Fitial Administration Grasping to Retain the Broken Local System?

January 6, 2010

As I was preparing my own comment to DHS I ran across the comment from the governor's "special counsel" Howard Willens. It states: "These comments define the changes to Commonwealth law to be made to accommodate P.L. 110‐229, Section 702(a), Section 6(f)."

I read the proposed changes to CNMI law and conclude that like the anti-federalization lawsuit and the DHS comment submitted by Kaipat, the changes to CNMI law proposed by Willens (or Willens and others) are yet another attempt for the CNMI government to maintain local control over the foreigners and, in particular, the foreign guest workers.

His comment starts by quoting PL 110-229:
Section 1. Section 6(f). Section 6(f) of PL 110-229, Section 702(a), provides: “Effect on Other Laws: The provisions of this section and of the immigration laws as defined in section 101(a)(17) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S. C. 1101(a)(17), shall, on the transition program effective date, supersede and replace all laws, provisions, or programs of the Commonwealth relating to the admission of aliens and the removal of aliens from the Commonwealth.”

This Convention defines the laws, provisions, and programs of the Commonwealth that are affected by Section 6(f). All other provisions of the Commonwealth Code remain fully in effect.
The proposed changes to the laws include: a CNMI-run alien registration and identification system, changing the words "work permit" and "permit" to "identification card", and CNMI repatriation of foreigners.

How can the CNMI government have an alien registration system and any control over repatriation if PL 110-229 shall supersede and replace all laws, provisions, or programs of the Commonwealth relating to the admission of aliens and the removal of aliens from the Commonwealth? Is there any state in the United States that conducts its own alien registration, identification system, repatriation?

In the proposed CNMI law changes, the name "Immigration" is deleted and is replaced by the name "Registration and Employment":
B. A new Part 1 (Registration) shall be added, as follows:
§4301 Registration of Aliens.
(a) Every alien who remains in the Commonwealth longer than 90 days shall by regulation be required to be registered. Registration may be renewable annually. The parents or legal guardians of aliens under the age of 18 are responsible for such child’s registration.
1) Registration of aliens who are qualified to work in the Commonwealth, aliens who are religious ministers and missionaries and work in the Commonwealth, and aliens who are immediate relatives of aliens qualified to reside in the Commonwealth shall be conducted by the Department of Labor.
2) Registration of aliens who are investors, business-owners, or students qualified to reside in the Commonwealth shall be conducted by the Department of Commerce.
3) Registration of all other aliens qualified to reside in the Commonwealth shall be conducted by the Attorney General
(b) Such registration information as the registration authorities may require, including but not limited to fingerprints, is confidential and may be made available only on request of law enforcement authorities in connection with criminal or juvenile delinquency investigations.
(c) Registration information required by the registration authorities may be taken on oath or by declaration. Persons employed as registrars are authorized to administer oaths for purposes of this section.
(d) Registered aliens will be issued an identification card, which will indicate date of expiration and nonimmigrant class, as well as such other information, including photographs, as the registration authorities may require.
(e) Registered aliens 18 years old or older shall keep their identification card in their personal possession at all times.
(f) Any alien who knowingly fails to comply with this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than 90 days, or fine of not more than $500 or both.
(g) An alien, for purposes of this section, is any person who is not a citizen, national, permanent resident of the United States, or a CNMI permanent resident as provided by Trust Territory or Commonwealth law.
Why does the CNMI government need to issue identification cards? What were the umbrella permits issued for? Why would aliens 18 years or older need a CNMI-issued ID card in their personal possession at all times? Are they seriously suggesting that an alien who fails to comply with their rules could be jailed or fined $500 by the local government?

The proposed changes suggest that the CNMI government may be duplicating what the federal government is or will be doing, for instance fingerprinting aliens.

The proposed registration is absolutely unnecessary. Any registration of aliens should be the responsibilty of the federal government. Is this a way to maintain their broken system? A way to continue collecting revenue? Another attempt to allow the local DOL to control the foreign workers?

