On some federalization issues


December 27, 2009

"Everywhere immigrants have enriched and strengthened
the fabric of American life. " - John F. Kennedy

USCIS regional media manager, Marie Thérèse Sebrechts, told the Marianas Variety that the transition has been progressing smoothly. Since November 28, 2009 the USCIS-Saipan office has served over 830 people who were requesting information on the new immigration system. She also said that the office processed over 400 applications for green cards or permanent residency, and handled 48 cases for naturalization.

Under the new transition rules, all nonresidents who are staying legally in the CNMI must get advance parole in order to travel to their homelands for vacations, or personal or medical emergencies. The cost of the paperwork is $305.00. Many of the comments made concerning the new transitional worker rules are directed to this specific rule.

Ms. Sebrechts encouraged interested parties to submit comments:
Sebrechts said, so far, DHS has received at least 150 comments for the regulations, which will create a new classification for foreign workers in the CNMI — the CW-1 status.

This will be made available to CNMI foreign workers who are not eligible to be admitted in any of the currently existing U.S.-based employment programs.

Sebrechts said once the comment period ends, DHS will consider them before publishing the final regulations that will be adopted for implementation.

“All these comments will be considered to develop the final rule.  It is impossible to guess how long it will take for each comment to be reviewed, considered and, if appropriate, integrated into the final rule,” she added.

She urged the public to express their thoughts or concerns regarding the proposed regulations.

“Please remember that people are invited to participate by submitting written data, views, or arguments on all aspects of this rule, including the economic or federalism effects that might result from this rule. Comments that provide the most assistance will reference a specific portion of the rule, explain the reason for any recommended change, and include data, information, or authority that support such recommended change.  A complaint that does not provide details of practical solutions would not be helpful, for example,” she added.
You can write a comment until January 8, 2010. The rule and comment instructions are found at http://www.regulations.gov (search for USCIS-2008-0038). Let your voices be heard!

During the transition period from November 28, 2009 to November 28, 2011 the USCIS recognizes the employment and umbrella permits issued by the CNMI DOL and the OAG, however the employment of foreigners is under federal control. From the Marianas Variety:
Marie Thérèse Sebrechts, DHS-USCIS regional media manager for Southern California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii, Guam and the CNMI, said DHS fully recognizes the employment authorization of CNMI Labor during the transition period.

“The employment authorization of aliens in the CNMI, which is related to immigration, is now a matter of federal law,” she said. 

“However, for a two-year period following the Nov. 28, 2009 transition to federal immigration law, federal law authorizes aliens to work based on the employment authorization they had received under CNMI law as of the transition date,” she added.

The USCIS is the DHS agency tasked to grant foreign workers in the CNMI federal status upon the nomination of their employers.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security fully recognizes employment authorization based on that provision. The U.S. Department of Labor or DOL administers federal employment and labor laws. A local or state department of labor administers state employment and labor laws for which it is responsible and which might differ from the federal equivalents,” Sebrechts added.
On "End of an Era"
Much of what Marianas Variety editor Zaldy Dandan wrote in his editorial, End of an Era is based on incorrect information or assumptions. It sounds like it was written after a conversation with attorney Woodruff.

There is nothing set in concrete as far as permanent status for the guest workers and nonresidents. Everyone should know that! The U.S. Congress can decide to grant green cards or permanent status under the CIR (Comprehensive Immigration Reform), in a stand alone bill or they may decide not to grant status. I believe that they will. Why? Because I talk to people in Washington and I correspond with federal officials.

Zaldy gives too much credit to Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and the Guam legislature for having been responsible for the removable of the grandfathering provision from the legislation. While they played a role, the removal was absolutely, verifiably orchestrated by the Fital Administration and his paid and unpaid lobbyists. It was the Fitial Administration's team who was responsible for getting their Guam legislators and nativist groups onboard with the ridiculous notion that Filipinos would invade Guam and Hawaii. Racist Resolution 80 endorsed by the Guam Legislature was penned as a result of Fitial administration suggestions.

