Response to MV Story about Umbrella Permits and Deanne Siemer

October 18, 2009


Often comments reprinted in newspapers do not reflect the entire sentiment. I want to clarify once again my stand on umbrella permits and address some statements made by volunteer, Deanne Siemer.

Seimer said in the Marianas Variety article:
“Wendy’s intense political dislike of the governor should not blind her to the advantages the governor’s program offers foreign workers, and she should not give irresponsible advice from afar without consulting legal counsel who represent foreign workers right here in the commonwealth.”
Firstly, I am not basing my disagreement with the policy and program on any "political dislike of the governor." Secondly, yes, I did consult attorneys concerning the umbrella permits. I was told that the "agreement of the permit holder" that requires the guest workers to sign to agree to pay for their own repatriation and medical care is illegal. It is against PL 15-108. I do not feel that a document that is not legal should be presented to anyone to sign.

If the DOL or administration want to change the labor law then change the law, but don't ask foreign contract workers to sign documents that can harm them or is not in compliance with the labor law.

I have no disagreement with signing the permit if the language concerning the repatriation and medical expenses is removed. I doubt that it would offer any form of "security" or any real "benefit" to the guest workers, but it would most likely not harm them either if that was removed.

Deanne Siemer also said:
Four lawyers representing foreign workers are members of the Attorney General’s Protocol Working Group. The process of developing the commonwealth’s two-year permit program has been very inclusive of all points of view. I doubt that the Philippine consul-general would agree with Wendy’s advice. The consul-general’s office has been consulted in this process. I personally offered Wendy an opportunity to participate in the process. She never responded.”
I did respond to Ms. Siemer. She send me an email on September 9, 2009 which read:

-----Original Message-----
From: Deanne Siemer
Sent: Sep 9, 2009 11:45 AM
To: Wendy Doromal
Subject: Planning for transition to federalization
Wendy --
We are putting together a comprehensive plan for the transition to federalization,
whether the Commonwealth wins its challenge to implementation of the law or not.
There are various efforts at another delay in implementation, but the planning effort is going ahead based on the assumption that the November 28 date will govern.
In the process of putting together any policy document like this, I normally reach out to those who have an interest and can contribute substantively. The ground rules are the same for everyone: (1) no copying or distribution of the draft document to anyone until it is released publicly in final form; (2) no public comment on the draft document until it is released publicly in final form; and (3) no legislative lobbying until the final document is released. Once the document is made public in its final form, anyone is free to take any position or make any comment or do any lobbying that they want. The groundrules are intended only to allow people with diverse points of view to work together cooperatively to make the draft as good as possible under the circumstances.
I would value your insight and contribution as large parts of the planning document relate to foreign workers. My objective is to protect as many workers as possible for as long as possible from the threat of federal deportation because the Commonwealth needs people who have skills and owes protection to people whose families would otherwise be split up and who have built equity by long years of service. However, no implementation plan will be perfect from everyone's point of view. Let me know if the groundrules are acceptable, and I will send you the current draft.
Deanne

Date: Thu, 10 Sep 2009 05:19:12 -0400
From: doromal@-------
To: deannesiemer@------
Subject: Re: Planning for transition to federalization
MY RESPONSE:
Deanne -
Before I respond to your email, please can you tell me:
1. Who is the "we" in "We are putting together a comprehensive plan for the transition to federalization"?
2. Who is the leader, contact person?
3. What is the goal, purpose, and timeline?
4. Who would be the recipient of this plan or proposed policy?
5. Who authorized the writing of this plan? Is this from the Fitial Administration?

Thank you.
Wendy

From: Deanne Siemer [Add to Address Book]
To: Wendy Doromal
Subject: RE: Planning for transition to federalization
Date: Sep 10, 2009 8:46 AM
Wendy --
The plan is being produced as a public-private collaboration between government agencies involved in the transition -- Commerce, CPA, Immigration, Labor, Finance, the AG's office -- together with the private sector -- the Bar Assn, the Chamber, representatives of foreign workers, and representatives for foreign business owners.
A Task Force has been assembled under the AG's leadership to get the plan written and to work on implementing the plan before and after Nov. 28.
The guidance for developing the plan is this:
The Protocol should: (1) implement the transition smoothly with as little disruption and uncertainty as possible; (2) keep families together and treat affected persons fairly; (3) minimize adverse consequences to the recovery of the Commonwealth’s economy. The plan addresses the 90 days before transition and the 90 days after transition. It provides guidance for the Commonwealth's collective approach, as a community, to the problems raised by the transition.

You will have a chance to comment on the plan after it is produced so there is no need to worry on that score. However, just as a comment, advancing ideas after something is produced brings less chance that it will be modified than advancing ideas while something is being produced.

