Hearing Today

View from Congressman Miller's window.

May 19, 2009

Today the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife will hold an oversight hearing on the "Implementation of Public Law 110-229 to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam.” From the Subcommittee:
The hearing will allow leaders of the CNMI and Guam and federal officials to testify on the progress and status of the implementation of Title VII of P.L. 110-229. The hearing will also explore any concerns or problems that may have arisen since the law was enacted.
Guest workers and nonresidents should be encouraged by written and oral testimony that will be presented to the subcommittee.  (I will post links to testimony when I get back home.)

I visited Congressional offices and met with officials yesterday and have to say I am encouraged by the fact that everyone I spoke to understands and empathizes with the  concerns of the nonresidents and long-term guest workers. I also dropped off the letters from guest workers, nonresident, US citizen children of nonresidents, and their supporters. They will be entered as testimony with my written testimony.

In the months ahead we need to unite to reach out to all of the members of Congress with this message. We know who supports us on this issue, now we need to launch an education campaign and reach those who do not know about this issue.  In the coming weeks we will be posting a form letter that you can send to your relatives and friends in the states to send to their own members of Congress. The letter will also be sent to many supportive NGOs to distribute to their mailing lists and members so they can send it to their members.  We need every member of Congress to understand the issue and support status for the long-term guest workers and non-residents.

Remember you can watch the hearing live at: http://resourcescommittee.house.gov
Or stop by the TSL Building to watch it with friends.

Here are some photos from Washington, DC  that include Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan, the Supreme Court Building, the Library of Congress, and the Capitol (I walked by these architecturally beautiful buildings on my way from the Cannon Office Building to the Hart Office Building). Finally, two of my dear friends from Saipan hosted a fabulous dinner in a private dining room of the Marriot to celebrate the fact that Abdu'l Mozhid was granted his green card!  In the photo are guest of honor, Mozhid (white shirt on the left), Nousher Jahedi (also a former guest worker in Saipan), Senate staffer Al Stayman, attorney Elena Hung and Keir Bickerstaffe.

Photos by Wendy L. Doromal ©2009


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Mozhid! Soon it will be us!

Anonymous said...

i watched the hearing last night together with hundreds of guest workers near the TLS Bldg.plaza where the peaceful assembly is being held...
that was my VERY FIRST time to see and hear the gov.of cnmi in a hearing...no offense meant, the way he answered all the questions directed to him, could be answered better by a 6th grader students...no wonder he made those kind of remarks to guest workers before like "go home" and "they are all illegals"...
it maybe the same reason why he needs advisers (volunteers)...but it seems to me that the advises and reviews given to him before he would sat on the panel, did not retain his memory....
i don't mean to offend, but it was very obvious last night or maybe he doesn't really know what's going on...and after his turn, he was sleepy and was sleeping during the hearing....
i hope his constituents could watch this oversight hearing...next time they would VOTE, pls.vote WISER...think of a "BETTER TEAM"..

the teacher said...

The Governor has lost it and his "case" has been unraveled and is a nonsensical direction for the CNMI.

David Cohen has a grip on reality here. His testimony is unbiased as he is no longer a federal employee and is not a resident here.

His words were "the voice of reason in a sea of discontent”.

Anonymous said...

Was it an employment- or family-based green card? Or trafficking victim?

Interior Hearing Testimony said...

Recently, the Secretary of DHS utilized legislative authority to delay the transition period effective date by 180 days to November 28, 2009. There is, however, no equivalent statutory authority to delay Interior’s report on long-term foreign workers. If there is only five months of administration before the report is due, as the current timeframe would require, insufficient data and other factors may make the completion of a meaningful report difficult. In addition, we are anticipating that status adjustments of some foreign workers will need to be made, potentially increasing the time it will take to complete the report beyond the one year originally allowed for in Public Law 110-229. These factors may make it difficult for Interior and its partners to parse desirable immigration policy and long-term foreign worker issues in an abbreviated timeframe.

The Department of the Interior, therefore, requests that the Congress extend the statutory date for the report on long-term foreign workers by one year to May 8, 2011.

the teacher said...

Perhaps Fitial had heard this DOI report before he made his 1 year stall request.

This would be the worst thing that could happen to the CNMI and will garuantee misery through uncertainty until this is resolved.

wendy said...

Interior Hearing Testimony -

Most of the hearing was predictable -Guam wants this, blah , blah, blah, CNMI want this,, blah, blah blah, The chamber was the same old, same old.

Yet, Nik Pula asking for a delay for the decision on status really disgusted me. Interior and the other departments already have had a year. Did they even coordinate? People within DOI helped draft the law and they say they need a year? This taxpayer says, NO WAY! Meet the deadline. Do what it takes.

