Chamber's Predictable Take on Delay


October 7, 2009


Fifty days before the implementation of PL 110-229 the Saipan Chamber of Commerce has written letters to 70 members of the U.S. Congress asking for support of Congressman Sablan's bill which calls for a delay of the law for over one full year. DHS and key figures in Congress reportedly oppose further delay.

Once again the call for a delay mentions the Chinese and Russian visa waivers. The Chamber reiterates the argument that the "federal agencies are not ready to implement the law" even though Secretary Napolitano and other federal officials have assured members of Congress, CNMI officials, and key staffers that they are ready.

The fact that DHS has not reversed their decision on Chinese and Russian visa waivers appears to be a main reason behind the call for a delay.

The Saipan Tribune quotes Chamber President Arenovski as supporting the foreign investors:
"He said many of the CNMI's foreign investors have been on the islands for decades and have contributed greatly to the local economy."
The same should be said for the thousands of long-term foreign contractor workers, however in his May 19, 2009 testimony Arenovski opposed green cards for long term guest workers.

In the Chamber's September 2009 newsletter Arenovski gave his analysis of August meetings with visiting members of the U.S. Congress, key staffers, and federal officials:
A positive note from the meeting, and Congressman Rahall, was that he would support what our congressman, Kilili, thinks is best for the NMI with regard to addressing the shortcomings of the CNRA.

Our next visitor was David Gulick of USCIS. David did not bring any new news for workers or investors, since regulations are still not published. However, he did make three statements of note: (1) the Investor regulations may be out in a few weeks (that was a few weeks ago), (2) there is a good chance there will no public comment on the foreign worker regulations, and (3) he is currently drafting contingency plans in case DHS is not fully ready to implement on November 28. Out of the three comments, the last one scared us the most. For an agency who has had a year and a half, it looks like there are still many unknowns, with less than 90 days left until implementation.

We also met with Secretary of the Navy Mabus, Navy Admiral Biesel and Marine General McMillian and asked for some clarification on the security issues raised by DHS with respect to the bases on Guam. They made it clear that the U.S. military can take care of their bases and DHS must be referring to higher level security issues.

Lastly, we had a lunch meeting with Allen Stayman, his Republican counterpart Isaac Edwards, and Steve Sanders of OIA. I t is clear Allen does not want a delay in the implementation of CNRA regulations regardless of the status of DHS regulations, and we are deeply concerned that he would not support a delay so that regulations could be implemented correctly.
After these visits it is clear that Allen Stayman, Brian Modeste and David Gulick interpret the foreign labor portion of the law differently. Brian believes the H visa program offers the solution to all our foreign labor problems, David Gulick sees the CNMI transitional worker designation as a work permit valid ONLY while in the NMI and with no ability to reenter the NMI if such a worker temporarily departed, Allen Stayman disagreed with both and indicated that the H visa was NOT the fix to our labor issues, and thought more effort is needed to train a local workforce as well as recruiting more workers from the FSM (and also that he believes transitional workers should have the ability to depart and return to the NMI). It is all as clear as mud and I guess we will all have to wait and see.

Regardless of whether you favor the CNRA or not - implementing this complicated law looks less likely to be complete by November 28 and I urge everyone to express to your Congressman "Kilili" Sablan to DELAY NOW! Mr. Stayman's comment of "get on with it" is simply wrong and misinformed...
Arenovski previously lobbied with Lynn Knight in an effort to defeat the passage of federal immigration and minimum wage legislation.

26 comments:

Boy Scout Archiver said...

Check out you tube video about Guam Visa Waiver program:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07Ooe0Y81-0

Anonymous said...

Who is this boy scout? Russia and China do not get into the US without visas. Who said they are not ready?

the teacher said...

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce has repeatedly opposed improving the status of CGWs and would oppose a nickel wage increase for local workers here.

Since federalization is now imminent, the Chamber is between a rock and a hard place. They don't want workers deported because the laws of supply and demand will prevail and that means they would need to hire more local kids and greatly increase their wages. They also don't want unrestricted workers because those workers would be FREE to change employers, go to Guam or the mainland, or work two jobs based on their skills and ability.

