Congressional Staffers Visit CNMI -Workers Hold Rally

August 9, 2008

A delegation from Washington, DC is spending one day on Saipan speaking to some key government officials and community groups to get input on the progress of regulations and policy for PL 110-229. Reportedly the delegation includes staff members from the House Resources Committee and Subcommittee on Insular Affairs and the House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law Membership. The Coalition of Workers (NMI) and other worker groups held a rally at American Memorial Park near the Hyatt Hotel where the staff members are staying. The guest workers held signs asking for improved status for long-term workers and parents of US citizen children, and requesting the end to deportation of guest workers.  

In recent weeks many workers with outstanding judgments and labor cases have been repatriated. I met one such worker at the Tokyo airport two days ago.  He was returning to Bangladesh after working 11 years in the CNMI.  He slumped in a seat next to me,  as he explained with tears in his eyes that he was forced to leave the CNMI without over $6,000 owed to him as detailed in an administrative order he pulled from his carry-on bag.  According to the documents he showed me, Nelia Lozano of Seiko Employment Services was ordered to pay $6,344 to the guest worker.  There was no bonding company listed on any of the papers including his contract. This same gentleman told me the day before a garment worker was sent home without his pay, another worker owed money from Winner's Garment was on another flight that same day and two more workers owed money were being sent home the following week.

Workers at the rally reported that Tony Babauta,  staff director of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, and other staffers acknowledged and waved to the workers and their children as they passed by on their way to a scheduled event.  

A Marianas Variety article stated that:
In an interview, Washington Rep. Pete A. Tenorio said the visiting congressional staffers want to correct the misinformation regarding the federalization issue.

While here, they will also gather information on available opportunities for locals in the private sector and how the federalization law can help them.

A press release from the House Resources Committee released August 4th when the GAO report was released stated:
A new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report made public today underscores the important role federal agencies - particularly the Department of Homeland Security, along with the Departments of Labor and the Interior - must play in providing for the successful transition of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to federal immigration policy.

"I am not surprised with GAO's findings with respect to the job of federal agencies in the coming months. This transition can work and be beneficial to the CNMI economy and her people, but it will clearly need a collaborative effort from CNMI leadership and other stakeholders to be a success," said Del. Donna M. Christensen (D-VI), Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs.


Anonymous said...

After reading this paper. i 'am very upset, i can say that saipan is my island because i was born and grow up here, but it so sad that there's a story like that, i think law makers now a day's is unfair. why did they send home a person in their home country if he or she did not get yet the money.i think its time for you people tofight for your right.
God Bless and more Power.

Ms. Diane from Dan-dan Saipan