The Task Force has reached out to many private individuals who have either broad or niche interests affected by the transition. Everyone involved has agreed to the same ground rules that I sent you. No one's participation is acknowledged without their consent.

This is not an urgent matter. I reached out because you have broad knowledge of the problems of foreign workers and your input might help us avoid problems we might otherwise overlook. I recognize that working with a group including government officials might not be what you want to do.

The timetable for the plan is to complete the draft within the next two weeks. The timetable for implementation is, as above, the 90 days prior to and the 90 days after the transition. It appears that there may be another postponement of implementation, and the plan will be adapted if that happens.
Deanne
Deanne Siemer
Managing Director Wilsie Co. LLC
4242 Mathewson Dr. NW Washington, D.C. 20011
I did not agree to joining this group because of the ground rules, the vagueness of who the specific participants were, and the vagueness of the report's purpose. Because of the ground rules and not knowing who other members were I felt that joining such a group would be like working blindfolded. It did not make sense to me to agree not to discuss the draft with other interested parties, including the guest workers who would be greatly impacted by the protocol. Furthermore, I do not trust Ms. Siemer as I have witnessed her questionable dealings with Rep. Tina Sablan, unwarranted letters and remarks criticizing the Ombudsman Office, letters and reports that she has written on behalf of the Department of Labor, and her stand on issues concerning the guest workers.

Ms. Siemer said:
The Department of Labor said the two-year permit will help stabilize the workforce, protect employers and employees, and prevent undue damage to the economy.
If this was the true goal of Ms. Siemer and the Administration they would support granting U.S. status to the guest workers. She still did not explain exactly how this benefits the workers.

Anyone is free to sign anything that they want to sign! If a guest worker feels that they will benefit from the permit, by all means sign. I said, "I would absolutely not recommend signing the permit." How could I recommend signing a permit if it contains a provision that could be illegal?

Before the controversial provision was an issue in umbrella permits, it was an issue in the extended transfers. I informed Ms. Siemer that guest workers complained to me that they were told at the DOL window that they must sign a paper giving up their rights to have their employers pay their repatriation and medical costs if they wanted a TWA. She sent me a copy of the cover sheet which also contains those same provisions which I object to being included in the umbrella permit. Here is the email exchange:
-----Original Message-----
From: Wendy Doromal

Date: Thu, 3 Sep 2009 09:24:04
To:

Deanne:

The cover sheet violates PL 15-108 Section 4954(a) which states "the last employer of record of a foreign worker shall be responsible for the cost of repatriating the worker. " You cannot have guest workers sign that paper, because it is a violation of the law. Why doesn't DOL go after the employers and ensure that they have a return ticket? How can a poor worker even be expected to come up with money for a ticket? That is totally unreasonable. I am certain that this cover sheet is what the guest workers have been complaining about. Please remove this statement about repatriation from the cover sheet.

Thanks

Wendy

RESPONSE:
Deanne Siemer
To: Wendy Doromal
Subject: Re: Variety: Doromal: Use Garment Funds for Food, Shelter, MedicalCare, Scholarship
Date: Sep 3, 2009 8:57 AM

Wendy --

If we removed that statement then we would not be able to give extensions of time to transfer. The worker will only be responsible for their own repatriation ticket if we cannot get the ticket from the employer or the bonding company. The only way I could get agreement in the community for any extensions of time to transfer was by crafting this compromise. We met with the foreign worker leaders before we ever put this into place. This reassurance to the community was their idea.

The extensions of time to transfer are benefiting a lot of workers but there is no provision for this benefit in the law. If the compromise fell apart, then legislators would demand that the letter of the law be enforced and all foreign workers who fail to transfer within 30 days of the termination of their contract would be repatriated.

No worker has yet had to pay anything as we have always been able to get the ticket from the employer or the bonding company. Hopefully we will also have the Garment Trust Fund as a source.

Better to work with the community when you can. This is not something that can be forced on them. The lawyers who represent foreign workers also agree this is a substantial benefit.

Deanne
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
I asked several of the worker leaders, and none said they were consulted about this, approved it, or had talked to Ms. Siemer. In fact, two of the worker leaders brought this issue to my attention, because they had objected to it. I do not know what lawyers support something that appears to be in violation of the law.

My remarks to the Marinas Variety included this statement that was not printed, "There is a question as to whether or not the permit program is even legal and whether or not the program would even be recognized by the federal government, which is yet another reason not to sign the permit. The legality of such a program needs to be explored before the permits are even printed."