After the Fitial Administration successfully lobbied to remove the grandfathering provision from the CNRA, the door was left open with the insertion of this often quoted provision:
From the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (P.L. 110-299):
Report on Nonresident Guestworker Population- The Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, and the Governor of the Commonwealth, shall report to the Congress not later than 2 years after the date of enactment of the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008. The report shall include--
(1) the number of aliens residing in the Commonwealth;
(2) a description of the legal status (under Federal law) of such aliens;
(3) the number of years each alien has been residing in the Commonwealth;
(4) the current and future requirements of the Commonwealth economy for an alien workforce; and
(5) such recommendations to the Congress, as the Secretary may deem appropriate, related to whether or not the Congress should consider permitting lawfully admitted guest workers lawfully residing in the Commonwealth on such enactment date to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States.
The alien registration was initiated to assist in writing that mandated report. Zaldy said, "But suddenly, and right in time for the holidays, the federal ombudsman announces that aliens in the CNMI should register with her office. It was like a massive jolt of electricity that breathed life into the Frankenstein’s monster that guest workers call “hope.”

What do Zaldy and the pessimistic naysayers have against hope? Hope motivates people to take action. Hope is the catalyst for change. Hope is the noise in the squeaky wheels. Hope has been the foundation for every great movement in history. I agree with President Obama who said:
"In the United States of America, there has never been anything false about hope...In America, no dream is beyond our grasp if we reach for it, and fight for it, and work for it. Because hope is not blind optimism."
Enough with putting down hope or people who have the strength to hope and work to makes their dreams become realities.

The registration was not timed with the holidays as Zaldy implied, but was timed so that the congressional report from Interior could be written with accurate estimates before May 10, 2010.

How did Woodruff help by telling people to stay away from the Federal Ombudsman's Office? Did Woodruff, Zaldy or the others questioning the alien registration ever dialogue with Pam Brown before dispersing misinformation? If they had called her they would have known that no information will be used to deport any alien as Woodruff suggested and Zaldy are blindly claiming. Are they truly so ignorant of federal processes that they think the DoI, DHS, USCIS, DoJ, DoL, DoS and members of Congress and their staffers do not communicate with each other? Do they think that the ombudsman decided on a whim to create an alien registration without consulting with her superiors or other federal officials?

Pam Brown made it abundantly clear that the ombudsman office has no intention of revealing confidential client information despite what Woodruff suggested. Will nonresidents who do not register be eligible for any status upgrades? I would check that out with the ombudsman's office before I decided not to register.

Zaldy said:
Immigration reform will be the likely vehicle for any NMI guest worker status bill. But will it pass in an election year? Will the NMI delegate, for example, put his neck on the line for nonvoters? Abercrombie is resigning to run for Hawaii governor, but does that mean that the state’s other U.S. lawmakers will not oppose improved status for CNMI guest workers who are considered “competition” by the unions in Hawaii — and Guam?
I work in the U.S. very actively with migrant worker and immigration associations and organizations. I correspond with congressional staffers and others concerning the CIR. I do not expect it to pass easily, but it is also not the only legislation that can be passed to give status to long-term workers and nonresidents. Right now the best thing that the nonresidents workers can do is to have a united voice and stand firm in insisting that all longterm guest workers and nonresidents be given permanent U.S. status. The issue will be addressed this year.

The CNMI Delegate may not have to openly support status for legislation to pass. There are many congressional supporters, including those who championed the federal legislation for decades. In the end, will Congressman Sablan openly support status for all long-term nonresidents? It is hard to say. He is a politician, not a human rights advocate. Hopefully, he will decide to be remembered as a principled statesman rather than the typical self-centered politician who acts to ensure votes for future elections. As more CNMI residents are educated to the reality of the federalization bill they may finally realize that the way to ensure a skilled workforce will be to support status for the long term guest workers, so in the end it may not be such a controversial move for Congressman Sablan to support status. Then again, he doesn't have a vote so he could opt to stay in the background and push for status quietly among his colleagues. Again, the best thing that the nonresidents workers can do is to have a united voice and stand firm in insisting that all longterm guest workers and nonresidents be given permanent U.S. status.

