More holes in the umbrellas

February 26, 2010

Can the CNMI government still engage in immigration functions? Not according to PL 110-229. Yet it appears that they are doing just that.

As I reported previously, umbrella permits will be replaced with CNMI-issued Foreign National IDs.

The umbrella permits that volunteer DOL attorney Deanne Seimer claimed were "free" and would allow a foreign investors and foreign students to remain in the CNMI until November 2011 are being replaced by $25.00 permits according to a February 26, 2010 story in the Saipan Tribune.

The Tribune reports:
The CNMI Department of Commerce will be replacing all temporary umbrella permits that were issued to foreign investors and foreign students on or before Nov. 27, 2009.

The distribution of permits will take place at the Department of Labor, Afetna Building, San Antonio, beginning March 1, 2010. Permit holders are required to surrender their temporary or originally issued umbrella permits in exchange for the replacement permit.
Please note that permits (both Foreign National I.D. and formerly known as immigration entry permits and/or umbrella) will only be released to the actual permit holders as they will be required to acknowledge receipt of their permits.
They provide this schedule:

In October 2009 when the umbrella permits were being issued, DOL announced:
In its effort to cover everybody-at least in the transition period-the CNMI government has extended the issuance of two-year “umbrella permit” to immediate relatives or IRS, foreign students, and investors on island.

Department of Labor deputy secretary Barry Hirshbein and special counsel Deanne Siemer said yesterday that the Commerce Department will separately issue the “umbrella permit” to foreign students, foreign investors and long-term businesses as well as permits for ministers and missionaries-all categories excluded from the 240K permits for foreign workers.
In another article, The Saipan Tribune quoted DOL "volunteer" Deanne Siemer:
She [Siemer] said that the umbrella permit is free of charge and is valid from Nov. 27, 2009 through Nov. 27, 2011. This, she said, will help stabilize the workforce and protect both employers and employees besides preventing undue damage to economy.

“It will bring stability,” Siemer said, adding that the new system is part of the “protocols” presented by the Fitial administration to the U.S. government.

According to Public Law 110-229, any Commonwealth-issued permit that is in existence on Nov. 27, 2009 will be honored for two years after the transition date, which is set for Nov. 28.
The fact that over 19,000 umbrella permits are being "replaced" by the CNMI government raises many questions. Why replace them if they were deemed "valid" until 2011? Wouldn't issuing any foreign national permits now be a federal immigration responsibility? Can the CNMI Department of Commerce or the CNMI Department of Labor legally create replacement permits and charge foreign nationals for such permits? Is this an attempt to continue to raise revenue on the backs of foreign nationals? (In its 2009 Annual Report, DOL stated that the revenue collected in 2009 was $5.4 million.) Is this another effort by the CNMI government to retain immigration and labor authority over foreign nationals? Is the CNMI government challenging the federal government to stop it from overstepping authority? Or perhaps the administration is hoping that the federal officials do not intervene so the federal government's non-action could be cited to give more credence to arguments in the anti-federalization lawsuit, to Fitial Administration comments to DHS, and to the revision of local laws to conform with PL 110-229.

Foreign students will be required to get visas through a Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) certified school or program when their CNMI Foreign Student Permits expire. Why should foreign students pay fees for permits issued by the CNMI government when they will have to get U.S. visas? The same question applies to foreign investors and retirees who are required to apply for a CNMI-only E2 nonimmigrant investor visa with the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) when their CNMI-issued permits expires.

What About Foreign National Workers?
It appears that the CNMI Department of Labor has also overstepped its authority in issuing Foreign National IDs to guest workers. In a previous post, DHS To Issue a Statement on Umbrella Permits, I wrote about the proposal for CNMI-issued ID cards. Foreign contract worker Malou Berueco commented:
malou berueco said...
this "identification card" for alien workers is not a proposal anymore...they have issued this already to few workers January 15, 2010 onwards. One of my good friend show this kind of card to me. S/he is an accountant with good and legal employer. Aside from that, his/her umbrella permit was also replaced though the first was issued was computer generated with pictures on it and an expiration date of nov.27, 2011.
As I expect, that DOL will do anything they want to do, even though they were saying it just a proposal only
What is a Foreign National ID?
As I was preparing my 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)."