Their proposal includes changing the words "entry permit" and "permit" to "identification cards":
N. Division 4 (Immigration), Part 3 (Employment), Chapter 6 (Employment of Foreign Nationals) is renumbered Chapter 3 and is amended to change the terms “entry permit” and “permit” to “identification card,” and as follows:
1) Article 1 (General) is amended to:
a) Amend current §4911(f) to read: “Identification Card” means the card issued by the Department using the Labor Information Data System (LIDS) or comparable system and delivered to a foreign national worker or immediate relative of a foreign national worker pursuant to this chapter;”
b) Amend current §4911(h) to read: ““Immediate relative” means a parent, spouse, or child, whether natural or adopted, if adopted before his or her eighteenth birthday. A disabled child of any age qualifies as an immediate relative if in the continuous custody and care of the parent.”
c) Amend current §4911(j) to delete the words “whether” and “or by deportation.”
d) Amend current §4911(l) to delete the words “enters the Commonwealth pursuant” and substitute the words “is a party.”
e) Add a new §4911(m) to read: ““Umbrella permit” means a two-year permit issued prior to November 28, 2009 by the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce, or under the authority of the Attorney General, to expire on November 27, 2011, that protects the status of the holder to remain in the Commonwealth until revoked or expired.”
f) Arrange the subsections of §4911 in alphabetical order as required.
2) Article 2 (Entry into the Commonwealth) is amended to:
a) Change the title of Article 2 to “Identification and Documentation”
b) Delete §4921.
c) Amend §4922 by –
i. In subsection 4922(b) by deleting the words “or part-time casual employment” and substituting the words “and provide for part-time casual and other employment.”
ii. In subsection 4922(d) by deleting the words “and forward it for immigration clearance”
d) Amend §4923 by –
i. Deleting subsection 4923(a).
ii. Amending current subsection 4923(c) to delete the first sentence.
iii. Amending current subsection 4923(d) to read: “Upon receiving notice that there is a medical reason any foreign national worker or immediate relative should not be permitted to remain in the Commonwealth for health reasons, the Secretary shall notify the foreign national worker and offer repatriation at the earliest date on which it is medically safe to travel. If repatriation is not accomplished, the Secretary shall forward the relevant documentation to the federal immigration authorities for deportation.”
iv. Renumbering the subsections as necessary.
v. Amend §4924 by amending subsection 4924(a) to delete the words “issuance of an entry permit for” and substitute the words “commencement of work by”e) Amend §4925 by –
i. Amending the title to read: “Foreign national worker status”
ii. Changing the term “entry permit” to “identification card”
iii. Amending subsection 4925(a) to read: “The Secretary shall cause to be issued an identification card which shall include the foreign national worker’s name, employer, citizenship, gender, birth date, expiration date of the card, and LIDS number.”
iv. Amending subsection 4925(b) to delete the last two sentences.
v. Adding a new subsection 4925(e) to read: “Umbrella permits issued by the Department to foreign national workers continue in full force and effect until revoked by the Department. Each holder of an umbrella permit must also hold a current identification card.”
f) Amend §4926 by –
i. Amending the title to read: “Immediate relative of foreign national worker status.”
ii. Changing the term “immediate family member” to “immediate relative.”
iii. Deleting subsection 4926(a).
iv. Amending subsection 4926(b) to read: “Each immediate relative of a foreign national worker shall be issued an identification card which shall include the sponsoring foreign national worker’s name, and the relative’s name, citizenship, gender, birth date, expiration date of the card, and LIDS number. The expiration date of the card shall be the same expiration date as the card held by the foreign national worker.”
v. Deleting subsection 4926(c).
Remember when Deanne Siemer and Cinta Kaipat said that anyone having a those DOL-issued "free" umbrella permits could remain in the NMI until November 27, 2011? Now they propose that anyone holding an umbrella permit must also have a CNMI-issued identification card:
Adding a new subsection 4926(e) to read: “Umbrella permits issued by the Department to immediate relatives of foreign national workers
continue in full force and effect until revoked by the Department. Each holder of an umbrella permit must also hold a current identification card.”
By changing the word "deportation" to "repatriation" can the CNMI government control who is subject to repatriation?
g) Delete §4927.Under the changes "deportation" is changed to "repatriation."
Amend §4964 by –
i. Deleting the word “deportation” and substituting the word “repatriation” and deleting the word “deportable” and substituting the words “subject to repatriation.”
Finally, what does this mean? Is the CNMI government proposing to delete the CNMI human trafficking laws and Anti-Trafficking Act? From the comment:
Section 7. Amendment of Title 6. Title 6 is amended as follows:
A. Division 1 (Crimes Against the Person), Part 1 (Crimes Against the Person), Chapter 5 (Human Trafficking and Related Offenses), Article 1 (Anti-Trafficking Act), §1508 (Immigration Status) is deleted.
The Fitial Administration is not unlike the 10 year old child who still sucks his thumb and carries his blanket around with him. Let it go already!


the teacher said...