One person left this comment on a previous post about the umbrella permits that should also be considered:
Giving workers permits for a number of years and allowing them to transfer will give them and the employers a bit of cushion or stability. But whether this is good policy or not is irrelevant. It's contrary to both CNMI law and the new federal law. Under the CNMI labor law, workers can only transfer in a few limited circumstances, and the employers and bonding companies are responsible for medical care and repatriation. Under the new federal law, whatever permit or status you have on November 28 is all you get. DOL can give you a two-year permit on November 27, but it's only good until it expires or 2 years in, whichever comes first. So if your permit expires in January, the CNMI will have NO POWER to extend your permit. Issuing everyone a contingent permit that you can use when your real permit expires will almost certainly be disregarded by Homeland Security. So if you have previously signed away your right to repatriation, not only will you have to go, but you will have to buy your own ticket home.
There are too many unanswered questions. I would not recommend signing permits until they are answered.

62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for having the courage to ask questions and to get to the truth. What are the benifits if all the contracts still expire and we must find a job?

Anonymous said...

Nice graphic.

the teacher said...

You mean the unknown organizations putting this together invited the notorious Saipan "chamber" of Commerce, whose members were instrumental in the Jack Abramoff bribery scandal, lobbied Washington against the first minimum wage hike here (FIFTY CENTS)in a decade, and they have exploited foreign workers while local Chamorro and Carolinians were unemployed, and they didn’t invite me?

There was no need for a two year transition umbrella and this regulation is poorly thought out. Tina had a five year transition proposal, which may not have been perfect, but was much better for the community and the CGW than this. This takes much burden off the employer without offering employment opportunity, so I would not sign such a document. It also allows illegal business operators to ride the train another 2 years, a terrible economic mistake for Saipan.

Ron Hodges
Saipan

Anonymous said...

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. No more tricks!

Anonymous said...

Why don't the labor just make a chart that shows what happens good if you get a permit and what happens if you don't get one.

Anonymous said...

Looks like Wendy told Deanne she thought the policy was illegal when it was applied to transfers. She even asked Deanne to remove it. Then it was put it into the umbrella permit and she thinks Wendy complained because she hates Fitial. Could it be that she hates the policy?

Deanne even admitted that the policy was created to placate businesses and employers. I'd like to know who these worker leaders are that suggested this policy.

Anonymous said...

The Philippine Consel-General would want the Filipino guest workers to sign a document that may not be legal and may not be recognized by the feds?

Anonymous said...

Noni 12:17

Siemer said the consul-general has been consulted in the process. Siemer held a meeting at the Philippine Consulate the other night. So, yes they support the permit.

Anonymous said...

CNMI Umbrella Permit for two years,For me as a CGW with family here and paying $50 fee to get the extension of time to transfer is a big help.

Anonymous said...

1:14 ---

Are you sure you read the permit? It says this about the transfer: "Seeking employment: This permit may be revoked under circumstances when the holder is not employed and is seeking employment unless the holder makes diligent efforts to locate full time employment suitable to the holder’s skills and abilities and finds an employer within a reasonable time. While seeking employment, the holder of this permit is responsible for all medical and repatriation expenses for the holder and any sponsored alien immediate relatives and for the full support of any minor children, and the holder will maintain sufficient resources or provide a sufficient bond or undertaking by a financially responsible third party to meet these obligations. CNMI law provides no right to an extension of time to seek employment; each request is considered by a hearing officer on the merits of the written request as to whether employment is likely to be obtained within a reasonable time and any risk to the Commonwealth has been met. " So what is a reasonable time? The hearing officer could decide any way. Hw does this help you? Can you afford our own repatriation and medical costs if you are not working? All fees also apply.

Anonymous said...

I really wish American workers in the United States could get so much attention on their behalf and their future. What a farce.

Anonymous said...

So what if you don't have money for your own trip home?

The U.S. government will pay!

Anonymous said...

3:16 The administration went to court for the same purpose. Under this plan, they keep the local system, let the voter-employers out of their contracts, and the U.S. foots the bill.

Melberlin said...

There is a post below topic "Why should employers or the workers pay when the federal government will do so?"
That is a good posting, Feds can afford to repatriate all of us no doubt, they have the money; (remember there are millions of illegals in the US! and no mass deportations!) but to ward off from this Feds will implement organic or no deportation will happen. That is the reason why umbrella permit was offered by the current CNMI gov't, to take hold of the credit!!! Nobody knows right! Me myself will not sign the umbrella permit, but there are still a lot that will buy it due to many (personal) reasons, we cannot blame them.

Let the Feds pay for repatriation said...

Thank you, Melberlin, for your approval of my comment to the earlier post.

And you are right, each foreign national worker has to make an individual decision.

Ultimately it comes down to a prediction of whether one's current employer will be willing and able to continue employment for the next two years, and whether one has a lot of US citizen dependents to bring home.

If not, sign!

(Unless you think the feds won't be deporting anyone anyway, for budgetary reasons. (!) But I wouldn't count on that.)

Anonymous said...

