CNMI vs U.S.

March 25, 2010


Tony Babauta, the U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs said that "the federal government’s interpretation of the validity of the umbrella permits should prevail despite the CNMI government’s recent enactment of a law re-asserting local control," according to the Marianas Variety. From the article:
Babauta said different federal agencies have conducted public forums around the islands during recent weeks to educate the public about the interpretation of the U.S. government on the labor situation in the CNMI, particularly the legal benefits of the umbrella permits.

“In the past few weeks, there had been opportunities in several public forums for the interpretation or the position of the federal government to be made known with respect to nonresident workers and their status and their ability to work. And in turn, the CNMI government has also put out similar questions and answers. And the Legislature passed legislation and the governor signed it into law,” he said.

“I think the message that Pam Brown and the Department of the Interior, via Pam Brown, because she’s our ombudsman and also the Department of Homeland Security presentations made by David Gulick, are very clear about what the federal position is and who has authority,” he added.
Mr. Babauta also revealed that the report that PL 110-229 requires that the DOI release to Congress by May 10, 2010 concerning the immigration status of foreign workers in the CNMI is almost complete. The assistant secretary declined to say what the recommendations would be.
“We have consulted with the governor and the Department of Homeland Security on our report. Having accomplished that, our report now is being reviewed by the administration,” Babauta told Saipan Tribune in an interview at the Saipan Southern High School in Koblerville yesterday morning.

Babauta could not say at this time what status OIA is recommending to the U.S. Congress.

“It would be too early for me to say what the recommendations will be without having it cleared by the administration,” he added.

This was discussed during Babauta's meeting with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial on Capital Hill yesterday.

“I informed the governor that we're very near to completing our report, in submitting recommendations to Congress. .Right now, it's going through the process in.the administration side. Once that process is completed, then we will send it to Congress,” said Babauta.

Babauta said he has consulted with Fitial on some of the aspects of the report and is aware of some of Fitial's public statements on the issue. He said he has also listened to guest workers, the business community and other sectors of the community.

Nonresident worker groups and their supporters have been asking for lawful permanent resident status or “green cards” for long-time foreign workers and others with relatives who are U.S. or Freely Associated States citizens in the CNMI.

In December, Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos said in a news briefing that the Fitial administration won't oppose the federal government if it decided to grant “green cards” to nonresident workers in the CNMI.

Kaipat: New Rant, Same Bull
Apparently DOL Deputy Secretary Cinta Kaipat thinks if she continues her endless rant and misinformation, maybe someone will be convinced that it's true. It's not likely, so give it a rest already.

Her recent attempt to promote the Fitial agenda and the latest propaganda came in the form of an "Open letter to the citizens of the commonwealth." The piece is a regurgitation of administration's claim that it still maintains control over the foreign workforce. It is also another unjustified public attack on the Federal labor ombudsman, Pamela Brown. It's probably better to decline to even counter her arguments since that could be interpreted as giving Kaipat credibility. She deserves none. Read it here if you have the stomach.

Zaldy's Take
Marianas Variety editor, Zaldy Dandan wrote an editorial on the Fitial Administration's PL 17-1, the ominous "Omnibus Bill" supposedly created to align CNMI law to federal law. In reality it was drafted to ensure that the CNMI could maintain control over the foreign workforce and continue to fill their coffers on the backs of the foreign nationals.

Here is what Zaldy said:
The Fitial administration’s costly contention regarding the federalization law has already been dismissed by a D.C. court. Yet here it is again, rehashing its rejected arguments and still insisting that those who disagree are “incorrect.”

We are referring to the questionable piece of legislation, P.L. 17-1, which the governor’s office drafted and the Legislature passed, as usual, with unseemly haste, without even reading and studying the bill. Only two lawmakers — Reps. Ray N. Yumul and Ramon A. Tebuteb — did the right thing and voted “no.” But at least the speaker was candid enough to admit that they were merely complying with the governor’s “request.” The administration, typically, has to resort to doubletalk. It claims that this new law will ensure that more U.S. citizens are employed in the private sector. In reality, all the administration wants is to re-assert control, which it has already lost, and to collect fees that may help pay for this bankrupt government’s obligations, including the salaries of its political hires. And never mind the impact on the business community and what remains of the local economy.

Some have described this controversy as a “power struggle.” But that implies a contest between two equal forces. What we have here is an attempt to usurp authority that now belongs to the federal government, which must step in. The feds, as a local lawyer has suggested, must seek a declaratory judgment and an injunction against the Fitial administration.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kaipat's bs was written by Schemer. No one will go to DOL. Tony Babauta, Mr. Glick and Ms. Pam spoke. No need. Save our money.

Saipan Writer said...

I think you'll be surprised, anon, at how many people do go to Labor. Did you listen to comments after the SHRM meeting?

Employers are uneasy.

They may
1) not like change-they're more comfortable doing the same old-same old because they know how to do that.

2) want to avoid the cost of litigation. No matter how expensive paying extra fees will be, it's less than the cost of litigation for being the "test case."

