One Year Ago

May 8, 2009

One year ago today President George W. Bush signed the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, PL 110-229, into law. While it is certainly not the law that advocates and guest workers were hoping for, it is at least a major step in reforming the decades of labor abuse and putting an end to the dysfunctional local labor system that promotes a two-tiered system.

It was disappointing that the DHS was unprepared to implement the law on June 8, 2009, and a 180 day delay was approved. Now is the time to take advantage of the delay to ensure that the regulations that are written for the transitional federal guest worker program are ones that reflect the democratic and just values of our nation.

How do you envision the federal guest worker program? What changes would you like to see from the current CNMI guest worker program? If you are a foreign contract worker or a nonresident you may not have social and political rights, but you can be heard in Washington. Make your views known!

Although the Fitial Administration and groups in Guam successfully lobbied to have the grandfathering provision removed form the bill, status is an issue that will eventually be decided and reviewed. Make your position known!

You can write a letter that will be submitted along with written testimony at the May 19, 2009 hearing.

I have received many letters from foreign contract workers, U.S. citizen children of non-residents, CNMI permanent residents, FSM relatives, and U.S. citizens who support a clear pathway to citizenship for long term foreign contract workers and nonresidents. A letter from Malou Berueco printed in the Marinas Variety sums up the sentiment of many. It is passionate, powerful, and truth rings though it:
When the CNMI turned its back on us, I never lost hope. I believe that America is a land of freedom, equality, opportunities, hopes and dreams.

Now that the regulations for the transitional workers will be drafted, I am requesting your good heart to consider giving improved status to long-term guest workers who have worked and live in the CNMI legally.

Please consider the contributions the guest workers have made on this island — it’s not our island, but it’s a place we consider home.

I am not trying to boast but I just want to point out that whatever the CNMI’s economic situation is, we are here — we remain its key workforce.

We are willing to undergo the usual screening and processing of U.S. immigration laws, but please consider our length of stay, our contributions, our skills, professions and experience. We are paying taxes in a timely manner, we do volunteer community services and we have never been a burden to the CNMI government and the community.

Whether the people of the CNMI admit it or not, our presence made living here more exciting and wonderful.

Please consider also the welfare of our U.S. citizen children. Because if you truly believe that the children are the future, you might be losing the CNMI’s best assets for a better future. These children of guest workers are usually the ones excelling in academics and sports. And these are the same children representing the CNMI in regional competitions and coming home most of the times with pride and honor for the islands. They may not have the blood of Chamorros or Carolinians but their love for this island as their own homeland runs in their blood too. They got the privilege to be called the citizens of the world’s greatest nation, but please give them the privilege to stay here together with their parents.

Even some of the guest workers have been representing the CNMI in international competitions, whether in sports or in the arts, and have proven themselves champions in their fields. This helps the CNMI to be better known in some parts of the world.

And if what you are saying is true, that once federalization kicks in, there would be more stability in the CNMI economy, then the more you would need us. We have proven ourselves to be survivors — we have remained here throughout the CNMI’s economic ups and downs.

We may not be the best guest workers in the world, but we have tried and worked very hard to do the best we can to keep the CNMI economy afloat.

We have endured the name calling yet we have opted to stay and work here because we are believers of equality.

As Gono, Saipan


Ron Hodges said...

I second the motion.

ironic ira said...

The irony of illustrating a celebration of PL 110-229 with a picture of "We the people" is striking.

Anonymous said...

All 'aliens' are people. I like the picture. Maybe it will reminds everyone about the constitution and that it applies to residents and 'aliens'.

Melberlin said...

It seems that some racist people here have a penchant of enjoying that guest workers always be a guest workers... but we begin to feel that the rope tied in our hands is loosening.

Anonymous said...

The United States is in the midst of a major recession. Absorbing thousands of 'guest workers' into our welfare system is not going to happen. There are enough US Citizens that need help who live and work everyday to try and make ends meet. It really disturbs me to think that DHS will spend millions of US Tax payer monty on 'guest workers' 'path to citizenship' when there are hungry US Citizen children who need the money. This needs to be brought to the attention of DHS. Where will these people work in the US? They will certainly leave Saipan for Guam or the mainland. What will they do? Jobs are scarce. US Citizens need jobs NOW and must come first. In five to ten years when the recession is over and the economy is strong, then sure bring them in, but not now.

Anonymous said...

DHS isn't going to spend millions of dollars on anybody. They charge fees for everything they do, and that's as it should be.

As for absorbing alien workers in our "welfare system," that's not going to happen, because the new law only allows necessary workers to stay, to supplement the local workforce. People who can't or won't find jobs will have to go back to their home country.

Anonymous said...

common guys,

whether you like it or not some aliens will be absorbed because they have more brains and will be more useful compared to non aliens. USA is not stupid not to see their potentials, they will be "cuddling" those who will be useful for them. in addition, fees will be collected from them, it wont be free!!!!!!!!!!!!! suck it!

Anonymous said...