There isn't really amy "individual decision" to be made. These permits are issued to everybody. Whether or not you pick it up and whether or not you sign it, you've still got it. If and when it benefits you (like if you lose your job, your permit runs out, and there is no federal status available to you), use it. If you are lucky enough to never need it, ignore it. There is no down side. You are gaining two free years of legality, and giving up nothing you had previously.

Anonymous said...

6:02---

That agreement requires a signature. It states, "Agreement and acknowledgment: I, the person to whom this permit is issued as named and identified above, agree and acknowledge as a condition of the issuance of this permit allowing my employment in the Commonwealth that every aspect of the issuance, modification, or termination of this permit is governed by Commonwealth law and is administered by the Commonwealth Department of Labor. I agree to abide by the labor regulations in effect on November 27, 2009. I understand that the adjudication of any disputes with respect to this permit is the responsibility, in the first instance, of the Commonwealth Department of Labor and that I have a right of appeal to the Commonwealth Superior Court as defined by Commonwealth law and regulations. I understand that I may change at any time to a permit issued in the federal system to the extent allowed under federal law."

You are suggesting that these permits be forced on the all alien workers. I don't think so.

Read the provision again. No one gets two years. DOL expects to get two years to maintain the local system, but who knows if this scheme will not be sanctioned by the feds. I bet against that happening.

Anonymous said...

Above should say" but who knows if this scheme will be sanctioned by the feds.

Anonymous said...

Hi Wendy, Just thought I'd let you know that I was at the Labor Department yesterday and I saw hundreds of your Kamabayans lining up to sign and pick up their blanket permit extension.

What is going on here Wendy? Are your Kamabayans losing confidence in what you say? Perhaps they are just tired of being used by your group? Like the 6000 people March when you got up and said that Federalization will bring GREEN CARDS to everyone? This is a sad day for the Commonwealth, Wendy.

the teacher said...

Noni above - I would have called the unity march 8k to 10k, not 6k, and the status issue for CGWs has not been decided and will likely be decided before June of 2010.

And I have never heard Wendy promise anyone green cards.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 6:25

Perhaps you meant to say kababayan, which means countrymen in Tagalog?

If anyone wants to sign up for an umbrella permit, that is their choice. I am sure some feel that it may benefit them. I do not see how it would.

I still do not recommend signing up for a permit that conflicts with established law, may or may not be recognized by the federal government, and requires the signer to give up major benefits if he/she is looking for a job.

As the teacher stated above (thank you, Ron), I do not know anyone who promised the guest workers green cards. However, I absolutely will continue to work for the guest workers to be granted green cards and a permanent pathway to citizenship.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone see the letter to the editor by Dr. Arkle from Tinian? It's in the Tribune.

Captain said...

Wendy,
So the way this "umbrella" states is that the holder must abide to the existing work contract.
So if a worker has an existing contract good for i year or say 16 months left, when this contract expires this "Umbrella" is no good as the NMI DOL cannot renew the workers contract anyway.
The worker will have to abide by the Fed Rags.(what ever they may be at the time)The only thing that will be gained by this is that the worker will have to pay their own way back home along with any medical expenses.
This umbrella can be revoked? DOL will have no authority after Nov. 28th anyway, so who is the "authority" to revoke this "Umbrella"?
May not this "umbrella" not be recognized anyway by the Feds, as it is not a work permit or contract. It is nothing more than a piece of paper which relieves the responsibility of the current employer.

So what is gained by this other than the employer getting off the "hook" for any responsibility to the worker? Is this correct?

Wendy said...

Hi Captain:

What is truly gained? No one will clearly state the gains or address the questions including: Is it in conflict with PL 15-108 or the CNRA? What are the advantages, if any, to the guest worker who agrees to this? Why are employers being released from their contractual duties and why are the workers told they must agree to be cheated of their benefits under certain circumstances? I keep thinking someone will post an explanation and we can all say, "Ah-ha!", I get it, but that appears unlikely.

It seems that this is a blatant attempt for the administration to retain control of the local system for the maximum amount of time, take advantage of desperate guest workers, and give an early Christmas gift to employers.

The Truth Hurts said...

I think the umbrella permit is great!

I figured it would take a while but that the Fitial Administration, Siemer, Kaipat, DOL, CNMI Immigration, Chamber, HANMI and other parties that were previously against any type of status for our legally present guest workers would come around and embrace a some type of residency status.

This is great step in the right direction. A 2 year status that does not directly tie foreign workers to their employees. Awesome! They will have the ability to remain in the CNMI under this new umbrella status for 2 years after Nov 28.

Now we need the legislature to revisit the full foreign residency status bill that was introduced early this year. The backing is there now from the Administration and the business community.

Kilili should immediately introduce the bill he has calling for a pathway to citizenship for foreign workers with US Citizen immediate relatives and those that have been here legally for many years! He will undoubtedly get our full local support now.

