Welcome to Saipan


















August 8, 2009

A Letter from Mr. Ron Hodges:

Chamberonomics 115…Welcome to Saipan

We have very special visitors this weekend. NMI Congressman Kilili Sablan will lead Congressional members to Saipan for oversight of the federalization of labor and immigration here. We are delighted to finally have representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. We also need assistance for our crisis in governance and cleaning the mess left by a generation of textile industry control of our homeland.

It took a landslide Democratic Congressional victory in 2006 to address and end the story of shame in the Northern Marianas Islands, promulgated by garment industry greed. The labor abuses, corruption, and bribery of the U.S. Congress are hopefully behind us now and a new era for the Marianas can begin. We would like to offer special thanks and appreciation to Rep. George Miller, Congresswoman Donna Christensen, Rep. Nick Rahall, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Senator Lisa Murkowski and others for their tireless efforts toward decency and justice here.

The residents of the Marianas are some of the friendliest and most hospitable people you will ever meet. It was that friendly nature, trust, and lack of experience in business that enabled the foreign owned textile industry to control our government. Garment revenues fueled a plastic economy in the NMI, which afforded locals a socialized allotment system with a job title. The garment industry contributed 100 million plus per year payments to the CNMI government to guarantee an unlimited supply of cheap unrepresented foreign labor in the CNMI. Our nonproductive government positions are nothing but fraud. Politicians will not admit this because CNMI employees are their voter base. The last factory closed in January of 2009 and the fuel driving this economic plan has ended. Our disproportionately small middle class of government workers is unfunded and unsustainable. We must force the private sector to employ local citizens and continue to escalate our minimum wage.

We had just over nine thousand voters in our last election. Many voters no longer live here. For our small population we have unjustifiable costs for representation. We have Senators with a half million dollars in yearly discretionary spending accounts, we have a score of House members receiving between 150k and 400k, we have multiple Mayors that can appoint 80 friends and relatives to bogus jobs and our Mayors have unimaginable budgets, and we have multiple paid municipal councils. This is also fraud. One city manager could replace them all. One ethical Representative here has proposed a part-time or unpaid legislature, but we will never have a majority of our Congress show that level of integrity. We need immediate help in management and accountability here.

The textile industry did not invest their enormous profits back into our infrastructure and our dilapidated systems are inadequate, crumbling, and a disgrace. Our administration is scrambling to hire more employees because this is an election year, while kids in our homestead areas do not have potable water. Bottled water here can cost more than gasoline and many go without in this terrible situation. If you need evidence of this, walk around our homestead areas and ask kids if they have one dollar and you will have the answer of our economic situation.

The consensus here is that U.S. immigration will not be equipped to deport hundreds of aliens operating cheap businesses here. The broken CNMI immigration system could not. Our labor abuses and nonpayment issues in the post garment era come from so many cheap businesses and illegal foreign operators infesting the CNMI. If the U.S. can do one thing to ensure a successful future for local children, it is getting rid of the remnants of the textile industry. We must strictly enforce U.S. investor visa laws.

A final concern still unanswered and causing much uncertainty is a key issue that initiated federal legislation, the reason we are here today, and that is what to do with legal contract guest workers. This administration and many foreign owned businesses don’t want them to leave, don’t want their wages to increase, don’t want them to have the right to change employers, and they still want to retain the status quo of servitude. Some want older CGWs deported because they are owed at least 6 million dollars in judgments for non-payment and to replace them with a younger class of guest worker. This is further complicated by the well being of thousands of U.S. citizen children who have resided here their entire lives. The only logical answer is to improve the status of legal workers here with an unobstructed path to U.S. citizenship.

My ancestors and many others boarded crowded ships and journeyed to America. Each had a different story to tell. The central theme may have been similar though, as each had hope for a new and better life for them and their family.