3) desire smooth working relationships with the CNMI government and on-going business during the next 5 years of Fitial administration. They have more to fear in retaliation from Fitial than the US government, which doesn't typically pay back so directly (except for the Bush administration!).

I hope you're right, anon. But I wouldn't count on it.

TAGLISH said...

I agree with you Ms. Wendy “it’s better to decline to even counter Cinta’s arguments”. No matter what you do, black is black, you can’t turn it to white. Cinta’s and allies are being paid to do such foolishness. I think best way to counter them is for the Feds to have a solid stand and talk to the people more often. Reach out and educate the community. Feds should consider the fact that we are under this bad system for many years, abolishing it is a tough job!

Captain said...

By reading many of the comments in the paper, it is obvious that many do not comprehend what they read or are told.
I am not saying only the contract workers, but many locals also.

For the workers English is a second language, I guess it is also a second language for the "locals" also as most do not speak English at home or when they are together.
This seems to be a problem with the elected also as,(many of the older cannot read) if you give ten people a document you will get ten different interpretation's of it.
Again by reading the comments, many will still go to DOL as they still do not "get it".

The employers are a different thing, especially the Asian one's that are borderline "legal".
The Govt. can and will try and make problems for them. (the ones that have been paying off DOL)

Anonymous said...

captain, i totally agree with you. in addition, until the formal announcement from the USCIS or DHS is out in black & white, a lot of people, employers, employees, aliens & locals alike will still be in confusion and in doubt.

i'm not in the position to say anything but come on, picture what will happen after 11/27/2011, no more contract workers. exodus! imagine also if at least 1,000 alien workers are in jail.

where are the brains of these people who are elected in the government? perished? melted? depleted?

TAGLISH said...

So Captain, who do not understand English language the most? Is it the foreign workers/employers who are for the sake of keeping their business legal, avoiding retaliation of local government, abiding laws, and aiming to live peacefully with the locals here choose to close their eyes and follow DOL? Or is it these elected officials/ their lawyers/allies who I supposed are English people themselves or have studied English very well, twisting the laws because it’s their jobs, ranting, confusing, bullying common people and preferring to be in a fight than to live harmoniously in this small community?

Jay Solly said...

This underscores the importance of clear public information and a willingness to take a stand.

The governor already hates me, so I join in echoing Wendy's sentiments.

Well done!

TAGLISH said...

So Captain, who do not understand English language the most? Is it the foreign workers/employers who are for the sake of keeping their business legal, avoiding retaliation of local government, abiding laws, and aiming to live peacefully with the locals here choose to close their eyes and follow DOL? Or is it these elected officials/ their lawyers/allies who I supposed are English people themselves or have studied English very well, twisting the laws because it’s their jobs, ranting, confusing, bullying common people and preferring to be in a fight than to live harmoniously in this small community?

Saipan Writer said...

Did you see Maya's column today in the Tribune? This is an educated, English fluent lawyer, and she's advising employees and employers alike to go to DOL and comply with the CNMI "law."

Can you blame anyone if they do so? Even when resistance by ALL would be in their interests?

Wendy said...

Jane:

I have no respect for Maya Kara for several reasons. I wrote a letter to Governor Pedro Tenorio concerning warrantless raids on private barracks, pure hell and denial of due process in the detention center, a foreign workers' body languishing in the morgue while his friends and family searched for him and other scary and illegal incidents. She responded as acting attorney general with pages of denial, misinformation (lies), and excuses. What "intelligent" or honest attorney would back such behavior? Then I read Abramoff's billing records to the CNMI and was repulsed by the email exchanges between them and her involvement in his schemes. Kara reportedly helped to author PL 15-108 for a fee and was involved with that scheme with Siemer to try to convince workers to support a CNMI status.

Anyone can be "intelligent", but fewer people are truly principled, honest and stand up for what is just and right. A lot of so called intelligent people sell out to keep a job, to maintain cash flow, to keep friendships or to kiss up to those in power.

I am glad that some workers have identified an attorney to sue DOL, but at the same time I think it is wrong that the federal government doesn't step in and end this controversy. Why should the federal government act so meekly and allow the poorest of the people to have to pool what meager financial resources they can scrape together to sue the evil empire? I am on spring break and will be contacting ACLU, some human rights groups, federal officials and major media outlets to tell them about foreign national ID card law on US soil. Kaipat and the AG still never explained how this disgusting law will be enforced.

I wonder if Mr. Hasselback resigned because he IS principled? If so he deserves support and praise. What will happen with that case? Will this gun slinging husband of Aldan who was arrested for domestic violence be allowed to violate the conditions of his plea bargain with no extra jail time or fines while at the same time be able to keep a gun? Are these people serious? A guy who was convicted of a gun-related crime with a gun still in his possession is continually furloughed and there is no community outrage?

The idea of national ID for foreigners is repugnant enough on its own, but if you also consider this story and then massage gate you get a very clear picture of an out of control government that thinks it is above the law.