"absorbing thousands of guest workers into our welfare system is not going to happen" Sooo TRUE!

why? because, the reason we want to stay is so we can work and earn our keep in a decent way. we have no intention of sitting under a guava tree and wait for the fruit to fall and become part of the welfare system. back home we had a dream of improving our lives and we knew the only way we can achieve it is by working hard. work hard we did and still do and will keep on doing because that is what we are - hardworking people. - and will always be that wherever we end up in the future.


Melberlin said...

Now I know why a grueling campaign to block the grandfathering or improving the status of a long term guest workers is so intense, because these racists think that guest workers will cut the welfare they are enjoying... that is absurd, inconsistent with the logic and profusely humorous...

lutgario said...

There has been a lot of comment about opposition to residency or citizenship rights for alien workers being "racist." In light of such comments, let me pose a question:

The Philippine Administrative Naturalization Law of 2000, imposes the following conditions, among others, for naturalization as a citizen of the Philippines:

"The applicant must be able to read, write and speak Filipino or any of the dialects of the Philippines."

"The applicant must have mingled with the Filipinos and evinced desire to learn and embrace the customs, traditions and ideals of the Filipino people."

First question: Are these requirements "racist?"

Second question: If similar conditions were imposed for improved immigration status in the CNMI, with the Chamorro and Carolinian people and their languages being substituted for those of the Philippines, would that be "racist?"

I recognize that no such proposal is currently on the table, but I am inclined to think it would be a good idea. Your thoughts?

Anonymous said...

To above:

One of the best reads in a long, long time. Keep it coming.

Anonymous said...

to lutgario,

1st & 2nd questions are not racist. good points in fact!

We are talking about acquiring US Citizenship here not Chamorro & Carolinian Citizenship. We mingle, still mingling, will mingle with Americans. We can sing the Star Spangled Banner, we can recite the Pledge of Allegiance,we can read and write English, we can sing English songs, we know the US history. Do you want me to go on and on and on?

You are so selfish with US citizenship were in fact you were not US Citizen before!

Venusa Saturnina

Anonymous said...

To, Lugario, there is a similar process requirement for all foriegn nationals to become US Cit. They have to know much more than most of the High School and college people know about US history along with a test.

By the way, a while back the US took the Chinese off of the "H" visa work program. Todays Guam PDN has the rules and restrictions etc.

There will be no more Chinese, Hong Kond Taiwan etc. to get any work visa for Guam and the US.

When NMI comes under Feds in Nov. this will be inforced here also.

So what is going to happen to the Chinese business', Dynasty,the planned new Casino projects, the other small business' etc.

If these business stay, they will have to hire US or Phil. Also they will have to pay "real" wages like the NMI Govt.

wendy said...


Can you email me your phone number? I misplaced it -sorry! Hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

at your service mam!

paul said...

Venusa's comment highlights a question that has rarely been addressed: Do foreign workers want to be able to stay/live/work/settle/vote/own land/etc. HERE (in the CNMI) because it is their HOME, or do they want to do such things anywhere in the US (where most have never been), because of the greater opportunities there?

These are not necessarily the same thing, and I think there is some difference of opinion on the subject among the foreign workers themselves. This emerged briefly during last year's attempt to create a long-term status under CNMI law. When that attempt fizzled after the passage of the federalization law, however, the issue re-submerged.

That has enabled some people to(consciously or not) operate in the ambiguity, using the rhetoric of "home" (the first choice above) in order to achieve what is really the second choice.

Anonymous said...

No one wants CNMI permanent residency. For what? U.S. green cards are the only status we want.

true or false? said...

True or false:

Malou's letter is how a lot of people talk ("their love for this island as their own homeland runs in their blood," etc.), but the comment of Anonymous above is how a lot of the same people really think.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps anonymous means that there is NO CNMi residency and it is not a consideration. Even if there were CNMI status it would not apply when federalization kicks in.

Anonymous said...

The feds could arrange it.

However, that would likely be opposed by NMD and FNW (foreign national worker) alike.

Anonymous said...

wendy, where did rabby's group get the idea or knowledge that some guest workers group wants somebody else to represent them in an oversight hearing on may 19? i didn't here boni's group or ernest's group or the unity march working group stating that!!!!
they have to clear this things out!
btw, i am talking about the press release they made. published sa m.variety today page 6.
i am personally would like to thank you for all your efforts and the efforts you are still exerting for the CNMI GW...thank you very much...

wendy said...

Hi Malou

Thank you too for all you do. There is often confusion in the press. I certainly have been misquoted lots of times.

Let me say this -it is a good thing if lots of people step up to represent the guest workers and nonresidents by writing letters and submitting testimony. The more the better!

I am not a witness at the hearing as I told everyone Saturday evening. I am going to DC to witness the hearing, as I always do. I have appointments the day before the hearing and then I am attending the hearing and submitting my short testimony and the amazing letters from the guest workers, nonresidents, US citizen children and US citizens that support all of you. The beautiful letters speak for themselves and will allow your voices to be heard in Washington. It is always an honor to represent the guest workers, whether they belong to a guest worker group or not!