Oh, Really?


December 22, 2009


The Marianas Variety reports today that TTT's president, Greg Cruz claims that "guest workers should not use issues about “abuses” for self-serving agendas." The paper reported:
Advocates of guest workers, he added, do not have respect for local culture and traditions because they are fighting for temporary guest workers who want to become permanent residents.
“We Chamorros must protect our culture against outside influences,” he said.

CNMI guest worker regulations, he added, should not be used to pursue the personal agendas of foreigners.
“The people of these islands are U.S citizens and the CNMI is in a political union with the U.S. It is wrong to accuse U.S citizens of human rights issues to pursue improved status for guest workers,” Cruz said.
My response to these "should nots":
  • The CNMI government, any CNMI organization or any individuals SHOULD NOT make excuses for labor or human rights abuses past or present.
  • Human rights advocates and supporters of human rights and social justice SHOULD point out human rights abuses in an effort to institute reform and stop them from continuing.
  • The victims of abuses SHOULD be made full, and all abusers SHOULD face consequences including fees and/or jail time.
  • Any organization or person with an agenda to "protect their culture" SHOULD examine whether or not their agenda is driven by racism or classism. Cultures are not "protected" by excluding contributing members of the community, disenfranchising a major portion of the population, or delegating them to a lower tier in the society.
  • The members of the TTT and other nativist groups SHOULD review the history of the plebiscite and the Covenant. They SHOULD also review Fitial's Public Law 3-66 that promoted bringing in and renewing an unlimited number of foreign workers, which at one point made the indigenous people a minority in their islands.
  • Fighting for status for long term nonresidents SHOULD NOT be interpreted as being against local tradition or local culture.
  • Regardless of "protections" the temporary status of guest workers strengthens vulnerability and perpetuates the abuses. Therefore every just and democratic guest worker program SHOULD provide an unobstructed pathway to citizenship for long-term guest workers.
  • The systematic cheating of foreign contract workers SHOULD NOT be condoned or excused. The back wages SHOULD be paid to every cheated guest worker. Enforcement SHOULD have been and SHOULD be exercised in a timely manner. The CNMI government that has allowed tens of thousands of workers to be routinely cheated while their unscrupulous employers have suffered little or no consequences SHOULD ensure that these people are made whole.
  • All long term guest workers and nonresidents, whether parents of U.S. children or not, SHOULD be awarded permanent residency through green cards. All SHOULD be provided with an unobstructed pathway to citizenship that does restrict them geographically to maintain residence in a specific place on U.S. soil.
  • A just guest worker program SHOULD strive to ensure that families are kept together and SHOULD consider the best interest of a child in allowing foreign parents to remain with their child or children on U.S. soil.
  • A just immigration program SHOULD reduce the financial eligibility requirements and waive fees for minimum wage earners to secure green cards for eligible family members.
  • Any person of conscience who supports democracy and social justice SHOULD feel free to exercise his/her right to promote a pathway to citizenship for guest workers.

12 comments:

the teacher said...

The CW transitional worker program is unique to the CNMI and its development was well thought and will be used during the transition period. I have always supported an improved status versus a system of servitude here but the US realizes the economic reality may prohibit green cards in the near future. A federally implemented system does seek to make right what has long been wrong both for workers and indigenous persons.

The status quo system did not encourage indigenous ownership of businesses at all, and neither did the importation of foreign nationals. The US investor visa regulations also seek to make right, what has long been wrong in favor of Chamorro and Carolinian residents. I disagree that making business owners of thousands of people with no money, would have any positive effect for the CNMI. People who pay their 500k employee residents and business owners with few assets are prone to labor abuses.

Looking at Beach, Middle, and Isa Roads, virtually all the businesses are foreigner owned, so federalization can’t be blamed in any way. I have always wanted federalization to strictly enforce US investor visa laws, and I believe the investor visa regulations have done a great job addressing that issue.