To stall federalization would mean to continue the status quo of servitude here.

We must remember that members of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce conspired to bribe the US House of Representatives with money earned off the backs of impoverished laborers, many of which were abused, and others remain unpaid. The Abramoff bribery scandal involved Tom Delay and an assorted cast of lowlife crooks. Fortunately they are slowly being prosecuted.

It was a Democratic Congress that took action to end the story of shame that has haunted residents of the Northern Marianas Islands for a generation, so I can’t imagine that the US would allow us to continue the status quo of servitude here.

On a brighter note, check out a new blog at

www.saipanrealty.blogspot.com or join Saipan Real Estate on facebook and upload your own pictures of the fabulous Saipan.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI economy is still in free-fall.

There currently is an extreme surplus of unskilled workers in the CNMI. Most need to move on.

Anonymous said...

Those workers without jobs may need to go, but be careful what you wish for. After the takeover if the economy does pick up and the business owners start looking for workers again let's hope they can find any. Those workers who devoted years of their life to building the NMI economy may have moved on to greener pastures where they will be treated better and have a chance for status. NMI has a reputation in host countries as being a hell hole for workers. If the workers leave, as many will, NMI may not be their first choice as a place to land a job.

Anonymous said...

Why is it that the Chamber is so supposedly important? For many years it was the puppet of the garment industry and special interests. Now it is beholden to the self serving businesses protecting their turf. Name one business whose interest is to promote local ownership or management in business? Name one business where a contract worker has risen up the ranks to become a manager?

The Chamber is nothing but a Chamber of Horrors and its cycle of officers keep showing up associated with the history of destruction. Can you say Lynn Knight?

Anonymous said...

The chamber is a club with a self-serving agenda. Their agenda is to make sure they keep their own pockets full.

Anonymous said...

They can send 700 letters. They haven't got a shot in hell of convincing Congress to support a delay.

Kilili really blew this one. He has effectively aligned himself with Fitial and groups who support the governor. Did you see the CREAM mock vote results?

Anonymous said...

Arenovski of Shell mafia and the Mobil mafia just dropped the price of gas 10 cents/gal on Saipan....

Anonymous said...

Arenovski aka: "The Gas Godfather." Lord of the Chamber. King of the Kingdom of "Me First."

Anonymous said...

CREAM = pawns of the Gov. Leaders work for Fitial

Anonymous said...

Who is CREAM?

They never said a word during the entire movement until they helped organize the rally with Kilili. Who exactly is their leadership? Do they vote or are they illegals trying to cut a scam deal with Fitial?

Maybe they work for the chamber:)

Anonymous said...

The US Congress knows well that the Chamber of Commerce here has no credibility whatsoever and no respectable company or person would belong.

mark said...

I read some of the above comments with some amusement. I wonder if the people making these comments have jobs in the real world, as in, not a Government job. The contract workers of the CNMI are generally hardworking, loyal and good residents of the CNMI. It seems that alot of people on this blog want them to get green cards and citizenship status in the US. That's fine, but he CNMI has nothing to do with it and neither does the Chamber. The Chamber of Commerce represents some business that EMPLOY contract workers. If there is no tourism their will not be a need for jobs and the contract workers leave and go back to their home country. Good Luck getting any US status when that happens. The Chamber and other organizations need to work to KEEP THE MONEY FLOWING. Is that so hard to understand? Of course, if you have a Government job it probably because you know that people like me pay your wages. The federalization train is going to come to the station, but let's make sure when it pulls out it does not take our economy, as well as alot of contract workers, with it.

Wendy said...

Hello Mark

I absolutely want the long-term guest workers to have green cards. I believe that any just and democratic guest worker program (whether in the CNMI or the U.S. mainland) must contain a provision for long-term foreign workers to have a pathway to citizenship should they want one. I correspond with and travel to DC to meet face-to-face with officials and there are many who support status for long-term guest workers - those in the CNMI and in the mainland.

