Message to the Guest Workers

Read at the April 5, 2008 Prayer Vigil

From Wendy Doromal

Unity was the message in December as thousands of us gathered in this very spot to support federalization. People representing CNMI residents, guest workers, businesses, and people of all nationalities, cultures, religions, and origins joined together in a demonstration of unity. People came from neighboring islands, and from the other side of the world to participate in the Unity March. They united with one voice, one heart, and one common dream. Everyone shared the dream of a united and prosperous CNMI. That dream can only be achieved through mutual respect, collaboration, and social and political justice. We must keep that dream alive, and stay united and focused on victory, which is within our grasp!

Gandhi said, “Unity, to be real, must stand the severest strain without breaking.” I believe that the unity of the guest workers is real and can withstand any strain. At this time, unity among the guest workers and some of their advocates is being tested. Unity does not mean that we must always share the same opinions. It does not mean we must walk the same paths to get to the final destination. Unity does not mean that we must trust the same people. It does not mean that we must always agree. However, for unity to survive and to be strengthened despite trials and tests, we must respect each other’s opinions, and agree to disagree while demonstrating tolerance and understanding for diverse views and conflicting ideas.

Over the last two decades many obstacles have been tossed in our path by opponents, yet we overcame them and stayed the course. We must not allow differences among our ranks to become obstacles that fragment our unity, and cause detours in achieving our goals. Hold fast to unity!

Hope was the message at the November Prayer Rally when hundreds gathered on this spot to pray for federalization and permanent status for long-term guest workers. Hope that after the struggle, there will be better days, and the realization of social and political rights for the guest workers of the CNMI. Hope that after federalization, the U.S. government will set forth a federal plan for permanent status for long-term guest workers. Hope that parents of U.S. citizen children will find a clear pathway to U.S. citizenship. Hope that CNMI residents and legislators will embrace federalization and work hand in hand with federal officials to establish a smooth transition and policies that will benefit all. Hope is not a dream. Hope is what turns dreams into reality. Keep hope forever in your hearts!

Strength was the message at the August March when hundreds of guest workers and their U.S. citizen children were greeted by Representative Donna Christensen at the Fisherman’s Memorial and then marched in the rain to American Memorial Park. You found the strength to stand up to detractors, opponents, and those who spoke untruths. Strength to speak up to Governor Fitial when he declared that all of the demonstrators outside the courthouse were “illegals” and would be deported. Strength to oppose P.L.15-108, which suppresses due process, and contains an inhumane exit provision. Strength to write letters to the U.S. Congress to appeal for status, justice, and basic rights. Stand strong always!

Perseverance was the message at the July Prayer Rally held in the church parking lot. Perseverance in getting over 4,000 signatures for petitions to the U.S. Congress. Perseverance in demanding payment for unpaid judgments. Perseverance in demanding rights in labor cases, criminal cases, and EEOC cases. Perseverance in fighting for decades for federalization, and guest workers’ rights. Persevere until victory is in hand!

Applaud your unity, hope, strength, and perseverance in your ongoing struggle to gain social and political rights, and status! Social justice cannot be achieved merely through legislation. It is achieved through changing people’s hearts, through understanding, and through education. Stay the course until social justice is as accepted as taking a breath. Stay united in your fight for federalization. Don’t despair; never lose hope. Stand strong for justice for yourselves and your children. Persevere in your fight for status, political and social rights, liberty, democracy, and freedom until the fight is won. It has been a long journey, and I will be with you until the summit is reached. I believe the end of this difficult journey is very near!

I extend my love and best wishes to each of you.