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.

Tinian Dynasty's Legal Woes Could Destroy the Company and 693 Lives

January 13, 2015

Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008











Imagine being lured to a country with the promise of financial gain and a secure future only to learn that your company's application for your annual work permit has been denied. Imagine working and living in a country 5, 10, 15 or more years as a skilled workers and upstanding member of society, but because your company has a federal criminal indictment filed against it you are notified that you will have to leave. You are not permitted a chance to transfer to a legitimate company or an opportunity to apply for parole. You will be tossed aside like the other disrespected foreign workers that keep the country's economy flourishing.

Imagine these events take place on U.S. soil under a federal immigration system. Welcome to the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) where long term nonresident workers are viewed as disposal commodities. It's the place on U.S. soil where the nonresident population outnumbers the resident population. The place in the U.S. where the disrespected foreign workers struggle to survive as members of a firmly established disenfranchised underclass.

No immigration system should regard any long term (5 or more years) foreign worker as mere labor units that can be replaced. They should be seen as future citizens. How disappointing that the U.S. a country that claims to be the torch bearer for human rights, supports such a system.

The Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino is a classic example of an exploitative employer. It highlights all that is wrong with the broken immigration system.

Perhaps no one has been more victimized by the wrong doings of the Tinian Dynasty's Hotel and Casino than the 693 innocent foreign contract workers who have been given notice that they are not legally present in the U.S. This despite the fact that their employer continued to employ and pay them without the required CW permits.

A long term Tinian Dynasty employee with three U.S. citizen children contacted me concerning the plight of the company's employees. It appears that since 2012 the Tinian Dynasty employees' CW permits have been denied. Their solution? To allow the employees to work and be paid while filing appeals.

The employees did not even know that their work permits had been denied until they read the story in a local newspaper. One employee told me that about 45 of the company's wait staff employees have had their papers denied since 2012. However, they were not informed that their applications for renewal were twice denied and twice appealed. The employee said that no one knew about denials until it came out in the Marianas Variety in December 2014.

Perhaps as a result of the publicity, in late December 2014 the employer finally gave the workers the USCIS-issued Notice of Decision regarding their applications. The two-page document states in part:
"The nonimmigrant visa petition filed to classify the beneficiary under 8 C.F.R. 214.2 (w) has been denied.

The decision resulting in the denial of Form 1-129CW leaves the beneficiary without lawful immigration status. Absent an approved application or petition, which would bestow valid immigration status upon the beneficiary he or she is now present in the United States in violation of the law. Failing to maintain valid immigration status or remaining in the United States beyond the expiration of status will affect the beneficiary's ability to return to the United States in the future.If the beneficiary is currently not in a valid immigration status or the date listed on the I-94 has already passed, this Notice of Decision leaves the beneficiary without lawful immigration status and he or she is hereafter in the United States in violation of the law and is requested to depart the United States immediately.

There is no appeal to this Decision. However pursuant to 8 CRF 103.5, a motion can be filed on Form 290B. Such motion must be accompanied by the proper fee and filed within 30 days of this notice.

Please note that if you timely file a motion with USCIS, and if the motion is granted, the petition will be reopened and approved and the beneficiary will be accorded the classification sought."
How amazing that USCIS has to tell the employees that they are present in the U.S. illegally and have been working illegally.

Several Dynasty employees, represented by the company's attorney Bruce Berline,  have filed a lawsuit to sue USCIS. However, it is surprising that the 698 recipients of this document have not considered suing the Tinian Dynasty aka Hong Kong Entertainment for withholding information concerning the status of their applications and jeopardizing their security.

The victims should immediately investigate their ability to qualify for temporary status under President Obama's November 20, 2014 immigration executive order. (Click this link.) Considering that most of the employees have been on U.S. soil since January 1, 2010, have U.S. citizen children and were placed out of status before the executive order, it appears that they qualify. I hope a reputable attorney will assist them in this matter.

Other documents that the employees provided for me explain that USCIS denied Tinian Dynasty's foreign worker permits because of their documented illegal activities. These included a federal lawsuit for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, persistent labor violations and their action in employing foreign workers even though their permits were expired and their renewal applications were denied and in the appeals process.

The following documents clarify the seriousness of the situation and the fact that USCIS and the Department of Homeland Security do not consider the Tinian Dynasty a 'legitimate' business.
























































































































The Tinian Dynasty's attorney Bruce Berline is a key figure in a web of lawsuits concerning the controversial Tinian business. Berline petitioned for former U.S. Assistant Attorney Patrick Smith to serve as co-counsel on the case. The petition was approved by the court on January 9, 2014.

The Federal Government filed 158 charges against the casino: 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."