Guest workers here have exhibited unimaginable patience and have a claim to America that no other immigrants before them can boast. They can be proud that they have served their time. They have worked, labored, and toiled to build a part of America. America is a country of immigrants. No immigrants before them were brought to US soil with promises of work in America, and now, in many cases 20 years after their arrival, they still do not have working status in America. They do not have the freedom to change employers. They do not have the freedom to travel or move. They do not have the right to bring their family, including spouses and children to live beside them. They are a separate class of immigrant. They did not illegally cross the border into America. They are officially veterans of the Northern Mariana Islands, and whether they are Filipino, Bangladeshi, Chinese, or other, no immigrant group before them, not my ancestors or anyone else’s anywhere, can boast what they can.

Slave driving big business anti-federalists here like to change the subject when talking about the facts of their case. They like to change the subject to the impoverished situations in their country of origin, or tell about the US immigration issues in the SW and Florida borders. That is misleading, deceptive, and completely irrelevant to their story and their case. Remember, no immigrants, can boast what they can.

I can assure you, that every decent American that knows this story is proud of their contributions to America. I can assure you, that every decent American aware that you have long been denied unalienable human rights is outraged and we hope that justice, no matter how slow, will prevail here.

I believe the US should grant improved status or green cards for our long abused guest workers. I will never veer from the belief that they have already earned the right to an unobstructed path to US citizenship. Remember, no immigrants in U.S. history, not my ancestors or anyone else’s anywhere, can boast the accomplishments they can.

Again, welcome to the commonwealth and may your trip be enlightening and productive.

Ron Hodges

Saipan

Northern Marianas Islands

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

TO THE CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION:

PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO RON HODGES..HE IS IS JUST ANOTHER HOALY WHO LOVES SAIPAN BECAUSE IT IS VERY EASY TO FIND AN OBEDIENT WIFE. HE IS MARRIED TO A FILIPINA AND HE IS TRYING TO GET ALL HIS FILIPINA'S WIFE US CITIZENSHIP.

PLEASE LISTEN TO US WHO OWN THIS ISLAND. WE CAN ONLY TAKE SO MANY PEOPLE IN OUR LAND. TOO MANY FOREIGNER IN OUR ISLAND. OUR PEOPLE WILL EVENTUALLY BE DISPLACED! STOP THE INJUSTICE TO THE NATIVE CHAMORROS AND CAROLINIANS! SHAME ON YOU AMERICA FOR ALLOWING FOREIGNERS TO COME TO OUR LAND, HAVE BABIES HERE AND THEN BE ABLE TO VOTE IN OUR ELECTIONS. THIS IS NOT RIGHT!

Anonymous said...

ANONYMOUS RACIST. DON'T YOU KNOW THAT UNCLE BEN AND UNCLE WILLIE WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR BRINGING THE WORKERS HERE. THE GARMENT COMPANIES AND HOTEL OWNERS GOT RICH. ALL OTHERS JUST SUFFERED WITH BLACKOUTS AND OTHER FALLOUT FROM THEIR CRUMBLED INFRASTRUCTURE. RON WANTS IT TO STOP.

Anonymous said...

I AM NOT A RACIST! IMAGINE YOURSELF IN YOUR HOMELAND WITH FORIEGNERS MARCHING DEMANDING TO BE CITIZEN OF YOUR COUNTRY! PUT YOU YOURSELF IN OUR SHOES AND SEE HOW YOU WILL FEEL ABOUT IT.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! YOU GUYS CAME HERE TO WORK. YOU GOT PAID, YOUR CONTRACT ENDS, IT IS TIME TO SAY BYE BYE. YOU HAD FEW BABIES DURING YOUR TENURE IN THE CNMI? LUCKY YOU, BECAUSE WE SCHOOLED YOUR KIDS, GAVE THEM FOOD STAMPS, AND MEDICAID. WHAT THE HELL MORE DO YOU WANT? YOU WANT TO BE CITIZEN OF THE US OF A? THEN ASK RON HODGES TO BRING YOU TO HIS HOMETOWN SOMEWHERE IN THE STATES.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! WE LOCAL ARE NOT RACIST! WE ARE JUST FED UP OF ALL THESE OUTSIDERS DEMANDING THINGS IN OUR HOMELAND.