It is the eleventh hour and DOL had to act with the resources they have at their disposal - administrative orders and policies. They don't have the power to create and pass legislation themselves and neither can the Chamber or HANMI. The legislators that we have elected have to follow suit and do that. I hope they do it before Nov 28th and make this status more legally binding.

This is great. US Immigration will now have a tangible document (the umbrella permit) that shows that the community as a whole would like the current (legally) present foreign workers to remain in the CNMI as long as they so choose. US Immigration and DOI have up to 2 years to decide what will become of all the legal guest workers present in the CNMI. This should speak volumes and perhaps they can implement the grandfathering provision well before the 2 year time frame.

GREAT NEWS!

Anonymous said...

I would sure like to stay in the PI for two years..... but Immigration kicked me out. They even accept VISA and MASTERCARD for the fines. You do have to pay for your own flight out....

Anonymous said...

Noni 12:10PM


I just got back on island. Getting caught up and trying to understand the permit that is being issued.

After reading everything, I agree! This is great!

I remember when the Foreign Residency Status bill was introduced in April the committee killed it because they believed that it was moot. This umbrella permit clearly shows that it isn't moot and that our administration and CNMI DOL and CNMI Immigration do think issuing status at a local level is a great idea!

I hope that they reintroduce the Foreign Residency Status bill. Maybe just adjust it from 5 year status to 2 years but that is not a big thing. Feds will only recognize the 2 years anyhow right? Maybe they can adjust it to match the Umbrella Permit and make it apply to ALL legal foreign guest workers currently in the CNMI instead of those that have been here for many years.

Exciting news!

Wendy said...

12:10

The truth:

This is NOT residency status! It is a means for the administration to extend the oppressive local labor system and an attempt to keep control. If the administration wanted to award status they would support green cards, which is the only meaningful status that could be granted. They want to keep the system of disenfranchised workers who are treated as disposable commodities.

The permit does not release workers from their contracts or labor law. It allows those who are unemployed to seek employers outside of their category if they can find a job within "a reasonable time." What does reasonable mean? A week? A month? I guess you think it means two years.

Foreign workers do NOT have the right to remain in the CNMI for two years. Read what the proposal states:
"Extension of employment: This permit may be revoked at the termination of an employment contract unless, on or before the expiration of an approved employment contract (the next filing date shown above), the employer elects to extend the employment of the holder of this permit. The employer must submit the proposed extension contract and pay the applicable fee.

Change of employment: This permit may be revoked under circumstances when the holder changes employment unless the holder registers with the Division of Employment Services and files an Employer Intent Form no later than thirty days after termination of an existing employment contract. Upon the filing of an Employer Intent Form, Employment Services will follow its usual processes under Department of Labor regulations.

Seeking employment: This permit may be revoked under circumstances when the holder is not employed and is seeking employment unless the holder makes diligent efforts to locate full time employment suitable to the holder’s skills and abilities and finds an employer within a reasonable time. While seeking employment, the holder of this permit is responsible for all medical and repatriation expenses for the holder and any sponsored alien immediate relatives and for the full support of any minor children, and the holder will maintain sufficient resources or provide a sufficient bond or undertaking by a financially responsible third party to meet these obligations. CNMI law provides no right to an extension of time to seek employment; each request is considered by a hearing officer on the merits of the written request as to whether employment is likely to be obtained within a reasonable time and any risk to the Commonwealth has been met."


The CNMI cannot legally grant status or "residency". The U.S. Congress can.

This permit does not provide status or security.

Were legislators invited to be on this "Task Force"? To have input?

The umbrella permit proves that the current administration will do anything to maintain their system. It proves they will continue to deny workers their rights such as contractual provisions including repatriation and health care. It proves they will continually favor employers over the workers. It proves they are unjust.

Will DOL have the power to decide anything after November 28th?

Immigration does not decide status. The CNMI may have input, but they do not decide. The U.S. Congress decides.

Anonymous said...

Nonis 12:10 and 12:27

What did you read? What status?

Anonymous said...

I truly think that the Legislature needs to reintroduce the Foreign Residency Status Bill. They have gone on record to state that passing it would be meaningless because of the Nov 28th Federal takeover. This Umbrella permit basically shows that our own CNMI DOL and Immigration do not feel the same way. They believe that it is not moot.

Anonymous said...

The DOL and CNMI Immigration did not have the ability to create anything other than policy and issue administrative orders. It is my strong opinion that they are hoping that the Legislature follows through on passing a bill the grants status at a local level and that the Federal government provides a pathway to citizenship for all legal guest workers presently int he CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Noni 12:54

Wendy is correct. The 2 year permit grants nothing, nada, zilch. No status. No security. No longer stay.

Anonymous said...