There is a lot at stake in this lawsuit. The Federal Government demands that if the Tinian Dynasty Casino and Hotel is convicted on one or more of the 157 counts, then it will forfeit the $138 million, and the property - "the Tinian Dynasty Hotel and Casino, and any leasehold interest, located at One Broadway, Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands."

Read the indictment:
On December 30, 2014 Attorney Berline filed a request to the federal court to review the U.S. Department of Labor's ruling that Hong Kong Investment owed $191,000  in civil penalties for cheating workers of their wages. Here is the complaint:

Mega Stars Overseas Ltd. was scheduled to take ownership of the Tinian Hotel and Casino and build a new $600 complex on Tinian. However, it has reportedly experienced roadblocks from the Tinian Casino Commission and CNMI Government.

Was Mega Stars conned by the Dynasty's corrupt management and the CNMI's slick politicians? Mega Stars chief executive, Cario Hon stated that in a negotiating to take over ownership of the Tinian Hotel and Casino, it paid over $3 million in back taxes and also paid  $1 - 2 million in back wages to the business just to keep it from collapse.  Hon invested over $50 million to the Dynasty since 2013. Still the Tinian Gaming Commission has not approved its application for a casino license.

Marianas Stars Entertainment a subsidiary of Mega Stars lost its bid for a Saipan Casino license to Best Sunshine International, a subsidiary of Imperial Pacific Holdings. This was after Governor Inos and Senators Ralph Torres (R-Saipan), Victor Hocog (R-Rota), and Frank Cruz (R-Tinian), enjoyed a "fact finding trip" to Macau and Hong Kong. The politicians claim the trip was funded by Esteem Capital. Shady, regardless of which casino-related company funded it.

From a September 2014 Saipan Tribune article:
It was earlier reported that Mega Stars now owns 99.99 percent of the share capital of Tinian Dynasty Investments Limited. Moreover, TDIL is the sole and beneficial owner of the entire issued share capital of HKE, Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd.
In October 2014 it was reported that Macau-based company, Alter City Holdings, Ltd acquired 152 hectares in a Tinian land deal with the CNMI Department of Public Lands. It now competes with Mega Stars, Saipan Jinghua Investment, Inc.  and Bridge Investment for a casino license.

Also, in December 2014 the CNMI Senate passed Joint Resolution 18-9  to convince the USCIS to reverse their decision to deny 197 CNMI-only transitional work applications that covered 693 foreign workers. The senators made the point that it's impossible to replace 693 workers considering the lack of enough skilled locals to fill the positions.

The resolution also emphasized the negative economic impact stating:
The Tinian Dynasty’s closure will result in an enormous financial loss considering its annual expenditures which include: payroll $8,592,802; Business Gross Revenue Tax, $1,458,116, Employee Withholding Receipt, $439,030; hotel room tax $588,914, bar tax $25,444; FICA $735,055, Gaming Tax paid to the Tinian municipality $2,396,134; CUC $3,646,134; Suppliers, $3,750; Star Marianas Air $975,000; and Mobil Oil $600,000.
The resolution also mentioned the human cost - the 693 victims and their family members.  Many of the non-resident employees are parents to U.S. citizen children.

Regardless of the contents, the resolution will have no influence on the decision to be made by USCIS.

The CNMI's push and defense of a casino industry to secure 'easy' revenue is similar to its former push and defense of the garment industry. We all know how that turned out. After violating human rights, civil rights and labor laws; tarnishing the reputation of the U.S.; and exploiting and abusing thousands of foreign workers, the factory doors closed leaving a wake of financial and human destruction. Hopefully, someone in power will ensure that the employee-victims will be humanely granted parole or status.

Tinian Dynasty's Woes Hurt CW Workers

January 1, 2015

Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2008










The Tinian Dynasty has had its share of troubles. The casino and hotel is notorious for owing back taxes; for years the management failed to pay its employees on time; the company has had labor cases filed against it by the U.S. Department of Labor; and it has had several EEOC cases filed against it for unfair labor practices. It also faced several federal charges in 2013 for failing  to file currency transaction reports. As if that wasn't enough, the Tinian Gaming Commission ripped off casino employees.

Such questionable practices surely do not reflect the standards that qualify a company to be considered a legitimate businesses in the eyes of USCIS. Perhaps that may be why over 500 CW petitions have been denied by the federal immigration agency.

Apparently Hong Kong Entertainment (Overseas) Investments Ltd. (HKE), the owner of the Tinian Dynasty informed the foreign employees early in December 2014 that all the CW-1 petitions had been denied because of the pending criminal case. Confusion concerning an agreement to transfer ownership of the casino and hotel to Mega Stara, a CNMI corporation may have also led to the permit denials.

Tinian Dynasty employees Belal Hossain, Wenli Zhong, Pukar Patel and 500 Does (CW workers) are suing the USCIS; Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security; Leon Rodriguez, USCIS Director, and Kathy A. Baran, Director of the USCIS California Service Center.

