News From Washington, D.C.

April 8, 2008

Bill Wicker, spokesperson for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said, "There is no stopping the passage of the federalization bill." The Saipan Tribune stated:

"Bill Wicker, communications director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, said that not even a local proposal to grant permanent immigration status to long-time guest workers would make the senators change their minds.

“The U.S. Senate is poised to pass S. 2739 (which contains the CNMI measure), and that could happen as early as this week,” Wicker said in an e-mail to the Saipan Tribune.

...Wicker reiterated the Senate committee's position that the proposed immigration reform, once enacted, “will provide a foundation for the CNMI's economic future by creating stable and sustainable labor and immigration laws.”Further, he pointed out that the CNMI immigration has taken no formal action on the worker status legislation

A story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal discussed Okahoma Republican Senator Tom Colburn's gun amendment.

Yesterday's Saipan Tribune covered a story concerning a petition by guest workers requesting federal status after the passage of the bill:

"...The petition, which aims to collect 5,000 signatures, will be forwarded to federal government agencies to urge them to establish federal permanent status and an “eventual pathway to citizenship for the legal long-term guest workers, for parents of U.S. citizen children who live and work in the CNMI and for those new guest workers that the government will need to invite to the U.S. to perform the jobs that many U.S. citizens in the CNMI shun or are not trained to perform.”

According to Human Dignity Movement leader Jerry Custodio, the petition is expected to collect at least 5,000 in a matter of two weeks. After two weeks, scanned copies will be sent to human rights activist Wendy Doromal who will then distribute them to various agencies in the U.S. mainland.The petition is addressed to members of the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Natural Resources, House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and the Human Rights Watch.

The petition states that, while it is true that guest workers were not promised resident status or a pathway to citizenship when they were recruited, many have already lived in the CNMI between five and 30 years, or even more.

“Some of us have spent more years of our lives in the CNMI than in our homelands,” stated the petition. “The argument that guest workers entered the CNMI knowing that their entry for work would not qualify them for a permanent status, thus they should not be granted one, is not a fair one.” “We are not claiming a right; we are making an appeal for fairness and justice,” the petition states.

Guest workers who wish to download a copy of the petition can access it here. Signature sheets can be scanned and e-mailed to .

The federal government will be looking at guest worker status after the passage of S. 2739. Other groups are also exploring local CNMI status as a way to provide stability to long-term guest workers.