Improving status does pose a complication that would be economically devastating to the CNMI should all workers decide to stay here and operate businesses. Issuing green cards in this small market to new potential business owners that have never paid their 500k will make Saipan look like the third world. We already have more tire repairs, car repairs, construction companies without tools (considering there is little building), and car washes than any place I have ever seen. If the US granted this, we will have fruit and vegetable trucks and food carts lining Beach Rd. I have always figured most seeking a green card would also follow opportunity to Guam, Hawaii, LA, Las Vegas and all points in between. The textile industry is closed and we have NO JOBS here, and this is why the US has been apprehensive about green cards.

If they do grant the business operating status to persons who have never paid a US investor visa, it would be a disaster for the CNMI if even 50% choose to stay here. This is why our unique circumstances necessitated the formation of the CW transitional worker program. That program was quite brilliant and will be re-implemented after the extended comment period. I would guess some extremely intelligent persons put that program together and it will be a fair and just system.

Filipinos for Fitial/Inos said...

- The U.S. government, any advocacy organization or any individuals SHOULD NOT make excuses for labor or human rights abuses past or present. (This includes blaming CNMI immigration for the federal failure to enforce applicable laws since January 9, 1978.)

- The victims of abuses SHOULD be made whole, through appropriations by the U.S. Congress.

Imposition of jail time for what were not then violations of law would violate the U.S. Constitution and its prohibition on ex post facto laws. To the extent all abusers SHOULD face consequences including fees and/or jail time, the failure of the federal government to act on these abuses has allowed the applicable statutes of limitation to expire. Everyone knows that the CNMI government was gravely at fault, but there is plenty of blame to go around.

It is too bad that the Feds imposed a "solution" so ungrounded in economic reality, whose first victims have been the poorest of the poor guest workers, at least half of whom have returned home as a consequence.

Wendy said...

Filipinos for Fitial/Inos (whatever...)

It was the CNMI government through their local laws that was responsible for bringing in tens of thousands of foreign workers to abuse. It was and is the CNMI government that hired lobbyists and attorneys and consultants, and cozied up to corrupt politicians to cover up abuses and spin a ridiculous story of an economic miracle. It was the CNMI government that paid Abramoff and other lobbyists to promote their system of abuse claiming that continuing abuses were "old news", covering up the reality of the broken system, allowing non-prosecution of abusers and allowing tens of thousands of innocent foreigners to become victims of wage theft while violating employers hired more victims to abuse. And all the time BRAGGING that they stopped the federal government from instituting reform that would have protected the workers. Your spin is not believable and quite frankly is garbage.

The victims of abuses SHOULD have been made whole through the CNMI DOL and OAG immediately after abuses occurred. Immediately after the judgments were issued. They did nothing and make excuses.

PLEASE! All abusers who refused to pay judgments should have been fined or spent time in jail instead of being allowed to hire more foreign workers to abuse. Not now, but when the crimes were committed. It was DOL and the OAG who let them walk and allowed the victims to endure the loss of wages. They STILL make excuses!

What's worse is the fact that the Fitial Administration and greedy business owners STILL want to maintain the broken, abusive local system. Good for the U.S. Congress for passing PL 110-229 and for trying to put an end to the abusive system. Too bad the CNMI-hired lobbyists blocked the reform measures for so many years.

Another false statement is this:,"It is too bad that the Feds imposed a "solution" so ungrounded in economic reality, whose first victims have been the poorest of the poor guest workers, at least half of whom have returned home as a consequence." Get real! The economy was responsible for the loss of jobs and downfall of business - not the federal law which only came into effect less than a month ago.

Try promoting your fantasy somewhere else. It won't fly here.

Anonymous said...

FFF 11:28 I doubt your a Filipino.

Anonymous said...

FFF...i don't think you're Filipinos! Magpakilala ka! (State your names so we would know you!)

Anonymous said...

To: Filipinos for Fitial/Inos

Is that you Danny Buniag?

Anonymous said...

No it's an American attorney posing as a Filipino. Look at the vocabulary words like "ex post facto" and it gives it away.

Anonymous said...

Filipinos for Fitial is like Blacks for the Klan

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:53

I disagree. Although I would not expect Filipinos who seriously care about the fate of their fellow countrymen and women (as far as gaining status) to have voted for Fitial as governor, I do not accept that remark as true.