The anti-federalization lawsuit and the DHS comment submitted by Kaipat, and the changes to CNMI law proposed by Willens are all attempts made by the CNMI government to maintain local control over the foreigner nationals and, in particular, the foreign guest workers.

Willens' 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, or repatriation? Absolutely not!

I do not recall ever reading whether or not the proposed changes were adopted by the legislature. Apparently they have been adopted since both the CNMI Department of Labor and now the Department of Commerce are issuing Foreign National IDs based on the proposed changes to CNMI law.

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.
Again, I question whether the CNMI government has authority to issue identification cards, which appears to be an immigrant action. Additionally, why would aliens 18 years or older need a CNMI-issued ID card in their personal possession at all times? Is the CNMI government seriously suggesting that an alien who fails to comply with their rules could be jailed or fined $500 by the local government? How low will this government stoop to collect revenue from the foreign nationals?

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 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).
In the proposed changes to CNMI law it is stated that anyone holding an umbrella permit must also have a CNMI-issued identification card: (emphasis added)
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.
Clearly, instead of ending local immigration authority, as PL 110-229 requires, the CNMI government has stubbornly shifted its immigration authority over to the CNMI DOL. Even the required new permits to be issued by the Department of Commerce to foreign students, investors and retirees are being handled by the DOL. The Department of Homeland Security and members of the US Congress who wrote PL 110-229 need to clarify whether or not the CNMI government can retain immigration authority and charge foreign national for such permits.


Anonymous said...

These people are going to get the CNMI and its Dept of Labor into big trouble with their radical criminal agenda. They are violating the law, interfering with the Constitutional rights of the alien workers in the CNMI, and when the s--t hits the fan, they will go back to D.C. and claim they were only "volunteers."

Anonymous said...

Wendy, you wrote:

"Is the CNMI government challenging the federal government to stop it from overstepping authority?"

It appears you have transposed "CNMI" and "federal".

Also, unlike deportation, repatriation is voluntary, so there is no violation of the law.

The CNMI appears to be skirting and attempting to stay on the proper side of the line between labor/commerce/education and immigration.

To the first commenter above, should they occasionally err, any such mistake is not "criminal" because Public Law 110-229 is not a penal statute. Willens and Siemer are simply being proactive advocates for their client. Do the foreign national workers have any advocates of equal professional skill?

lawnchair lawyer said...

Just a bunch of over the hill lawyers trying to hang on and keep feeding at the government trough.

Anonymous said...

As I have asked before, can somebody stop that volunteer? Is there any legal way of doing so?

Anonymous said...

Schemer needs to be put in her place. Ditto Willie.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious that the CNMI will try to cling to their power and continue to keep sucking every last penny from the poor foreign workers. No one should pay them one penny for a permit. The foreign workers need to STOP GOING TO DOL.

The feds already said that they recognize umbrella permits and no one will be deported. The CNMI gvt. should look for another way to get revenue. Stop paying Jenner and Block and get rid of the rest of King Fitial's advisors and we'll have more revenue.

Anonymous said...

I heard that some workers are being charged fees and some arent. Is someone at labor pocketing this cash? Shouldn't OPA audit this? Is this even auditable? Very shady stuff going on at labor. I think I'll make a report to OPA.

Anonymous said...

I heard that some workers are being charged fees and some arent. Is someone at labor pocketing this cash? Shouldn't OPA audit this? Is this even auditable? Very shady stuff going on at labor. I think I'll make a report to OPA.

Anonymous said...

The CNMI is trying to keep guest workers working in the CNMI. The Federal Government, having just taken over immigration wants ALL guest workers to return to their countries in short time. I really wonder what Wendy does not understand about this fact?

Anonymous said...

Anon above,
very well said

Anonymous said...

the very well said pertains to anon 8:57 a.m. not for 9:01 a.m.

anon 9:01 a.m. - you are so mistaken. just shut up!

red october said...


Anonymous said...

Good advise! Please do not entertain Schemer anymore.

Anonymous said...

PL 110-229 is not a penal statute, but violating civil rights carries criminal penalties.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:01

I understand perfectly. I understand that the CNMI government fights to keep the foreign contract workers as an ill-treated, disenfranchised underclass. Fights to keep power. Fights to keep collecting revenue from the very poorest of people in the islands.