DHS should soon implement the CNMI CW transitional worker program along with the new transitional investor regulations already in place. 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.

With the textile industry gone, CNMI labor abuse originates from small, underfunded businesses, the vast majority of which are foreign owned. A US investor visa in a rural area is 500k. People who spend 500k employ citizens at livable wages, which strengthens the economy and commonwealth. The CNMI transitional investor visa regulations will solve this old CNMI problem that the broken system could not. The two sets of transitional regulations will end the mess created by an abundance of foreign national freelancers. The US has taken a sound economic position on this matter. Allowing cheap business operators, who are guilty of immigration fraud themselves, to continue operating here would guarantee that labor abuse and non-payment issues continue.

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, and are now trying to ride the back of long time contract workers 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 federalization are to end the failed CNMI labor and immigration system and to reduce the CNMI dependence on foreign labor. Our largest employers have embraced these regulations and their HR departments have prepared their companies for the future to ensure employment stability.

Some think the 305. CW fees should be waived, and I have considered the merits of this strategy, but eliminating fees would not serve the intent of the law, as third party absentee “owners” would continue to “fix papers” if there are no expenses or liability. US citizens that “fixed” papers in the broken CNMI system will now think twice, or three times about committing immigration fraud. Real companies will support these expenses while cheap and fake operators will not. DHS should ease travel restrictions on workers though, as it is reasonable, humanitarian, and can also work as an enforcement tool to identify non-CW participants.

CGW’s have exhibited unimaginable patience. America is a country of immigrants and veterans of the CNMI can boost something that no other American can. Workers here labored to build a part of America while being denied status to change employers, move or travel freely, and have their families, including children, live beside them. I believe justice demands CGWs should have permanent resident status with an unobstructed path to US citizenship, but so too do I know that illegal operators, immigration fraudsters, and a broken CNMI system can be blamed for their current lack of status. The Ombudsperson recently registered over 21k foreign nationals. Our major hotels and largest employers have about 2k CGWs on payroll. How many qualify above 2k or less than 21k is anyone’s guess, but the new regulations will separate the workers from the freelancers, scammers, illegal workers and businesses, overstayers, within months of the umbrellas expiration. We can be sure that the CW regulations will identify the status of foreign nationals here.

By the end of the transition period, perhaps even before, the US should revisit the issue of permanent status of long time contract guest workers, and should include a path to citizenship.

the teacher said...

PS This is an outstanding post are a true defender of justice.

The concept of having workers be required to "carry ID cards at ALL times" wa identified by Gandhi in South Africa in the late 19th century. His first act of civil disobedience and defience there was to burn his ID card in public. He was beaten, jailed, and hospitalized over that.

Wendy said...

Hi Ron

I thought of South Africa too. The Fitial Administration's attempt to hang on to the broken system is sickening. The outright lies in Cinta Kaipat's comment were beyond belief. If I weren't so busy writing my own comment I would do a post on her comment too. I know Siemer wrote it. Check it out on the site.

Saipan Writer said...

I believe that the US could contract out to the CNMI government to do certain things, like alien registration. I've heard, but have not independently confirmed, that Guam uses a cooperative model like this.

I don't think the CNMI can do this unilaterally.

Nor do I think the U.S. is likely to find the CNMI to be a cooperative or trustworthy partner for such an endeavor.

I think it would probably violate civil rights and be actionable (cause for damages) if the CNMI government discriminated against aliens by requiring them to register and carry identification.

I'm not sure about the deletion of the anti-trafficking law. My gut reaction is negative, but ... 1) the U.S. has anti-trafficking laws and are now more likely to enforce them here in the CNMI; 2) I don't know whether other states have their own trafficking laws or rely on the federal system for this. So I have insufficient information to come to an informed opinion on this bit.

Wendy said...

