May 17, 2009

True to the pattern he has followed for the last two decades, Fitial wants to delay federalization.  Of course that is what his lawsuit against the federal government is about too - delay.  

Why delay? So the administration can maneuver, scheme, and manipulate in order to maintain their local system of labor and immigration that STEALS LABOR. Yes, steals labor, and has stolen labor under the eyes of the U.S. Congress for three decades. Enough! 

This governor truly thinks that this democratic Congress and Democratic President will pass legislation to delay PL 110-229 for the reasons he lists? The chances of it snowing in Saipan are more likely.

As far as DHS.  Hopefully, they are getting their ducks in a row and will be prepared for November.  They can include the needed funds in the federal budget right now.  We should be requesting funds, not a delay.  

The ONLY reason the delay was pushed to November was because the DHS was unprepared.  It had absolutely nothing to do with Fitial or anyone else calling for a delay. Nothing!  With the change of U.S. Administration the DHS was left unprepared to meet the June 1, 2009 deadline. 

The ONLY reason a further delay would be approved would be if DHS reports that they cannot meet the deadline.   If the U.S. cannot get this together, they should be held responsible for the suffering of every single person affected by their lack of urgency.  

Will the U.S. Congress buy the governor's arguments? According to articles in the Saipan Tribune and the Marianas Variety, he claims the delay is needed because:
  • DHS could reverse its decision on Chinese and Russian visa waivers if there were a delay. 
  •  To institute the law in November would pose a national security threat if they are not prepared.
  • The budget may not reflect the amount needed to fund the new programs. 
The subcommittee and committees should be asking for the budget amount needed. They passed the bill.

And the number one reason he wants a delay is to maintain the local system that fills the pockets of the powerful and rich at the expense of the disenfranchised foreign workers.

According to the Saipan Tribune Howard Willens and Charles Reyes will accompany the governor to the hearing. 


Anonymous said...

We should remove the flag at AMP and burn it on TV if the United States of America allows this criminal to pull this caper.



CNMI Watcher said...

This would mean lynn Knight is a more effective lobbyist and cheaper than Jack Abramoff.

Washington Watcher said...

No, it would mean that Fitial got word (as he did previous to the last delay) that there may have to be a delay because the U.S. is not ready for Nov. and DHS will recommend to Congress a delay. So to look like a hero he would ask for a delay (knowing there would have to be one).

Wendy is right. The only reason DHS approved a delay to Nov. 28th was because they were not prepared to implement the law.

Another delay would take an act of Congress. Congress will provide the funds and tell DHS to get their act together.

Lynn Knight has nada to do with any delay either.

Thrown to the dogs said...

Perhaps the President will use this case as a political chip against the Republicans for unilateral support on other issues.

Anonymous said...

So will you sit next to Fitial?

What Bargaining Chip? said...

Neither Republicans nor Democrats care very much about the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Congressman Sablan is working on changing that.

Anonymous said...

There will be a delay only if they are not ready with their personnel, offices, equipment, etc.

The uncertainty is killing any economic development.

If they can't pull off this small endeavor, we should be worried about whether or not the U.S. would be prepared for a crisis and could pull a team together and move. They KNEW about this!

Anonymous said...

Where is Rep. George Miller?

Anonymous said...

The President doesn't need the Republicans for this. Legislation would even be a consideration if we get our Democratic allies to say no to delay and tell DHS to meet the November deadline.

Anonymous said...

Should have said legislation would NOT even be a consideration...

Anonymous said...

No to all delays including Tom!

Anonymous said...

He's long gone. The real problem was that Pub. L. 110-229 was rushed through so quickly that DHS did not do a realistic estimate of the costs to implement it.

Of course, the Members of Congress pushing this legislation would not pause to ask such questions.

So who suffers? The people of the CNMI. When elephants fight (Republicans vs. Democrats), the grass (CNMI) gets trampled.

the teacher said...