You are right Wendy. The only problem is that DOL and CNMI immigration can not issue green cards. I strongly believe this umbrella permit is a sign that they want the people and entities that CAN issue a pathway to citizenship to do so. I could be wrong but from everything I have been reading and the statements that have come from Steve, Deane and Cinta I think they would love to have the Legislature pass a local bill to make this type of 2 year permit legal and grant status.


I admit at first I was skeptical. But I figure I should try and take a step back and assume the best motives lest I be accused of imputing ill motives on DOL and CNMI Immigration.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but think that the DOL and CNMI Immigration and the Fitial Administration really thought that by this point they would have won the lawsuit.

They haven't and the prospects of that occurring look remote.

At this point they pushed against federalization in the past and lobbied against status because they thought they would still be in control.

November is around the bend and I believe they now realize they did the legal foreign workers wrong. The only way that DOL and CNMI IMMIGRATION can try and fix it is to issue permits and regulations. They can not pass laws or grant Green Cards or status.

It is now up to the CNMI Legislature to step up and do those things (pass local residency status) and the Federal Government to issue a pathway to citizenship.

Let's all get rolling!

Time is fleeting!

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:06

I am not understanding what you are reading either. Please share the statements that you say are coming from Steve, Cinta, and Siemer.

This permit has a provision that is in direct conflict with PL15-108, which Siemer and Kaipat claim to have authored.

If the administration wanted status for you would they have filed the federal lawsuit? If the administration wanted status for you would Fitial have testified against it? If the Chamber, a participant in the Task Force, wanted status for you would they be testifying against it? If they wanted status for you they would advocate for it, not against it!

The CNMI government including the legislature cannot grant status to aliens, only the U.S. Congress can. No locality on U.S. soil has the power to grant status or else any state could grant local status to the alien workers in their states. This is not legal.

If you believe that someone who wants to take away repatriation and medical benefits from a significant number of guest workers has good motives, feel free. I do not believe that these people have the best interests of the workers at heart, and I have been told that the permit is not legal.

Itos said...

I'm calling all the attention of the GUEST WORKERS not to sign the "UMBRELLA PERMIT" I just called the Federal Ombudsman office, their advise are not to SIGN the UMBRELLA PERMIT and they need to consult this to the FEDS. before we sign the permit,if UMBRELLA PERMIT is legal or not... BUT I THINK I ALREADY KNOW THE ANSWER.

Anonymous said...

All you who believe that some fairy godmother sprinkled nice dust on Ben and his anti-fed buddies are either really high or really naive. Ask them to come out publicly and ask the congress to pass a law for green cards for all the OCWs. See what they say!

Anonymous said...

thanks itos. That is good advice. There are too many questions & no answers. We can wait to see if this is really ok with federals. why do we give up more benifits with no gain? our hours are cut to 32. now more benifits will be taking away.

Anonymous said...

At this moment the DOL and Immigration in the CNMI have created a document that would grant foreign workers who are legally in the CNMI the ability (not guaranteed - it can be revoked) to remain in the CNMI for the next 2 years and that permit is not tied to an employer.

This is the first time that anything like this has been proposed by this administration and its cohorts.

Let us look at this. Yes it has provisions that don't sit well with you Wendy (some don't sit well with me either). DOL and Immgiration have been deciding who stays and who goes for the last 30 years so nothing new there.

The provision that states that "while looking for employment" the worker will have to foot his/her own bill is not the best thing either but what alternative exists after Nov 28 when our local immigration has no say so? Anyone who's permit 240k expires will most likely either be repatriated or if lucky transition into a newly created Federal Transitional Visa or qualify for an existing Federal Foreign Worker Visa (H1, H2, etc). The two later most likely will not include employer paid medical. That would be agreed to between the worker and the employer separately.

All this being said, what is new? DOL and Immigration have penned a document that states to the best of their legal ability their hope that all legal foreign workers remain in the CNMI for as long as possible. Ride that. Use that new permit to push Federal government to grant status. At a local level we can grant foreign residency status that will be recognized for at least 2 years after Nov 28.

Anonymous said...

Make the best use of the tools available.

Anonymous said...

Noni 2:04

Too little, too late. DHS will not recognize DOL's control over who gets transfers, who gets to stay, or who has to leave, after Nov. 28th, because that has all been superceded by PL 110-229. They should have supported Tina's Bill when they had the chance.

Anonymous said...

NONI 2:04
Now it's DOL and IMMIGRATION? Before it was just DOL. This changes nothing except it continues our broken labor department and lets employers walk away from paying repatriation and health care.

The message it sends to the feds is, "We are still abusing the workers." What message does it send to the workers? "We are still using you. We still are working to let employers out of paying you benefits. We think you will think the permit helps you because we say it does. We know you will listen to our promises and sign it because under our crappy system you became so desperate what choice do you have?"