Zaldy said:
There is, however, a new factor in this complicated political equation: the CNMI governor who sincerely wants to see guest workers remain in the commonwealth, but under local control. He is no longer running for re-election. He’s a free man, politically speaking. He can actually do what has to be done, what he believes must be done, without fear of any electoral backlash.
Hence, this shift in tactics on the part of the original guest worker advocacy group on island, Dekada.
Another statement begs correction. Dekada was not the "original guest worker advocacy group on island" as Zaldy claimed. There have been strong Filipino guest worker groups for decades. In 1995 some attorneys and advocates worked with the Local-5 and the NLRB in Hawaii to establish the first union in the CNMI. In 1998 we (my husband, guest worker leaders and I) organized the first united worker advocacy group that represented all nationalities of guest workers. The United Worker Alliance was the group that held demonstrations during the staged visit of Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and his delegation in February 1999. Abramoff sent the Codel to the NMI to help with his plan to defeat federal legislation as was outlined in his "strategy memo." In addition to demonstrations, the group sponsored petitions that were submitted to the U.S. Congress, corresponded with members of the House and Senate Resources Committees, informed officials in their homelands of illegal recruiters and the ill-treatment of the foreign workers, sent letters to CNMI officials pointing out illegal activities, and worked with federal officials and advocates to institute reform.

Yes, the governor wants to keep his indentured, disenfranchised underclass. What he does not want is for the guest workers to have federal status. If he supported status, he could endorse it right now and it would be be a done deal! The governor is still attempting to maintain the broken local labor system as is witnessed in the last remnants of the lawsuit and suggestion that he "may appeal", and by the CNMI DOL comments posted to the Regulations.gov site. The Administration is using Woodruff and some of the few remaining members of Dekada to help them push their agenda.

Whenever DOL wants to legitimize their broken system, give it credibility or promote it as "better than the U.S. system" they throw in the phrase that they "are working with leaders of guest worker groups" referring to Woodruff and his followers. No other worker leaders have "worked" with DOL because they do not support maintaining the local system and consider it counterproductive to work with their oppressors. They have chosen to work with federal officials and others who support true reform and permanent status for the nonresidents.

If some guest workers want to work with Woodruff and continue to meet with the local government officials or "volunteers" that is absolutely their right. However, Woodruff and this group must make it very clear that they are speaking only for themselves and should not claim to speak on behalf of the 13,000 or more foreign contract workers that they do not represent.

Zaldy called Woodruff's disruptive slam on the ombudsman office a "sensible warning." To the contrary - Woodruff confused matters. How is actively working with the local government and others to turn against the office that is charged with making a recommendation to the U.S. Congress on status for the guest workers sensible? It was considered a divisive and turncoat move by many of the guest workers. It had people in Washington scratching their heads. At any rate, the move seemed to have little impact, as 15,000 nonresidents have already registered with the ombudsman's office.

Wouldn't it be ironic (and extremely sad) if some guest workers and their "leaders" were the ones to screw up their own chances for permanent status by playing games with those who want to keep them permanently in the CNMI as indentured servants with no political and social rights? A united front would be much more advantageous.

15 comments:

yellow butterfly said...

"Wouldn't it be ironic (and extremely sad) if some guest workers and their "leaders" were the ones to screw up their own chances for permanent status by playing games with those who want to keep them permanently in the CNMI as indentured servants with no political and social rights?"

Wendy, the sad part is that these "leaders" don't know that these BAD people are playing games with them. And probably due to some personal needs & false promises, they tend to forget the real "objective/goal" they have started. And it is truly sad knowing they have lost their focus.

They tend to forget what they have started fighting for and now fighting against what they have started to fight for.

"Leaders should learn from yesterday/history; live for today & never lose hope for tomorrow."

Anonymous said...

Does Woodruff work for the Fitial administration now? I know he is on Fitial's immigration task force. Is that something he gets paid for?

Anonymous said...

Wendy said . . . .

Zaldy gives too much credit to Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and the Guam legislature for having been responsible for the removable of the grandfathering provision from the legislation. While they played a role, the removal was absolutely, verifiably orchestrated by the Fital Administration and his paid and unpaid lobbyists. It was the Fitial Administration's team who was responsible for getting their Guam legislators and nativist groups onboard with the ridiculous notion that Filipinos would invade Guam and Hawaii. Racist Resolution 80 endorsed by the Guam Legislature was penned as a result of Fitial administration suggestions.

