Comments on DHS Docket No. USCIS–2008–0038

January 8, 2010

There are several pages of new comments on the transitional worker program that have been posted on the site in the last few days. Many comments were submitted by Paul Zak, who is notorious for his involvement with the garment industry.

I emailed my comment to DHS this morning.

A couple of the newer comments address the comment submitted by Howard Willens that is a copy of the proposed changes to CNMI law to accommodate PL 110-229. The changes include requiring every alien to register with the CNMI and to carry their CNMI Identification Card with them at all times. It also proposes severe penalties including jail time and fine of up to $500 for violating CNMI registration law.

Obviously, the proposed changes are merely a way for the CNMI to continue to exploit the nonresidents to fill local coffers and another attempt to maintain control of their broken system.

Nonresidents do not need a local identification card when they are under a federal system. The proposal is merely changing the system of CNMI-issued alien permits to Identification Cards. What state requires foreign workers have state ID cards, to register locally, or to report to local offices? I can think of none.

Here is a comment by Roger Paul Evans:
The CNMI Governor's proposal to require that all aliens within the CNMI for a period of 90 days or longer be required to register with the CNMI government annually, and that such aliens be required to carry a CNMI ID Card, is another blatant attempt by the present governor to maintain control over aliens, and continue to exact (milk them) fees from them. No doubt, the CNMI government would charge the alien hefty fees to accomplish such requirements. In short, requiring CNMI aliens to obtain both a Federal status ID card, and a local status ID, and/or maintain registration with both USCIS, and the local government, are unnecessary redundancies, placing further, additional financial and logistical strain upon the alien.
Comment from Ron Hodges:
Will the US consider comments from this administration? The spin here is that the CNMI Governor, his sinister supporters, that fought federalization for a over a decade, now, after losing the case against America, feel compelled to offer comments and suggestions on the regulations. I would call it embarrassing. Original Jack Abramoff co-conspirators and financiers want to submit suggestions on the same labor and immigration regulations that smeared the reputation of America for labor abuses, non-payment, human trafficking, smuggling, and other assorted crimes, and now they want to assign aliens 'cards', that must be carried at all times. Either we need Gandhi or strict US intervention here before this administration requires alien workers to wear gold stars on their arm. This is why I call them shameless crooks. DHS should soon implement the CNMI CW transitional worker program along with the new transitional investor regulations already in place as is. These programs are sensible solutions for our fragile economy. It is a win for all citizens of the CNMI, a win for business, a win for contract workers that will be guaranteed justice and fair play, which is an improved status for workers. Countless foreign nationals arrived here as legal workers, later started a business, hired themselves creating their own work permit, brought other foreign nationals here on tourist visas, and even took a two year umbrella permit to be on the safe side so they can continue to operate their business with no status to do so in America. Others arrived as tourists and set up shop while many others simply pay yearly fees to citizens as their shill, or fraudulent fake owner. The two sets of transitional regulations will put all of them out of business. Two intents of this law are to end the failed CNMI labor and immigration system and to reduce the CNMI dependence on foreign labor.
Some other comments are chilling:
Attached is a telling and essential commentary by a female worker who was raped in her Saipan garment factory factory, lost her child to kidnappers who tried to sell the child to a Chinese ring who kill children to sell the organs on the Asian transplant market and who was then discounted by the local authorities and the CNMI legal establishment who were indifferent to her predicament 'because she was just a Chinese worker': "Please understand that we are not and never were "illegal" aliens. Every alien worker who has lived in the Marianas was an invited worker who entered entirely legally. Many of us were extorted and lied to and tricked into coming to "America" only to find out we'd be locked inside factory compounds with no way out and very low wages. We could not go home. We have survived. A few have thrived but not many. Many of us have no "home" to return to, since we have been in the CNMI for so long. Others are in fear for their lives, even sometimes from families in our native countries who might harm us for disappointing them by not becoming "rich in America." Please understand that the word "illegal" is used on us because the CNMI government changed our status while we were already legally here. We are hard working people who have built the economy in the CNMI. We are not "alien" by choice. We want the chance to excel in America, just as we were promised at the beginning only to be later disappointed and abused, threatened, raped, extorted and ignored or punished when we complained or asked for help. Please help. Thank you." Respectfully submitted, KENNETH HODSON O'HARNETT Saipan, MP 96950
A comment submitted by Susan Lee Marchetti suggests that the CNMI system of giving U.S. citizens hiring preference is not working, that the minimum wage needs to be raised and that yes, labor abuses are rampant:
As a US citizen, it has been difficult for me living in Saipan. First of all, preference is NOT given to US citizens whether that is the law or not. Every company I have worked for since I have arrived in 2001 has predominantly been guest workers and often I have been THE ONLY American citizen. The wages are set up for guest workers so it is impossible to make a decent living because there is no compensation for American citizens and wages are substandard. Imagine making below the annual minimum wage for a managerial position! There is no compensation for holidays, sick days, housing, medical, dental, etc. I have come across countless stories of US citizens being turned down for work for no specific reason except for, "not a good match", "we've withdrawn the job position", "position already filled", "transfer" and upon later inspection, the jobs are filled by guest workers. There's always a way around the system and in the end it is causing US citizens to move off island. Even trying to get a job in the public sector is extremely difficult unless you are locally born. I also have heard of several abuses to guest workers who are working no less than 15 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week and not getting any compensation for their time but are afraid to stand up for themselves because they don't want their contract to be non-renewed. There are literally tons of abuses to guest workers and US citizens alike that go unreported. This system is extremely messed up and it is very, very frustrating to be a US citizen here because it is almost impossible, unless you are a doctor or a lawyer or politician or something similar to get a fair chance at getting a decent job at a living wage. By granting all of the guest workers an improved status you would be overlooking the US citizens who live here and their rights to be gainfully and competitively employed and they will likely have to move away. Give US citizens a chance to at least compete on a level playing field.


Anonymous said...

Willens and the people who came up with the "changes" need to explain to the public WHY they propose to delete the human trafficking laws. Doe the CNMI Attorney general support this? It will be interesting to see if the 17th legislature approves such a despicable change to CNMI law.

Anonymous said...

If you email comments do they post them?

Anonymous said...

Kilili wants the CNMI Governor to control the workers.

Anonymous said...

U.S. green card holders are required to carry them on their person at all times. The proposal by Howard Penney Willens is little different.