Can't make a decision within May 8, 2010? REALLY?Let me help you. Recommend doing the RIGHT thing, the MORAL thing. Recommend granting green cards to every nonresident worker who has been in the CNMI for 5 years or more. Easy? No?

Do your job. Get to work. Get it done and stop asking for delays.

wendy said...

No Ron, I believe Fitial and Pula coordinated this effort.

Anonymous said...

Any available and future jobs in Guam or the CNMI should be reserved for US Citizens only. Whether they come out from the US Mainland or are living on the islands. AMERICANS need jobs more than ever.

DHS Hearing Testimony said...

At present, we do not believe that it is in the interest of the United States and the CNMI to take precipitous actions which would force law-abiding aliens residing in the CNMI with legal immigration status at the time of transition to depart the CNMI. DHS recognizes that some residents of the CNMI have a CNMI immigration status that cannot fall within one of the nonimmigrant classifications of the INA, yet their CNMI immigration status supports the favorable exercise of discretion to be allowed to remain in the CNMI after the start of the transition period. These CNMI classifications are not those which are normally referred to as “guest workers” and were not in the population DHS believes that the Congress envisioned as becoming transitional workers under the CNRA. An example of this are those aliens who were granted “permanent resident” status in the CNMI by the former Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands government prior to 1982. Another example is spouses of aliens from the Freely Associated States who are not nationals of those Freely Associated States and would not ordinarily be allowed to be in the United States under the terms of the Compacts of Free Association.

DHS is still reviewing other issues and circumstances such as widows of U.S. citizens who could have applied for status many years ago but did not because they resided in the CNMI, alien parents of disabled U.S. citizen children, the income level required for affidavits of support to obtain U.S. permanent residence and the requirements for travel and reentry by aliens with lawful CNMI employment authorization during the first two years of the transition period. DHS also believes that communicating the decisions made on these issues will be essential to a successful transition and DHS has begun and continues to plan for the outreach efforts that will be needed. As with the Guam-CNMI VWP rule, representatives of DHS and USCIS will conduct an extensive outreach effort when the rules are published.

Missing Data said...

So the DHS Hearing Testimony does offer some hope in the long run.

The central problem is that the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau has not been keeping the same statistics in the territories that they do everywhere else in the country.

So decision-makers from Interior to DHS lack the relevant data to ensure any changes do not harm the CNMI economy. This should have been done long before any federalization efforts began, or at least at the same time.

The aliens in our midst are the ones, among others, who will pay most dearly for this longstanding Census neglect.

Anonymous said...

Missing Data, the problem is not that Washington bureaucrats didn't keep statistics. The problem is that the Fitial Administration refused to cooperate with the feds. The figures DHS needs are not quantum physics. They are simple numbers like how many foreigners are in the CNMI, and how many children have they had. "Longstanding Census neglect" is more of us blaming someone else for our own failure here at home.

Anonymous said...

The numbers don't lie. The feds have been gravely remiss, from enforcing federal law to giving the islands the basic services they do everywhere else in our country.Blame it on the local government all you want. The actual facts speak for themselves. There have been plenty of omissions to go around.

wendy said...

Hmm. What happened to the labor and immigration system that should be a model for the U.S.? They don't track who comes in and who leaves? They said that they do! If they did, then on any given day there would be records of how many foreign contract workers there are in the CNMI. The hospital has records of births. Do they note how many children are born to foreigners and how many to US citizens?

How hard would it be to register everyone? Start alphabetically calling people in to register. This is not 1,000,000 people, or 100,000 or 50,000, or 25,000 people! I could figure out how to get statistics on 16,000 to 18,000 people. A government agency can't?

Furthermore, DOI and DHS knew what statistics they had to work with and what they would have to do one year ago. GAO could assist in this. They need to stop making excuses.

Anonymous said...

If you read the GAO testimony, they are the primary folks pointing out the grave lack of data with respect to the territories. Read that testimony carefully, and you'll see what I mean. We need economic data. It is not just a simple matter of counting aliens, but figuring out how many are really needed in various positions!

For whatever reasons, primarily the GAO-pointed-out lack of data, DHS is not ready.

Moreover, to serve as a valid basis for granting federal immigration benefits, USCIS needs actual registration of foreign nationals in the CNMI, with biometric verification. That is why the law provided for such verification, at the discretion of DHS.

Don't blame the CNMI for yet another federal failing. However, to be fair, one must point out that this legislation was rushed through out of political spite and vindictiveness against Abramoff. That'll show him!

Despite advice from the Fitial Administration, no one in Congress thought to give the necessary money to DHS and Commerce. The political hacks gave a wildly under-valued estimate of the DHS costs, as part of the slimy, underhanded, and immoral effort to push through the bill before the CNMI even had a seat in Congress!

So the real cause of the delay in registering aliens is the tactics of the federalizer proponents. What goes around comes around. The ends do not justify the means!