You are incorrect. This administration doesn't care who the workers are just as long as they remain here in an indentured state and under the thumb of DOL. Under this system the OCWs are guaranteed nothing. Did you ask Siemer and the governor and to pen a document that requests that the workers be given green cards?

That permit is of no use in trying to show the feds that the CNMI wants workers here. The only thing that would show that is if the governor directly requested green card status for the workers. Nothing else. The feds are not stupid. They know that Fitial and the Chamber want to run the labor system here. They are being sued right now for that purpose.

Anonymous said...

One can follow the players and tell which course of action to take.

The workers have had little or no representation for ever and the few school teachers that advocate for them have no proprietary intersts. Tan has Fitial, the chamber, andSaipan lawyers.

nuff said

Anonymous said...

Dear Wendy,
Thank you for updating us-everyone is confused but we know the truth in our hearts that is a propaganda of Fitial on his political candidacy, he still thinks he can fool us, to gain attention to those relatives of voters specially Filipino community. So many contract workers moved on already from other Country that gives a pathway to citizenship, many are still waiting for a single hope in here that they will be mercifull and passionate on our efforts to help out by producing 100% labor but at 60-80% salary benefits, reduced working labor hours of 64 for two weeks period. We knew that the umbrella they promise can not be used in the rainy season nor it can cover the heat of the sun, umbrella with holes. The same lawyer, same set of people will help us and give umbrella for what purpose, wake up my fellow co-workers, this will not even give us shade.

To those people who think they can still fool the oppressed contract worker, please wake up, because the remainders of the people sacrificing are mostly parents of the incoming voters of the new generations. Help out and reach out for the betterment of the community as a whole, did you sleep well last night, did you go to church last Sunday? God's purspose in human creating Christianity is for a community to help and love each one no matter what nationality we belong that we may be one in Christ, loving God and the entire humanity. God bless you and may we all be worthy Christians !

Check Your Parachute said...

Maya Kara is the lawyer who co-writes the popular immigration column in the Variety every Monday morning.

As she pointed out in today's Saipan Tribune, it is more akin to a parachute than an umbrella.

Don't take off without it! The reason it may be needed is because the Feds have been so slow in promulgating the CNMI Transition Worker Program regulations.

Federalization: You asked for it; you got it.

Many are finding it better to bail out back home in Bangladesh, China, or the Philippines, or on greener pastures in Canada, Australia, or New Zealand.

Won't Be Fooled Again said...

As for fooling anyone, no one has ever promised a CNMI foreign national worker a “pathway to citizenship.”

If that is what some are hoping and praying for in church, they are most likely only fooling themselves.

People need to plan for their lives and futures based upon existing economic reality, not upon some imaginary universe as they wish it to be.

The ability to cope with change and discern economic reality is the difference between those who can succeed anywhere in the world and those who cling to disappeared jobs on Saipan, hoping and wishing and praying that their highly unrealistic fantasies come true.

Encouraging one's kababayan to sit around dreaming when they should be moving on and acting is doing them a great disservice in the long run.

Anonymous said...

Check your parachute:

When did she stop being an immigration lawyer and start being a propagandist for the Fitial Administration?

Economic Reality said...

She didn't.

The federalization of minimum wages and immigration is having an absolutely devastating effect on the CNMI, which is now in a depression, not a mere recession -- as proven by the decline in BGRT receipts and Lite beer sales.

This was caused in large measure by vindictive Congressional members and staff such as Allen P. Stayman and George Miller who refused to conduct an economic study before enacting that law.

Eventually, the CNMI will come back even better than before, with higher, more livable wages for the mostly U.S. citizens who will live here.

Especially if Article XII is repealed and we can get legislators to stop micromanaging our economy and government as embodied by Pete Reyes, Tina Sablan, and Ralph Torres.

But in the meanwhile, the outlook for the next five years is very bleak, and even indigenous residents are moving in droves to Guam and the U.S. mainland.

Sure, businesses want to do whatever they can to keep a “workforce-in-waiting” available at their beck and call, including umbrella or parchute permits. They don't cost THEM anything. But if they really needed workers now, they would hire them! They don't and they're not.

CNMI business wants to keep unemployed guest workers hanging around for two years hoping things will get better by then. They won't.

This depression will be much deeper and longer-lasting than that. Probably at least five years.

Guest workers should plan accordingly and move on if they don't have a good job right now with realistic prospects of it continuing.

Federal Tickets Home said...

One good way for unemployed guest workers to escape the economic misery of Saipan, once the Feds take over on November 28, is to peacefully demonstrate outside the USCIS Application Support Center in the Tan Siu Lin Plaza building on Beach Road, Garapan -- demanding federal repatriation tickets home.