So where's the verification? Your unionizing, conspiracy theorizing, opponent demonizing tactics are getting the better of you.

I'm sure Fitial was pleased as punch when this status stake in the heart of the CNMI's successful guest worker program was removed, but he was just as surprised as anyone else. He and his administration were working and lobbying their hearts out to kill the entire bill; removal of status in no way removed his opposition to it.

If you actually undertake some real “verification,” you will learn that the Hawaiian and Guamanian opponents of allowing our guest workers to move there were acting on their own longstanding sincerely-held beliefs and advocacy viewpoints that have nothing whatsoever to do with Fitial.

Do you really think Fitial has any clout at all with ultra-unionist Abercrombie?!! If so, that explains why your own organizing strategy and tactics are occasionally so out of touch with reality.

As long as you buy into your own propaganda, and make demonizing Fitial one of the top items on your agenda, you will not have the success you could otherwise.

Wake up and smell the coffee!

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:45

I already wrote about this and linked to documents. Look up past posts using the search engine. You have evidence to prove Guam and Abercrombie acted alone? Show us the documentation.

smell your own coffee said...

Noni 9:45 Are you serious? You question Wendy's success? Who are YOU? An anonymous poster! Ha! Maybe Fitial doesn't have clout with Abercrombie but his LOBBYISTS did. Wendy doesn't demonize Fitial. She tells it like it is.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:45

Who lobbied against the grandfathering provision? The Saipan Chamber of Commerce did. But mostly the Fitial Administration---

Senate Committee July 19, 2007 Fitial testimony:
In a further break from established immigration policy, S.1634 declares which non-U.S. citizens will be given permanent legal status and permitted to stay in the CNMI. S. 1634 expressly grants a form of amnesty to nearly 8000 alien workers in the Commonwealth by granting them nonimmigrant status and the privilege of living and working anywhere in the United States. The bill’s drafters chose to ignore that such an enhanced status was not permitted or contemplated when these workers elected voluntarily to come to the CNMI many years ago to enjoy the economic opportunities available in the CNMI. The recent Senate debate on immigration suggests that such a provision would never have been supported on the national level – either because it looks like an amnesty provision or because it imposes an enormous burden on the Commonwealth of permanent alien residents numbering about 25% of the local United
States citizen population. The drafters of S.1634 seemingly have no concern about the impact of this provision on the integrity and vitality of the indigenous Carolinian and Chamorro peoples in the Commonwealth.


And a similar statement from Fitial in his August 2007 testimony: H.R.3079: Permanent Legal Residence Status for Alien Workers

In a significant departure from current immigration policy, H.R. 3079 declares which non-U.S. citizens will be given permanent legal status and permitted to stay in the CNMI or move to any part of the United States. H.R.3079 expressly grants a form of amnesty to nearly 8000 alien workers in the Commonwealth by granting them this nonimmigrant status, comparable to that enjoyed by Micronesians from the freely associated states. The bill's drafters chose to ignore that such an enhanced status was not permitted or contemplated when these workers elected voluntarily to come to the CNMI many years ago to enjoy the economic opportunities available in the CNMI. The recent Senate debate on immigration suggests that such a provision would never have been supported on the national level-either because it smacks of an amnesty provision or because it imposes an enormous burden on the Commonwealth of permanent alien residents numbering about 25% of the local United States citizen population.

The drafters of H.R. 3079 seemingly have no concern about the impact of this provision on the integrity and vitality of the indigenous Carolinian and Chamorro peoples in the Commonwealth. Permanent legal residence status permits such individuals to bring children and other relatives into the community where the status-holder elects to live. Consequently, the impact on the local CNMI community might be far greater than anticipated if most of these new permanent legal residents elected to stay in the Commonwealth and bring in children and other relatives not presently allowed to reside in the CNMI. However well-intentioned this proposal appeared to its drafters, its consequences already have seriously affected the quality of life in the CNMI. The proposal has generated unrealistic expectations among the guest worker population in the Commonwealth, stimulated boycotts of businesses because their owners have opposed this provision, and contributed to increased divisiveness between guest workers and the indigenous peoples of the Commonwealth. We recommend that the provision be eliminated from H.R.3079.


continued....