Chamberonomics 104…Comments to DOI

Thank you for the opportunity to submit comments to the May 19, 2009Subcommittee on Insular Affairs oversight hearing.

I will not insult your intelligence or waste this committee’s time with our historical record regarding civil rights except to summarize that legacy in one sentence. It is a well documented fact that recruiters for the Saipan garment industry lured indigent third world workers to Saipan with promises of opportunity in America, or industrial profiteers preyed on the friendly laid back nature of islanders with no industrial or labor experience to victimize impoverished alien workers.

Our economic report is a national disaster and is in such ruin that potable water is more costly than gasoline.

Still, we could celebrate that justice, decency, and fair play were victorious over tyranny, except one issue, what to do with the long disenfranchised workers. This US Congressional action will end a two-tiered system of servitude that has shamed America and the Northern Marianas Islands for a generation. Few usurpations compare to the immoral model advanced here by corporate greed founded in human exploitation. Someday, US history writers will document this case in disbelief.

Besides the stains of human exploitation, the status quo of servitude proponents created a plastic economic model that did not force textile profits back into our infrastructure, had callous disregard toward our environment, and provided nothing in the form of education, training, or opportunity for local young people. The damaging effects of our brightest indigenous young people leaving the Northern Marianas may be felt for a generation.

Earlier this month we had another march, appropriately on May Day. The effectiveness of a concerted action is not measured by numbers of banners, but by the response it provokes. The December 7, 2007 Unity March here was the largest percentage of people to ever participate in a concerted action anywhere, but the local government did not respond or repeal the Island Slave Law, PL-15-08. Instead, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, HANMI, and the Fitial administration lobbied the US Congress again, to stall the minimum wage increase, stop federalization, and block improving the status of guest workers.

The status quo propaganda aims to distort this case and scramble it with US mainland immigration issues, but there are no similarities between the NMI and the Mexican border.

People here that bribed the US Congress are lobbying in DC today, undoubtedly seated at your hearing, and they are the same participants suing America to block this law. My comments to Homeland Security asked, "If these tyrants prevail in court, will the system of servitude here continue?" We have unyielding hope that your committee will look closely at the facts and let them be submitted to an unbiased nation. In concern of the entire disenfranchisement of one-half the residents of this US commonwealth, we ask that this matter be addressed immediately.

So what should we do?

1. This case will never end until we make the Jack Abramoff/Tom Delay bribery conspirators stand accountable for their actions here. Even though Abramoff is in jail, his accomplices here haven’t been charged for the most appalling scandal in US history. The status quo tyrants successfully bribed members of Congress and effected legislation in the US House of Representatives. I don’t want this albatross hanging unattended over the reputations of the decent people here forever. I want action and resolution to this affair by prosecuting the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law. The NMI just convicted our Lt. Governor of four felonies and I suspect some of Jack Abramoff and Tom Delay’s co-conspirators are present with at your hearing today.

2. This case will never end until we provide a working status with an unobstructed path to US citizenship for legal foreign contract workers and protect those workers from deportation by our notorious Department of Labor before US intervention. The corruption and perfidy in our DOL is unwarrantable jurisdiction from profiteers protecting the status quo.

3. All things considered, it applies well to reason that I do not support any form of CNMI residency, temporary, in transition, or permanent, and I do not support amending or altering the federalization law in any manner, as I feel this is a ploy by the powerful to stall long overdue justice here. Some workers are interested in NMI only residency from the standpoint it is better than nothing, but locking thousands of unemployed guest workers here would doom opportunity for indigenous youth for generations and harm the CNMI economy.

4. Many local citizens have been against providing U.S. status for foreign contract workers, believing that illegal workers who angled a weak system should not benefit from fraud, and I totally agree. Blanket grandfathering or amnesty has never been offered or on the table to my understanding and my understanding of grandfathering has always been fairness and justice for legal guest workers. Complicating this issue is unemployed workers who are owed back wages or have other labor cases, some with more merit than others. The question is, "Should workers that have claims for non-payment be allowed to remain working, or seeking work, in the NMI?" The answer is yes and we should also prosecute the labor abusers to the fullest extent of the law for non-payment. I have read that this figure is over six million dollars. This case will never end until we address the grievances of past workers and make them whole.