BIBI TAO TAO TANO!

Anonymous said...

When things go "South' in the islands, everyone plays the blame game and the most likely target is the "Americao" which roughly translates to haoles from the mainland.

The ugly truth is that the local government comprised of locally elected officials have been in charge of immigration to the Northern Marianas since 1978. There were very few non-resident workers in the CNMI prior to self government. The number of "Americanos" has never been greater than 5% of the population and it is now less than 2%.

I suggest that the racist who penned the first comment find another scapegoat and he or she does not have to look too far

How about taking a good look at the elected public officials who made the economic miracle known as the garment industry possible and brought such other benefits as maids, bar girls and Chinese hookers.

Who made Video Poker readily available in every village? The very people we continue to elect to public office did.

Who allowed pristine villages to become eyesores? The very people we continue to elect to public office did.

Who mismanaged CUC, CHC and every other government agency it go its hands on? The very people we continue to elect to public office did.

Is the picture getting any clearer racist commentator number l?

the teacher said...

I would guess the noni commentator is a business owner or chamber member spouting status quo propaganda and not a local. I fail to see where anything I said was anti-local, and I will list them below from the above text.

1. "We must force the private sector to employ local citizens and continue to escalate our minimum wage."

2."...while kids in our homestead areas do not have potable water. Bottled water here can cost more than gasoline and many go without in this terrible situation. If you need evidence of this, walk around our homestead areas and ask kids if they have one dollar and you will have the answer of our economic situation." (as opposed to the chamber economic theory)

3. "If the U.S. can do one thing to ensure a successful future for local children, it is getting rid of the remnants of the textile industry. We must strictly enforce U.S. investor visa laws."

I want the our community to improve and would someday like to see local islanders operating businesses along Beach Rd., Middle Rd, and Garapan instead of illegal foreign nationals with no immigtation status to operate here. I would think that is very pro-local no matter what spin the status quo crowd puts on it.

Anonymous said...

I am of th opinion that the US will improve the status of guest workers here but will not grandfather anyone and will not offer amnesty for anyone illegal.

We do have many people that came on tourist visas and then set up shop here. Those persons are not long time guest workers.

Fed Lover said...

Status quo -- an oppressive and racist conquering army of “guest workers” who disdain and despise the indigenous and have as little to do with locals as possible in their daily lives, who want to own and run all the CNMI business and government institutions, keeping the indigenous at the lowest rungs of society -- newly empowered by “improved status.”

Change -- send the guest workers back home. With the drastically downsized federalized economy, they are no longer needed. The vision of Ken Govendo has prevailed.

Fed Lover said...

We've been through this before.

The Feds sent home the Japanese, Koreans, and Okinawans in 1946 (who were all here legally) and they'll do the same with most of our current surplus labor.

The workers should be grateful the longer they got to live and work in paradise.

People can be so unappreciative of all their blessings, in their constant grasping for more. Some people are never happy until they've taken everything their neighbors (or hosts) own.

Shame on them, and on their shills like Ron Hodges. You reap what you sow.

Melberlin said...

To all Patriotic Impostors above claiming that they are receiving injustice and so on... just in case you forgot, Germans, then Japanese then the US conquer and control your island, that although they are not the same race as you, history did not provide evidence that you disdained them. It is clear that no matter what kind of race of people that come and control you it's OK as long as they are feeding you. Racist above are just mendicants and no intention of becoming their island into an independent government as long as they are just sitting, and drinking their beer is what all their dreaming.

captain said...