Wendy said...

continued...

And from my own previous post:

Perhaps, as CNMI Governor Fitial claimed, this unfounded concept that guest workers would burden neighboring islands was presented to committee members and the legislators in Guam and Hawaii by the CNMI’s lobbyists, Oldaker, Biden & Belair. An October 25, 2007 article, Nonimmigrant status provision will be removed from US House bill, by Gemma Casas states:

"The Fitial administration yesterday said the controversial nonimmigrant provision for long-time guest workers will be removed from the federalization bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. Press Secretary Charles P. Reyes Jr. said this was confirmed by their “consultant” in Washington, D.C., Oldaker, Biden & Belair LLP. “I believe the governor may have received the report from our consultant…. They were hired to keep us informed on important developments affecting our islands,” Reyes told Variety in an e-mail."


The CNMI paid the lobbyists $80,000 in 2007.

Here is an article about the lobbyists arranging Fitial's meetings in DC in 2007 when he was working to get rid of the grandfathering provision and the bill.

In this 2007 article Fitial hires media agents to defeat federaliztion.

Here's an article 2007 article that states Lt. Gov. Villagomez and TTT's president Cruz testified at a public hearing in Guam legislature against federalization. Soon after Resolution 80 was passed. Even David Cohen questioned the resolution.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the documentation Wendy. No one should doubt that you have verification because you always do.

Anonymous said...

yellow butterfly said,

you hit the nail on the head. i totally agree with you.

Anonymous said...

i was a dekada member from 2004. over two years they call no meetings. I think they are no more a group.

Anonymous said...

Dekada is still Dekada, existing. The big wigs & other colorum members (?), advisers are meeting together by themselves, not involving the other members, they decide what they're going to do by themselves, they don't ask for memberss' consensus decision. They met with kaipat, siemer,fitial, chamber of commerce.... ask the officers.

Anonymous 9:45 said...

Wendy said . . .

orchestrated by the Fital Administration and his paid and unpaid lobbyists. It was the Fitial Administration's team who was responsible for getting their Guam legislators and nativist groups onboard with the ridiculous notion that Filipinos would invade Guam and Hawaii. Racist Resolution 80 endorsed by the Guam Legislature was penned as a result of Fitial administration suggestions.

Anonymous 9:45 said . . .

So where's the verification? Your unionizing, conspiracy theorizing, opponent demonizing tactics are getting the better of you.

* * * *

Hawaiian and Guamanian opponents of allowing our guest workers to move there were acting on their own longstanding sincerely-held beliefs and advocacy viewpoints that have nothing whatsoever to do with Fitial.

Do you really think Fitial has any clout at all with ultra-unionist Abercrombie?!! If so, that explains why your own organizing strategy and tactics are occasionally so out of touch with reality.


Thank you for documenting that Fitial was apparently not merely an innocent bystander in all this, as I had previously understood to be the case -- though the temporal context is very important in determining his precise role.

In particular, the federalization bill was bottled up in the Insular Affairs subcommittee for many months after his testimony, and it was only removal of the status provision, instigated by Del. Madeleine Bordallo, that freed it up for passage. Is she a Fitial lackey, too? He wanted no such compromise because he was opposed to passage of the bill in any form. So it is a real stretch to say he caused it.

While my impression of uninvolvement may have been incorrect in the long-term, your interpretation seems to remove any element of free will, self-interest, and rational thought from Rep. Abercrombie, Guam indigenous rights activists, Del. Bordallo, and other independent agents who are in no way "under the thumb" of Governor Fitial. That is the "responsibility" and "verification" I was talking about -- proximate cause in legal parlance -- not some indirect alignment of mutual interests.

If you don't address that fundamental issue, success on the status drive will be reduced (as more and more of the poorest of the poor must depart), delayed, or denied.

And don't look at me. I don't have all the answers. You're the activist with the lived experience. I was just pointing out one area that you appear not to have considered fully, that has ongoing ramifications for the eventual outcome.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Bordallo is working with Fitial. He claims to have her in his pocket....

Anonymous said...

I very highly doubt he would make any such claim. What would be its basis?!

Anonymous said...
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