United Voice for Improved Status

August 6, 2009

SUNDAY, AUGUST 9, 2009 at 3:00 p.m.
FISHING BASE in front of the Kristo Rai Church


The CODEL's three-day schedule in Saipan is laid out in the Saipan Tribune:
The three-day visit to the CNMI of the Committee on Natural Resources CODEL comes just 112 days before the Nov. 28, 2009, implementation date of the federal immigration system in the Marianas and the problems of implementation are sure to be the topic of discussion between the CODEL and government and business leaders here.

Joining Rahall and Kilili in the CODEL are Rep. Eni Faleomavaega (D-AS), chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment; Rep. Madeleine Z. Bordallo (D-GU), chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans & Wildlife; Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC), ranking member of the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans & Wildlife; and Rep. Donna M. Christensen (D-USVI), member of the Energy & Commerce and Natural Resources committees and second vice chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Reporter Haidee Eugenio from The Saipan Tribune is writing a series on the nonresidents' quest for better treatment and status. The first article of the series was published today and is well worth reading.

A segment from the article:
Rene Reyes, 37, remembers too well the day he visited his child's graveyard at the Chalan Kanoa public cemetery when some local residents yelled at him and taunted him to “dig up your child” and “bury her in the Philippines.”

“I was crying, hearing those hurtful words. I couldn't forget that day. I didn't realize that people could be so mean to others,” he said in an interview.

With no one to turn to at that time, he called a lawmaker who was a neighbor, asking him to intervene, especially when one of the people bullying him, a woman, got more aggressive. That lawmaker, whom he asked not to be named in the paper, passed by and greeted him, quelling the tension at the cemetery. The woman turned out to be the lawmaker's aunt.

Reyes, now a father of a 6-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl, said some members of the local community have yet to treat guest workers as their equal, despite their social and economic contributions to the CNMI.

His quest for better treatment of foreign workers in the CNMI comes at a time when a large sector of the community is seeking improved or stable immigration status under a federal system starting Nov. 28.

Just like many others, Reyes fears losing his job when the transition to federalization begins, forcing him to choose between leaving his U.S. citizen children on Saipan or bringing them with him back to the Philippines and losing their privileges as U.S. citizens, including free public education.

“I am hoping that long-term alien workers are granted improved status, like permanent residency under the U.S. system, and a pathway to citizenship as what we have long been asking the federal government,” said Reyes, who is the president of the Coalition of United Workers NMI.

Invitation from Representative Tina Sablan

"We may have all come on different ships, but we're in the same boat now."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dear friends,

This Sunday, August 9, 2009 beginning at 3:00pm at the Garapan Fishing Base across Kristo Rai Church, there will be an historic gathering of diverse groups consisting of both nonresidents and U.S. citizens from throughout our community, to welcome the visiting U.S. Congressional Delegation hosted by our U.S. Congressman Gregorio Sablan.

The purpose of this assembly is to appeal to the delegation to support legislation granting improved status for the thousands of guest workers, immediate relatives, FAS citizens, CNMI permanent residents, stateless citizens born in the CNMI between 1974 and 1978, and others who presently face uncertain status. The future status of these members of our community bears enormous implications for the future of the CNMI's families, workforce, and businesses, and for our efforts to build a stronger, more sustainable, and more democratic commonwealth.

We welcome and urge all who support the cause for improved status to come and be counted at this momentous event.

Kudos to the Saipan City Taxi Association for offering free transportation going to the assembly! Pickup points will be in front of the Pacific Islands Club and in front of Aqua Resort at 30-minute intervals starting from 1:00pm until 3:00pm. Carpooling is also encouraged. Those interested in donating drinking water or other supplies may call 989-3306. Please wear white and bring an umbrella.

Thanks very much, and we hope to see you on Sunday.


Tina Sablan


Anonymous said...

Our chance is here! BE THERE AND BE COUNTED!

Anonymous said...

The more important time to be counted will be the registration of all aliens by DHS after November 28, 2009.

If you're not on that list, you can't possibly qualify for any potential change of status.

Alien registration is important. And it's the law.

Melberlin said...

"And it's the law" huh? Atty, how did millions of aliens happened to be illegals in the US and now they are being considered to legalized?

Fed Lover said...

Public Law 110-229, § 702(a), 48 U.S.C. § 1806(e)(3) (DHS discretionary registration requirement) applies only in the CNMI, not the mainland U.S.

But the relevant agencies have not promulgated their transition program regulations in the Federal Register, even as the Saturday, November 28, 2009 Transition Program Effective Date (TPED) draws ever-closer. However, there is no statutory deadline for them to do so with respect to Transition Program workers. Public Law 110-229, § 702(a), 48 U.S.C. § 1806(a)(4).

This is unlike the deadline for DHS regulations for non-immigrant investor visas, which are required to be published in the Federal Register no later than 60 days before the TPED, or Tuesday, September 29, 2009. Public Law 110-229, § 702(a), 48 U.S.C. § 1806(c)(2).

You are right, Melberlin, about one thing. While CNMI alien registration “is the law,” it is still discretionary with DHS, which has not yet required it. And, yes, there theoretically could be a general amnesty, like what happened in 1986. But I wouldn't waste years of my life waiting around for such a possibility.

Of course, such registration would greatly help Interior complete its report on status due to Congress by May 8, 2010. Public Law 110-229, § 702(a), 48 U.S.C. § 1806(h). This would facilitate a CNMI-only status adjustment law.

But that's Interior's problem, right? Why would DHS want to help Interior?