently wish for his support to our people who are impoverished and disempowered by the economic, social and political problems in our country." 
“We are a people displaced by poverty, unemployment and a system that does not uphold our dignity and right for a decent living with our loved ones. Despite the vaunted growth that the government reports, the increasing number of Filipinos forced to live and work overseas, experience exploitation and discrimination and encounter some of the most unspeakable abuses in a foreign land are proofs of a people desperate to survive and sustain even the most basic of needs.” 
The Sunday Times reported:
About half of population have been affected by labour migration and the strain of decades of labour migration has come at a significant social cost. Francis has made defense of vulnerable migrants and workers a central issue of his papacy. "
Filipino families are divided as people continue to be the country's largest export. Over 12 million Filipinos work overseas. The Philippines ranks fourth among countries receiving remittances.

Having witnessed the ill-treatment of Filipino and and other migrant workers, I praise the pope's call to appreciate the migrant workers and recognize their many contributions.

I hope the pope will address the plight of the migrant workers when he visits the United States. There are millions of migrant workers and their family members on U.S. soil from the CNMI to Florida who suffer from discrimination, poverty and human rights and labor abuses. It must end.