5. Our most immediate immigration and societal issue does not involve guest workers; it involves criminals residing here from foreign lands. The broken and corrupt CNMI labor and immigration system has created a haven for criminals from the Asian mainland. The immigration regulations your committee is formulating should address this as our most critical and pressing issue. The drugs, money laundering, human exploitation, sex trade industry, and many forms corruption can begin to be solved by deporting all of these characters. Decent citizens pray there is no US investor visa status for pimps. US citizens have little involvement in the aforementioned crimes in the CNMI. The local rumor says that they (meaning our cheap foreign operators) are secure to stay here with their fifty dollar business licenses through the transition period, which would be the worst imaginable economic plan for the decent citizens here. We need investors, but we do not need sleazy operators that have not complied with US investment visa laws. Our post-garment era labor abuses are promulgated by foreign nationals who have minimal assets. Many locals who were against federalization were concerned with a loss of local culture and identity; looking at the sleazy operations littering Beach and Middle Road, they have reason to be concerned. These regulations have an opportunity to solve an old CNMI problem so that five years from now, we will see indigenous store owners operating in our tourist areas. Foreign nationals should not be allowed to reside in the CNMI unless they have repatriated to their home and meet all US immigration or investor visa requirements to return.

6. The issue of Russian and Chinese visa waivers has the hotel organization and Saipan Chamber of Commerce concerned, but is not an issue with merit. The seven Chinese cities that our tourists originate all have a Consulate so there is no justification for waiving their visas, besides it is a matter for the State Department, not the CNMI. Vladivostok, the common origin of our Russian tourists, has a consulate as well. Considering the US Marine build-up in the Marianas, foreign nationals from these countries should comply with US visa and investor laws.

US insular areas need a cohesive immigration policy. We encourage closer ties between the US territories to aid economic development, relieve unemployment by better utilization of unemployed US citizens to eliminate the dependency on foreign labor, encourage inter-island investments, and open markets from Asia to the Caribbean region for tourism and investment. Airline carriers have long monopolized our small and remote market. We need low cost air travel to aid tourism, investment, and shipping. Open skies policies here or subsidized flights connecting the insular areas would stimulate a wealth of economic development in each region.

Residents are concerned with the NMI becoming a welfare state. Had the Chamber of Commerce and Fitial administration not fought the federalization bill so hard, we may have had the right to unlimited H-1 Visas, a business niche that, to quote David Cohen, "Silicon Valley would kill for". This may have enabled the NMI to be a technology hub while Guam developed a military based economy. That opportunity would help the NMI.

The CNMI has had much positive social change since Representative Christensen first introduced HR – 3079. Workers here had long lived in fear, having been manipulated with scare tactics and intimidation. Now, our news carries daily letters from contract guest workers and locals alike, each writing publically of their disdain for the system here. If we have gained nothing else, we have established that in America, everyone can speak their mind freely, can exercise their freedom of press, and may actively assemble together to organize and redress grievances without fear of reprisals, something that had to change in the Northern Marianas Islands.

In closing, while we sympathize with the downtrodden in every land, our undivided loyalties are guaranteeing that the democratic principles of our nation protect Americans on US soil. We are thankful to have a Homeland Security office in Saipan that will aid immediate relatives of US citizens and we are thankful to finally have a member of the US Congress, Representative Sablan, to speak for the people here.

I thank the committee members for your individual efforts to aid our home and hope your contributions to social justice in the Northern Marianas Islands will be reflected by the reputations and friendly nature of the inhabitants of these wonderful islands.

Again, thank you for this opportunity to comment.

Very respectfully,