Hi Jane

The more documents I read from Fitial administration, the less respect I have for them. The amount of false statements, spin and utter bs is beyond belief. I think the federal government would be very foolish to contract out anything to them. They have proven that they are incompetent and untruthful.

The ID card proposal made me cringe. The fact that they proposed to put new conditions on the umbrella permit makes me distrust them even more. Finally, the proposed deletion of the Anti-Trafficking Act and related crimes is beyond bizarre. Guam adopted an anti-trafficking law. New York, California and about half of the states have anti-human trafficking laws. Have I heard of a state that decided to delete such a law? No!

the teacher said...

Final comments on regs submitted on the last seconds

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. 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.

captain said...

In the first place, the NMI cannot keep track of it alien workforce in the past. It does not know how many workers are here, how many are illigal etc. Never has and has stated so. Immigration is the same.
With this proposal for certain people to report to certain agencies is even less likely to be accounted for.
Now if "green Cards" were issued they have to register every year with the Feds anyway.(used to be)across the US and territories.

All countries have yearly Alien registration, I and others who hold permanent Immigration status in places like the Phil. have to go back at least once a year and register. The various others with a status have option but still need to register.

What makes this admin think that this is "another country" when the Feds have control of the alien population?
How can this be possible to require this above what the Feds require?

What can the NMI Govt do if nobody complies, can they deport anybody?
Are they renewing any labor contracts?
It all seems senseless unless I am missing something here.
But then again this seems like a typical incompetent "volunteer attorney" thing.

some observations said...

It doesn't even make sense to delete the Human Trafficking Act. Could a reporter please ask him some questions!? Oh, never mind. WIllens what are you thinking, man?

I did read Kaipat's comment. The Kaipat comment and Willens comment were written in the same font, with the same margins and the same format. Deanne Schemer wrote both. The vocabulary in Kaipat's is the clue.

Wendy, where is your report that Kaipat references? Without even reading it, I can see she is way off base. Adding the fiddle Mcfee "I'll pay to to write what we need" report was another nice Schemer touch. They are so transparent.

Anonymous said...

Comment 3 of Paul Zak

Contract Workers allowed to bring spouses and children.

There are 15,000 workers on island. Under prior labor laws, children were not allowed to bring children unless married to Americans. Now during the transition, CW-1 workers will be allowed to bring in spouses and children. There are NO minimum income standards.

Lets assume 50% of the 15,000 workers have spouses and husbands. Assume that 25% of these workers have 1 child and another 25% have 2 children. That means with 15,000 CW-1 workers, there could be an influx into the CNMI school system of 11,250 children. This is GREATER THAN THE TOTAL CURRENT POPULATION STUDENTS GOING TO SCHOOL NOW.

There are NO classrooms. There are NO teachers. PSS has difficulty meeting the needs of local students plus American born children of contract workers. It simply won’t work. CW-1 workers should NOT be able to bring in spouses and children.

Medical services not available.
Just as the above situation indicates, the influx of more people on the island, especially children, will strain the ONE hospital on the island. Employers have responsibility to care for their workers but this does NOT extend to spouses and children. Virtually no contract worker has there OWN medical insurance. This means they go to hospital to get FREE medical care. Hospital is virtually bankrupt now and does not have the staff, medicine or equipment to service a potential influx of new patients.

Advance Parole
Good solution to the problem of workers traveling. USCIS adopted to suggestions made by Immigration and Labor officials here. Main complain of workers is that the fee is high in comparison to their wages. A worker has to work 67 hours to pay for the fees. But it is understandable and they should be charged to cover costs and NOT abuse the system.

Room for abuse in workers trying to enter Guam or even mainland. If a worker does NOT have B1/B2 visa, they should not be given parole. USCIS would be granting benefits of status they NORMALLY would not have to travel.

If a worker is going to loose their “job” status and having no other choice, they could be tempted to “disappear” into the underground economy of Guam or stateside and HOPE that future Immigration status might give then “status”. If illegal Mexicans will be given status, why not worker who arrives on a parole and STAYS.

Anonymous said...

Isn't Zak the crook that stole wages from the garment workers?

The Saipan Blogger said...

and would you trust the testimony of someone who doesn't know the difference between loose and lose?

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:13 In regards to Paul Zak, Yes and also dealing in the drug trade among other illegal things.