I understand that the long-term workers should be given status. Apparently, everyone in Washington understands that too. If the CNMI government wants to have the needed workforce they need to stop their fight against federalization and the federal government. They should request that the workers be given status so they have the needed workforce.

Three years ago I said that the passage of PL110-229 and federalization was not a question of if, but a question of when. I say that today regarding status for the long-term guest workers and nonresidents. It is not a matter of if they will be given status, but a matter of when they will be given status.

In the meantime the CNMI government needs to stop milking the nonresident workers to feed their coffers. What a disgusting government that takes so much from the poorest amongst them, especially when so much of the money is used AGAINST the nonresidents. $50,000 a month to attorneys in DC, money for lobbyists, money for advisers and "special" counsels. So much money has been wasted and continues to be wasted to fight the federal government. The CNMI government needs to find a legitimate revenue source and stop practicing immigration duties with the foreign workers who do not need CNMI-issued foreign nation IDS. I have brought this matter to the attention of members of the U.S. Congress and federal officials. Thank you anonymous 2:01, I will bring this to the attention of the Civil Rights Commission also.

9:01, what don't you understand?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:06

I wrote it correctly; nothing was transposed. No, the CNMI has crossed the line here. The fact that they continue to bleed the foreign national workers who live far below poverty level is despicable. No worker needs a CNMI-issued Foreign National ID. The CNMI does not have immigration authority. Issuing IDs to foreign nationals falls under immigration, not labor. That's why the DOL took the immigration form and crossed out the immigration Division and typed in CNMI Department of Labor. Look at the form.

Another group of sharks preying on the nonresidents is the attorneys trying to take a cut from those who are applying for green cards or visas. Unless there is a problem with legitimacy of status any lay person can complete the required forms without an attorney. The USCIS will assist and answer questions. I completed my husband's, and two other relative's green card applications with absolutely no assistance. I completed the US Citizenship applications with no assistance. There are step-by-step instructions and it is an absolutely simple process that does not require legal assistance.

Anonymous said...

Your last comment is very true. Having done the same procedures I can say anyone with a reasonable command of english can do the same. It is ironic that many of the CNMI "immigration lawyers" hire nonresident workers at the usual $4.00/hr to do most of the processing and basically just review and sign off on the documents and charge you $1,000 minimum fee. USCIS have told a number of friends to work on the documents themselves and the USCIC staff will provide limited guidance and offer some assistance on questions. They are a breath of fresh air after having to deal with the exCNMI Immigration Division in the past.

Wendy said...

Anonymous questioner 4:47 -You need to identify yourself before I will publish your comment and answer you. I am tired of people attacking behind anonymous. Get some courage or don't bother to ask the same questions that have been repeatedly answered. Oh, and I am proud to be a libdem.

Anonymous said...

Isn't it that the purpose of the Umbrella Permit is to protect guest workers' Immigration status until 2011?

Isn't it that the DOLI even rushed until midnight of Nov.27,2009 to finish the issuance of the Umbrella Permits? and why? Because after Nov.27,2009 - the CNMI Immigration is no longer in the position to issue permits or any document involving immigration status of guest workers.

Isn't it that the Federal Immigration already took over the CNMI Immigration in Nov.28,2009.

Bottomline question. Is the CNMI Immigration still in the position to issue permit or any document involving immigration status of guest workers beyond Nov.27,2009???



Anonymous said...

Another $25.00 fee for the card? This only shows that what they did last year, the distribution of the permit was haphazardly done. Done without preparing for it thoroughly, just to show the Federal something. It should have been error proof and not like a yoyo toy. Can we just hold on our previous umbrella permit since it was stated before that it's valid and legal? I don't have an extra $25.00 to spend. I'd rather use this money to buy a sack of rice.

Anonymous said...

Here is the real deal why they do this:



Anonymous said...

Noni 9:59 Not simple. Illegal.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:59 a.m.

Does it mean that If I already have my previous umbrella permit, I don't need to get and pay for the new one because this new one is intended for those people who has not pick up their umbrella permits yet? That simple?