Thanks for the wish for "good luck". I will continue to advocate for comprehensive immigration reform to stop the disgusting systems that support disposable workers, indentured servitude and a disenfranchised underclass.

Keeping money flowing is fine but not at the expense of cheap (as in let's keep that minimum wage low so we can reap higher profits) and too often abused foreign workers. I don't know who you are, but as far as "people like you paying the wages" of those with a government job, you may consider that every foreign contract worker also pays taxes.

The "federal train" is not going to damage the already damaged CNMI economy. It may clean up the system, curb corruption, and end nepotism.

Anonymous said...

How, pray tell, will federalization of immigration and minimum wages "clean up the system, curb corruption, and end nepotism"?!!!

Those are wholly separate issues. Yes, the feds should have been enforcing federal law here better for three decades, and need still more resources to do so, but that has absolutely nothing to do with immigration and wages.

Anonymous said...

For starters:

1. There will be no one inside labor or immigration fixing papers for friends or relatives

2. Positions will be based on qualifications, not on political and family ties

3. Laws will be enforced and there will be a stronger federal presence

Anonymous said...

#2 and #3 have nothing to do with immigration or wages.

#1 was already illegal, and could have been prosecuted for the last 30 years.

Perhaps such activity within the Transition Program will be less likely, but then again, the details have not been announced and the bad guys will still be trying. Even within areas that are under federal control, we still have crime in the CNMI.

Federalization is not a panacea.

mark said...

I will say this, the USA is usually a fair country when it comes to situations like this. What I mean is I don't think they will kick anybody out of the CNMI (except, of course, criminals)just becuase they are a contract worker. The USA just does not operate that way even if they wanted to. On the other side of the coin, I don't see the USA giving contract workers any enhanced status. The "Pathway to Citizenship" I don't believe was discussed with these people when they signed up to come over here. If it was, then it is dispute between the CNMI, the recruiter/employer, and the person, not the USA government.
I will 100% agree that there is no excuse to abuse a worker of any kind and I am sure that has happened in the past and probably continues to happen until today, although I do believe at much lower level.
I think rasing the minimum wage is fine and federalization will hopefully take care of some of the current abuses. However, I do not think that this translates into "everyone get a green card because the CNMI mistreated some people in a system that we did not control".
I don't know if I agree with you that "any just and democratic guest worker program should have a provision for citizenship", but let's assume that it should. Then I think that is what the contract workers will get. The CNMI, not the USA,is the one that adminstered the program, not the USA, so they should be able to live and work...in the CNMI. The USA's part starts bright and early on November 28th. Let's hope they do a good job.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 12:03 I said, "It may clean up the system, curb corruption, and end nepotism." I did NOT say that those issues were specifically connected to immigration and the economy. However, they are connected to the dysfunctional labor and immigration system.

Anonymous 12:34 I agree that those are some problems that have a chance of being erased or lessened under federalization.

Anonymous 4:03 No one said that federalization was a panacea, but I expect that it will be better (eventually) for everyone than the corrupt, dysfunctional, unjust system in place now. You said, "#1 was already illegal, and could have been prosecuted for the last 30 years. " Anonymous 12:34 is correct. That's the point. Under the current system such practice has not been stopped and few have been arrested. The federal officials claim it is under CNMI immigration law if you ask them to take action. There are people right now, TODAY fixing papers in immigration.

Mark: The CNMI is U.S. soil. For over two decades the U.S. government has allowed the systematic abuse of thousands of foreigners. Members of the U.S. Congress working with CNMI officials and a corrupt, now imprisoned lobbyist blocked legislation to institute reform. In 2000 legislation that offered a pathway to citizenship and federalization was passed unanimously in the U.S. Senate and was killed in the House (Abramoff, Delay, Fitial, Schaffer, Doolittle, Young, etc.) The provision that contained status for long-term workers was removed from PL 110-229 by Fitial, Guam and CNMI nativist friends, and lobbyists. The CNMI does not decide the status, the U.S. Congress does and will. The slaves were never promised anything either, but eventually good and moral people did the right thing. I have confidence that the U.S. government will do the right thing and I will continue to advocate for a pathway to citizenship. I am sure it will be a bumpy start in November, but there will be people like me watching and suggesting any changes that need to be made.