To the first commenter, Your comments to the US Delegation says much more than what you put into print. It shows a contradictory, racist attitude against the very country that finances the services that you and yours have a hand out to receive.
The attitude of "Welcome to Saipan, just drop your money and leave, we will call you when we need some more"

Take a look at the "influential" families and see where they got their money from, (on the surface)
Look at many in the local Government, past and present, and see what they have been into on the side.(That is why they don't want transparency) Look at how many labor officials have been involved with illegal schemes (most of that is hidden and swept under the carpets)
How many of the local immigration have been harassing and "borrowing" money from the incoming contract workers and tourists?(have been involved in a couple of these investigation "stings" at the airport, that have resulted in no prosecution because of the family name and/or connections.

on another note, look at the names of the people that are committing the crimes, past and present, at one time (maybe still now)contract workers outnumbered the locals, how many of these contract workers committed crimes in relation to the percent of locals and pacific islanders.
It sound like you are one of the many that have and not one of the have not's on the island.

Seems like you are very scared about the Feds coming because people like you will not be able to keep and abuse the workers and /or will have to get a job instead of collecting food stamps and medicaid.
One of the biggest thing that was noticeable, in the past, to many visitors and new residents was the amount of "house workers" that was in the local households (and farms) that cared for the house and yard, cooked and cleaned and were abused by the young kids and teens in the households along with being abused by many adults in the households' family. It seemed like everybody that worked for the local Govt had a house worker so they could spend time on the beach drinking beer and party, then hit the bars and poker machines, then not pay the worker, while all the relatives and other friends loaded up the homeworker with additional tasks and long hours.
This can go on and on, but you get the idea. (Most likely not)

the teacher said...

Many positive things have happened here for locals the past several years.

1. The foreign control of these islands is crumbling and near an end.
2. The garment factories are gone from this beautiful island and apparently 30k of the former 45k foreign workers.
3. The intent of the federalization law was to reduce the dependency on alien labor and reduce that number to zero over time.
4. We have an elected delegate to the US House that has already made his presence heard.
5. We have formed a Democratic Party here…not a fake one that aligns with the US GOP

I think locals, with the exception of Ben and a few others that profiteered on the status quo, will rejoice about this.

Federalization is right on schedule and will help 90% of the local citizens here over time. Don't worry, you will see.

Anonymous said...

And almost all the house workers will be sent home.

Thanks for nothing, Unity Marchers and haole instigators!

Anonymous said...

to 1:21 Looks like you guys will have to start doing something and also teach your kids some responsibility and "bond" with your kids instead of having them raised by a house worker.

Wow, this is horrible, unheard of, You will now have to clean up your own mess and learn how to cook, do the laundry, clean up the yard, wash the car, and tend the farm. More family time. No more time for poker machines and sitting on the beach drinking beer.
What has the no good Federales done to everybody.
My God,this is not right, think about this, you might even lose weight, save some money for needed thing for the family. Get to know your kids and who the rest of the familyare. Gee you will have to also feed your dog yourself (or not)
Looks like the island won't be able to survive like this. Above all of this extra work you will be too tired to hold a job down.
Unbelievable, welcome to the real world. Now don't you feel bad for the poor contract workers? So what is it, I know, let them stay and be abused and not paid. Why would anybody want them here when they take the jobs away from the overqualified "locals" Send all of the non indigenous home also. This NMI does not need anything from anybody (except money for beer)

Melberlin said...

"I AM NOT A RACIST! IMAGINE YOURSELF IN YOUR HOMELAND WITH FORIEGNERS MARCHING DEMANDING TO BE CITIZEN OF YOUR COUNTRY! PUT YOU YOURSELF IN OUR SHOES AND SEE HOW YOU WILL FEEL ABOUT IT."

Haha! it sounds like a small kid after receiving the candy, he cries when another kid is also asking another candy.... you've just granted the US citizenship only couple of years ago... are you not ashamed?
The US gov't granting US citizenship to all qualified people in the world, if you don't know; they are even giving thru green card lottery!

Anonymous said...