Wendy said...

Thank you Mr. Solly. Please join me in contacting Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Anonymous said...

wendy,

get a load of buckingham's public justification for ordering the aag to withdraw the motion. hurling the epithet of spineless at this turd is an insult invertebrates.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 3:38 Are you an attorney? If you are please can you explain? I am trying to write a post, but struggling to understand this. It seems so incredible to me that a person who commits a violent crime with a gun can keep it, especially after the plea agreement states that it was a condition that he had to surrender it. Is this the twilight zone?. If a convict violates the plea agreement can the court rule that he is in violation or does the AG need to make a motion? Seriously, with these people that think they are above the law running the CNMI, it is a scary place to be!

Captain said...

Taglish,
In answer to your question,reread my statement again. It is self explanatory unless maybe you are in the "unknown numbers" that fit the profile.
You also seem to be very hostile for a person that is professing a peaceful coexistence here by following an "illegal" self serving law.

Taglish said...

Captain,

You certainly misunderstood me. I was only asking you, that's all and nothing else. It's ok with me if you can't answer that.

I am a peace loving person and a good citizen. I support good advocacy and I believe Ms. Wendy.

Peace Captain!

Anonymous said...

And peace to Pamela S. Brown!

Captain said...

Taglish,
Sorry if I misunderstood,it is my observations by reading the comments in the newspaper by many that they seem not to understand after so many times of the different Fed people making their statements in regards to the umbrella permits etc.
It is impossible to know the nationalities who are behind the names and the statements.
I have the same problems with many of my workers here and in the Phil.
Although their english seems good and they say that they understand, they do not fully comprehend in many cases, so I have learned to try to explain many important areas more completely.
With the local politicians and other Govt agency heads, I have had first hand experience with many over the years not comprehending what is written on a contract or other paperwork in our past dealings.
Many times in the past these people in the same NMI agency will be arguing over what the same paper says. Especially if it is a US Govt. contract or PO.
Cinta is a perfect example and that may be the reason why she cannot pass the bar exam and reason for some of the other things she does (or not do)

yho r. villavicencio said...

hi captain,

most have said that cnmi dol capitalizes on foreign workers' and foreign business owners' fear instigated by conflicting translations of the same set of english words.

english i think is pretty much understood by most of above people. with google search being handy really helps. it is in the interpretation of the set of legal words that most have disagreements with because each apply their own sense of "logic" into the same sentence or different way of "reading between the lines". for example PL 110-229 says "...a reduction in the allocation of permits for such workers... to zero by 12/31/14. it is very common to hear "of course it will be zero because all foreign workers will be given status" or "it will not happen because cnmi can not survive without foreign workers", etc.

then some lawyers, some to exclude ms. jane mack, weigh in to further nauseate us with their more complicated way of explaining the law which prompts us to seek to explain their explanation.

at this point, most guest workers want to follow the ombudsman and other fed authorities on this issue.

most guest workers even strongly advocates to follow their advise, however, if you are an employee and your employer wants to go through cnmi-dol, are you supposed to refuse your employer?

the only way i see this being resolved is if uscis would issue a set of regulations soon, as in yesterday. those regulations should include provisions to directly address inequities in PL 17-1. several cnmi work permits are already expired or are expiring and employers need to be guided accordingly... and cnmi dol....

electric chair lawyer said...

most guest workers even strongly advocates to follow their advise, however, if you are an employee and your employer wants to go through cnmi-dol, are you supposed to refuse your employer?

the only way i see this being resolved is if uscis would issue a set of regulations soon, as in yesterday. those regulations should include provisions to directly address inequities in PL 17-1. several cnmi work permits are already expired or are expiring and employers need to be guided accordingly... and cnmi dol....


This is very insightful, Yho. The delay by USCIS has allowed DoL to step into the vaccuum. But USCIS regs could completely preempt Pub. L. 17-1.

And you make another good point. If the employer wants to pay the CNMI for an ID as a form of "insurance," why object?

Who knows, it could even serve as evidence when you apply for status some day!

Wendy said...

Electric chair lawyer:

You say, The delay by USCIS has allowed DoL to step into the vaccuum. But USCIS regs could completely preempt Pub. L. 17-1.

No, the "delay" in publishing the final regulations had absolutely nothing to do with that law! In January 2010 I published the draft that Willens had written and warned everyone of its contents. He wrote that draft as early as December 2009 because that is when the draft was submitted to DHS as a comment. So unless he was psychic, that draft was not written to fill any vacuum created by an absence of a final rule.

Yho did not say that an employer would be paying for a permit as "insurance." She said,
at this point, most guest workers want to follow the ombudsman and other fed authorities on this issue.

most guest workers even strongly advocates to follow their advise, however, if you are an employee and your employer wants to go through cnmi-dol, are you supposed to refuse your employer?


No foreign national needs a degrading foreign national ID as "evidence" for anything! The federal government already stated that they recognize the umbrella permits.