Anonymous said...

Before they were allowed to vote women were never promised that right either.

The TT citizens were never promised citizenship before they negotiated it with the US and signed a Covenant establishing that promise. Mark is failing to see that the grandfathering provision is just that - it would grant foreigners who have been living legally in the CNMI for more than 5 years prior to federal takeover of immigration a pathway to citizenship as long as they met set criteria that would be available to the same foreigners who live legally in the CNMI for a period of 5 or more years after federal takeover of immigration.

It is not unheard of. They did the same thing in the Virgin Islands. The US has actually granted US citizenship to millions of people that have never been PROMISED it over the last century.

Every time a foreign child is adopted by a US citizen they get a pathway to citizenship that was not previously PROMISED to them. Every time a foreigner marries a US citizen they get a pathway that was not PROMISED them prior. Many other similar circumstances abound.

Mark, many people believe that having a worker reside in the CNMI for 20+ years and set down pretty firm roots (I think anyone would for that period) get deported would be pretty abusive. I mean really think about that. You are right it wasn't promised but deporting someone that has legally been working and living in the CNMI for 10 15 or 20 years? To me that is highend abuse and should not be allowed to happen.

The transition phase gives the Federal Government a chance to weigh everything and come up with the best solution. Why not have that solution be a pathway to citizenship? If you are against it, shouldn't you also be against the foreigner who married or was adopted getting UN-PROMISED citizenship?

Wendy said...

Annonymous 10:54

Great comment!

Anonymous said...

Mark, Wendy, and the teacher all made reasonable comments here.

Anonymous said...

Mark,

You said, " It seems that alot of people on this blog want them to get green cards and citizenship status in the US. That's fine, but [t]he CNMI has nothing to do with it and neither does the Chamber."

Sounds to me like you are attempting to wash the hands of the Chamber. The truth is that they do play a part in whether the Improved Status is granted to long term guest workers. So do the rest of the CNMI. We can make comments. We can lobby. The CNMI successfully lobbied for decades to retain control of our immigration. The Chamber helped a great deal.

The organized Chamber of Commerce sent their president to directly lobby congress at various hearings. Jim Aranovski, the president of the Chamber of Commerce, flew out to DC to directly tell the members of Congress at a hearing "not to grant a pathway to citizenship to our long term guest workers". Is our memory that short? He sat there and lobbied against it. So did the Governor. In the past so has Lynn Knight, Abramoff and many others.

So I believe you are being incredibly naive (or in a state of denial) to state that the Chamber has "nothing to do" with whether long term guest workers get grandfathered in. If that was so then why have they said anything at all?

The end result will be decided by US congress but we all have some type of impact on what the end decision may be. If we all in unison initially did not oppose the Grandfathering Provision that was included in every bill that the US House and the US Senate had drafted for the past 15 years it would most likely have been a reality today.

The fact is that our Chamber influenced its removal from the final bill that was passed. Don't wash their hands for them. I am pretty sure they want the island to see the dirt that still exists pinning them with this great act of lobbying, just as Abramoff was proud of his ability to stave off immigration takeover for so many years and just as our current governor was proud of the "great job" Abramoff did and now the Chamber has done.

little full of yourself? said...

9:56 What an accomplishment! OH HEROES OF SAIPAN! WE BOW TO THEE GREAT CHAMBER! NOT!

The Saipan Chamber is made up of greedy, self-serving, unfeeling, arrogant business people who chase money like greyhounds chasing rabbits on a stick. The devil wields power too. So what?

It is not an accomplishment to lobby and win when you have the big bucks of Tan and the others who want to keep the status quo to keep their money flowing into their pockets. Especially when your opponents are the very people that the Chamber and their ilk deliberately kept down, poor, and powerless. Great job. Great evil job. Be proud oh great Saipan Chamber.

the teacher said...

Kudos to the above 2 comments...the are worthy of Chamberonomics titles.