I wonder if anybody knows out there, who was the name of the legislature that pushed a bill to criminalized prostitution in the NMI in the 90's

Noni 1:21 PM said...

To Noni 2:11 -- I was talking about the houseworkers, not the employers.

We've built the CNMI as much as you.

Anonymous said...

The assembly went very well. Young speakers, not the usual Tina, Ron, and Steve, gave heartfelt testimony which seemed well received by the three Congresspersons present, Reps. Rahall, Christensen, and Kilili.

Thanks should be in order for their presence and for travelling here on their vacation.

Anonymous said...

Noni 4:42

i think it was Rep. Malua Peter

Anonymous said...

It was either former Representative Malua Peter or former Representative Anna S. Teregeyo. It was a while ago and the Department of Public Safety and the various AG's have come up with every excuse known to mankind not to enforce the law! Like so many other laws we have on the books, enforcement depends on who is in the Governor's Office and whether the AG has any balls!How many different laws were on the books earmarking funds for the Retirement Fund? Selective enforcement of laws is the rule not the exception and we are all the worse for it. If it were not for the US Attorney and the Federal District Court , the Northern Marianas would be just another dictatorship or third world country run by a few families. Oops! I think that we have achieved "third world country run by a few families "status already!

Anonymous said...

Without the US to provide food stamps, aid, and a federal court, we would be an outer island of PI and probably the most economically challenged.

cactus said...

Fed Lover makes an interesting point when he says: "We've been through this before. The Feds sent home the Japanese, Koreans, and Okinawans in 1946 (who were all here legally) and they'll do the same with most of our current surplus labor."

The post-war removal of Japanese civilians from Micronesia resulted in the separation of families for years, some forever. And that was not the only piece of population engineering by the US after the war. The US also undid patterns of inter-Micronesian migration that had gone on for decades under previous administrations, in one notable instance removing the entire long-resident Chamorro population from Yap to Tinian.

I don't know whether anything similar will happen now or not, but it does go to show you what the US is capable of doing when it is allowed the power to do it.

the teacher said...

Cactus raises some interesting points on migration patterns but undoing history or being blamed for sins of our fathers is not warranted either.

It would be hard to sell giving back Texas and CA in America or reparations for every Native and African American.

cactus said...

We can't undo history, but we don't have to repeat it.

Let's not do something now that we will end up apologizing for a hundred years from now, when it will (once again) be too late to do anything about it.

Fed Lover said...

It was a while ago and the Department of Public Safety and the various AG's have come up with every excuse known to mankind not to enforce the [anti-prostitution] law! Like so many other laws we have on the books, enforcement depends on who is in the Governor's Office and whether the AG has any balls! . . . . Selective enforcement of laws is the rule not the exception and we are all the worse for it. If it were not for the US Attorney and the Federal District Court , the Northern Marianas would be just another dictatorship or third world country run by a few families.

I agree that the USAO does a great job. Kilili needs to get more funding for the office and the federal law enforcement agencies in the CNMI so they can do even more. Two of the current four AUSAs are alumni of the OAG Criminal Division, Eric O'Malley and Jim Benedetto.

I disagree with your excuse-making assessment of the OAG Criminal Division, however. They have had and still have some good prosecutors, including the foregoing, Joe Taijeron, Kevin Lynch, Ed Buckingham, and others.

The problem with the anti-prostitution law is how it is drafted, how the judges interpret it, and law enforcement resources, including Chinese linguists. Selective enforcement of this law by the OAG Criminal Division is not the problem.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI has provided so much for so many over the past 30 years. It's truly unfortunate that people like Hodges, who spends the vast majority of his time rewriting pieces from their night-before Budweiser beginnings, are not grateful for what they've been given. No one should be resentful of anyone that tries to better themselves, but we should also not let the types like Hodges that try to capitalize on others talk with the air of indignant righteousness from their soapboxes. There have been good rights workers in the CNMI. He is not one of them.