The Feds have an obligation to send home impoverished guest workers with expired immigration status who want to leave.

And unlike the CNMI government, the Feds have the money to do so.

Make your voices heard!

Anonymous said...

No, thank you.

I'll just sign my umbrella permit, keep my dead-end job, and hope to still be here when the economy improves, or we get status, or both.

Anonymous said...

7:15 YOU ARE MAYA KARA WRITING THESE PRO PERMIT COMMENTS!

Anonymous said...

The CNMI better pray that the feds award a pathway to citizenship or they will have a difficult time getting foreign workers. After this scam and all the rest, why would a foreign worker pick the CNMI over Australia, Canada and places where they are treated like actual human beings?

Anonymous said...

WHo would take a parachute that Siemer and Maya packed?

Itos said...

No to umbrella permit!


I will not sign the permit! I urge alien workers to ask themselves why they should sign. There is no benefit for us. All Department of Labor policies still apply even if we sign. If our contract ends, we must find work. If we can't find a job, we still have to leave. The permit does not give us any kind of privilege to remain. We still have to pay for our contract renewals and permits if we are renewed. We still have to compete to find a job in a job market that has very few available. We do not gain by signing. We only lose. We give up our rights to have our employers pay for our repatriation and medical fees. We don't even know if this is legal. We don't even know what the federal regulations are. We fought to end PL 15-108 and bad regulations. We fought for federalization. This will give DOL two full years to run DOL after the start of federalization. Is that what we fought for? To remain under the rule of DOL? Or did we fight for a chance of justice and fairness from the federal government under a federally run guest worker program?

To the guest workers, do not let your employers or others force you to sign a document. If someone tells you that you must sign, please contact the Federal Ombudsman's Office.

Itos Feliciano
President, Human Dignity Movement

Anonymous said...

Is this the same Deanne Siemer that was charged with gross ethics violations while prcticing law int he mainland less than 10 years ago? Wasn't she fined $500,000 and removed from the case and disbarred from practicing law in that state and removed from that firm? Didn't they include that ethics violation case in the textbooks that lawyers now study on WHAT NOT TO DO and use her as an example?

Why on earth are we allowing her to volunteer out here? Fitial keeps some very surly characters close by him.

Maybe she is volunteering because she can not legally practice since she had that ethics violation?

Can someone clear up or verify any of this info?

Anonymous said...

When it rains it pours. Is it true that another officer in Fitials army has been charged with a crime? Franz Reksid? I think we will have to use some of the ARRA funds to build a new jail. We can dedicate it to this administration by naming it “Fitial’s Big House”. What is that? The 10th person closely related to Fitial to be charged in the last 6 months? I know now why DEA may not “like him”.


I also heard a rumor that an AG is being looked into. Anyone have more on this? Which one? Why?

What is going on?

Wendy said...

I could find no documentation that Franz Reksid, DPL Project Manager has been accused of a crime or arrested.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:00:
The ethics violations are here in this post

Anonymous said...

Fascinating post about the ethics violations and a nice song left as a comment by anonymous:

Ode to Howard and Deanne (sung to the tune of Jack and Diane by John Cougar Mellencamp):

"Little ditty about Howard and Deanne
Two American kids growin old in the homeland.
Howard’s gonna be a volunteer,
Deanne fights the feds and lies, tries to spread the fear.

Suckin on filet mignon, ordering the finest wine,
Deanne laughing at the expensive bill,
because it’s on the taxpayers’ dime.
Howard say, hey Deanne let’s run off
Behind a shady tree
Deanne looks at her watch
says, “Baby we can’t, we’re booked for DC.”
And Howard says

Chorus:
Oh yeah life goes on
Long after the spin of federalization is done,
Oh yeah life goes on
Long after our contracts with Uncle Ben is long gone, they walk on

Howard sits back reflects his thoughts for a moment
Scratches his head and says in his most sincere voice
you know Deanne we oughtta move back to our home in DC,
Diane says, baby you remember Pillsbury?
Deanne says

Chorus:
Oh yeah, not life in our nation,
Paid too many fines for ethics violations.
Oh yeah life is great here,
CNMI pays for our bills, so have another beer.

Let them lie,
Sell their souls,
Let Ben Tan come down
with his anti-fed trolls.
Hold on to bitter times as long as they can,
Hope comin round real soon
Replacing Ben, Howard, and Deanne.

Little ditty about Howard and Deanne,
Two old volunteers spinning it best they can."

Anonymous said...

why is this quack even allowed near legal documents... let alone drafting them?

http://www.mvarietynews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13408:siemer-says-she-was-only-joking&catid=1:local-news&Itemid=2

she needs to move on to trying an attempt at singing. her lawyering sucks and her humor ain't at all funny.

Anonymous said...

She sings?

Anonymous said...

Cackles.