The three defendants, Patel, Zhong and Hossain have all resided in the CNMI for over a decade – Patel for 11 years , Zhong for 15 years and Hossain for 18 years. They are taxpayers and law abiding de facto citizens.

I cannot access the complaint that was filed in the U.S. District Court of the Northern Mariana Islands, but I will post it when it is available.

The Marianas Variety reports:
On Dec. 8, 2014, USCIS denied all HKEs CW-1 petitions. For employees seeking to renew their CW-1 status, USCIS denied each such petition on the principle grounds that Tinian Dynasty was not an ineligible employer because of the pending criminal case and each employee was ineligible, the complaint told the federal court. 
USCIS considered them to be ineligible because, unlike transfer employees, its policy did not allow long-term or short-term employees seeking renewal to continue during the pendency of a timely filed petition if USCIS has not ruled on the employee’s petition prior to expiration of the date appearing on the employee’s I-94 card, the complaint said. 
The USCIS position is that each employee seeking to renew employment with HKE had to stop work and “sit idly” by on Tinian from on or about Jan. 2014 until USCIS ruled on their petitions in Dec. 2014, according to the complaint. 
In addition to being denied CW-1 status, USCIS stated that plaintiffs and the majority of HKEs foreign contract workers must leave the commonwealth immediately, the complaint said. None of the denials mention or discuss Mega Stars or the transfer of HKEs ownership, control and management to Mega Stars. 
USCIS’ regulations do not allow plaintiffs or any other person seeking CW-1 status with HKE to appeal or otherwise be a party to an administrative appeal based on the denial of the CW-1 petitions submitted by HKE, the complaint said. 
USCIS’ regulations do not allow plaintiffs or any other person seeking CW-1 status with HKE to stay the effective date of the denials and the obligation to “immediately” leave the CNMI, the complaint added. 
Plaintiffs, each of them, do not have any adequate remedy at law against defendants for the irreparable harm defendants are inflicting on them except for the lawsuit for injunctive and declaratory relief, according to the complaint.
If all of the Tinian Dynasty's 500 plus foreign workers were forced to leave Tinian, the economy would likely crash. There are not enough local people to replace the skilled and loyal foreign workers. The Tinian Dynasty would close and the CNMI Government would lose the tax revenue that the casino and hotel generate.

The Tinian Dynasty has had problems since it opened – problems paying taxes, problems paying workers, and problems complying with laws.  The CNMI Government has coddled and made excuses for the Tinian Dynasty for years, whether by not enforcing CNMI labor laws to the detriment of the workers, or by forgiving millions of dollars in tax debts to the detriment of the economy.

How unfortunate that the innocent employees will be the ones to suffer and pay for the management's incompetence and unlawful acts.

Happy Holidays!

December 24, 2014




Toxic Spending Bill Passes Senate: Good news for CNMI investors, bad news for our country

December 14, 2014


One of the worst spending bills in U.S. history passed the U.S. Senate by a vote of 56- 40. How bad is it? It is a Christmas present to Wall Street and the rich. The spending bill had a provision that was written by Citicorp that repeals the Frank-Dodd bill so taxpayers will once again get to pay for any risky investments Wall Street and big banks make.  When banks make risky investments, the taxpayers will pay the bill.

The bill also increased the amount an individual can donate to a campaign 10 times, from $32,400 to $324,000. It's not like this country isn't already run by lobbyists and the rich. This bill gives them an even stronger voice.

But wait, there's more! Pell grants to college students will be cut. Who gets that money? Why, the private student loan contractors who have been screwing students.  The bill ends a 40 year old honorable agreement with workers. It will allow trustees to cut the pensions of the retired.

Our highways will be more unsafe. The bill allows truck drivers to work 82-hour weeks without a requirement for two days of rest, as safety advocates wanted.

But wait, there's more! The bill funds the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) only until February 27, 2015. Other agencies are funded through September 30, 2015. That was an attack on the recent executive order to provide immigration relief to a variety of categories of undocumented workers.

The bill blocks the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing some clean water act regulations in agricultural areas. It excluded the sage grouse from the endangered species list. It blocks energy efficient standards that would have gotten rid of energy sucking incandescent bulbs.

The Women Infants and Children program now has a requirement for white potatoes. (Good job potato lobbyists.)

You won't read about any of these poison pill provisions if you live in the CNMI. You will be celebrating the fact that the E2-C visa holders, 261 foreign investors, can stay in the CNMI without any pathway to citizenship for another 5 years. You can toss confetti because the CNMI will be exempt from U.S. asylum laws for 5 more years and Guam and the CNMI will be exempt from the H visa cap allowing for more temporary foreign workers.

Voting against the bill were the following Democrats: Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jon Tester (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and  Ron Wyden (D-OR).