Saipan Writer said...

Wendy,

Most Filippinos couldn't vote. :-) (Of course you know that...)

There is a modicum of truth in FFF's comment. 1. The feds could have stepped in earlier and done more. 2. Many foreign workers have left the CNMI.

But those "facts" do not support the larger opinion.

ON #1. The feds didn't step in earlier in part due to efforts by the CNMI to prevent their takeover of immigration--using Abramoff and lobbying to "save" the CNMI from federal authorities. The CNMI administration is still trying to prevent effective federal authority and protection of U.S. immigration.

The feds could have done a better job in bringing trafficking cases, etc., too--but the climate in the CNMI was very anti-alien, then. We're still seeing a lot of this embedded belief--Greg Cruz's comments are an example: that aliens are only here to take advantage and scam us. Poor us. I've heard from educated people that trafficked victims "knew" what they were getting into and are just as culpable as their traffickers (despite investigated facts that show quite strongly the opposite). Jury trials would not necessarily have provided justice or any difference.

ON # 2. It isn't federalization of our CNMI immigration that has forced alien workers to go home. Most of those departures occurred during CNMI immigration and as a result of the end of the garment industry here and the on-going decline in our economy.

People don't want to believe this. They want to blame the feds. It's nice to have a big, bad scapegoat; much easier than examining our own part in the mess and taking responsibility.

And I agree--FFF does sound like an attorney I know here. Same old rationalizations. Same old spin.

<3 said...

...THIS IS SUCH A DUMB STATEMENT!

Advocates of guest workers, he added, do not have respect for local culture and traditions because they are fighting for temporary guest workers who want to become permanent residents.

“We Chamorros must protect our culture against outside influences,” he said.

= I am not making a racist comment here.. this is just a comment about how plain stupid the statement is =

...Protect chamorro culture against OUTSIDE INFLUENCES?! really now? That isnt possible unless a nation would COMPLETELY ISOLATE itself from the rest of the world.

The local people's culture HAS BEEN influenced. by the spaniards who came to the island, the japanese, americans.. etc.

if it wasnt influenced the island would still be how it was a hundred years ago, no development wouldve happened..

another proof of the island being influenced by OUTSIDE CULTURES would be THANKSGIVING. dont tell me thanksgiving has been one of the local peoples traditions?! NAW WAY! they have been INFLUENCED BY AMERICAN CULTURE AND ARE NOW THEREFORE WESTERNIZED IN SOME DEGREE.

so if GREG CRUZ wanted to prevent any outside influences then he should tell the local government to cut its ties with the states and all other "OUTSIDERS". that means there will be no advancement for the island. coz' the island ON ITS OWN CANT SURVIVE!... it cant support itself, it relies on the MONEY THAT THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT IS GIVING... id like to see how it'll manage itself!

fighting for justice and human rights DOES NOT IN ANY WAY SHOW DISRESPECT TOWARDS THE LOCAL PEOPLE'S CULTURE AND TRADITION.

with how the world is today OUTSIDE INFLUENCES is very likely to happen and might sometimes be necc. for a nations succes. cultures around the world has coined in a thing or two among each other. Japan once dint want "outside" influence, and look at them now? since they've adapted theyve advanced a long way.

Anonymous said...

To above anon:

I couldn't have say it better, I like the way you said it. If they don't want foreign influences, stop patronizing McDo or Taco Bell or stop decorating their houses with Christmas lights. I remember way back in the 80's, not so many houses were lighted, until more Filipinos are here. The Christmases here were so lonely and not as festive as it is right now. There were only a few Clothing store, $9.00 long distance charges for 3 mins etc. I could go on and on but...

Anyways, for my christmas wish ..I wish Greg Cruz, Cinta Kaipat and the rest of the TTT would stop saying dumb founded statements and they would experience a humbling one so they will learn to be more humane and considerate. I also wish the first lady and the governor not to set their feet in the Philippines anymore. Just some wishes!