Forum at Kilili Beach

Photos by Itos Feliciano ©2010

March 20, 2010

About 400 foreign workers attended the meeting with federal officials held this evening at Kilili Beach. Many reported that they were encouraged by the meeting. Several said that they look forward to the federal officials clearing up the conflict formally, which reportedly will be soon, even as early as next week.

Worker leader, Ronnie Doca told me that very few people are going to the CNMI DOL now. "They are taking our advice and going to the ombudsman's office now," he said.

Mr. Doca said, "We are receiving so many calls every day from early in the morning. People are confused. Our advice is to wait for the resolution and in the mean time go to the ombudsman office, not CNMI DOL."

He mentioned that they have been trying to educate the community through radio broadcasts and word of mouth.

Rabby Syed said that the meeting was successful. "We learned from USCIS that their statement is correct about the umbrella permits. We were looking for confirmation and we got it. We are urging all our alien workers, our brothers and sisters not to approach the CNMI Department of Labor. I am urging the guest worker community to go to the ombudsman office or USCIS for any kind of assistance."

Mr. Walter L. Haith, USCIS Field Office Director Guam and CNMI, announced that if anyone has concerns or questions related to immigration or foreign employment to email him at . Three other employees of the USCIS attended the meeting, as well as some staff members from the Federal Ombudsman's Office, Jeff Schorr from the U.S. Department of Interior, and Dean Tenorio from the USDOL. Former CNMI representative, Tina Sablan was the moderator.

Mr. Syed said that the business community should also contact USCIS to ask questions and to get a clear understanding of the federal authority so the community and economy can move forward.

Dean Tenorio from the U.S. Department of Labor also addressed the crowd and provided information about their office's services. He said that their office is there to assist employees with wage and hour matters.

PL 110-229 gave immigration authority to the federal government and delegated authority over the foreign workforce to the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Yet, the Fitial Administration, and now the CNMI Legislature have arrogantly claimed that the CNMI DOL still maintains control over the umbrella permits and matters related to foreign employment. The legislature passed the ominous Omnibus Bill that contains several provisions that are believed to be in conflict with the Constitution and federal law.

Clearly, the matter must and will reach a resolution soon. The federal government cannot sit by while the CNMI government mocks and defies federal law and authority to the detriment of the foreign nationals, employers, residents and the CNMI economy.

Here are some photos of the event taken by photographer Itos Feliciano (Thanks Itos!):


Anonymous said...

The candles were a nice touch. The United States needs to take care of US Citizens first. These are very tough economic times and the CNMI is no exception. What about our forum?

The attention given to foreign nationals by Federal officials on Saipan is alarming. The vigil shouldn't be about the Feds it should be for US Taxpayer who pay the Feds. The taxpayers that fly them half way around the world, first class to hold a vigil. There are nearly thirty million unemployed Americans right now and the number is rising. To grant these people jobs over US Citizens now is borderline negligence.

The Republicans will win the next election and hopefully this madness will end.

Anonymous said...

Noni 8:23

Who are you? What do you mean what about "our forum?" There was a forum for residents and business owners at the hotel last week. Federal officials were there. Where were you?

Why didn't you go last night? The invite was for everyone. These officials live on Saipan and Guam. No one flew them across the world. They work at the local USCIS office. Ditto DOL and ombudsman officials who live and work in Saipan.

No one grants foreign workers a job over other persons. Only DOL thinks that US should get 1st choice. In US you get jobs based not based on citizenship or ethnicity, but qualifications.


Noni 8:23

I dont care if republican win this coming election.The most important thing is CNMI immigration is under the feds hands,just continue ranting and as much as possible dont hide on the anonymous skirt.

Captain said...

Noni 8:23 It seems you are not familiar with what is/has been going on in the Commenwealth (CNMI.)for the last 25 years and more.
Maybe you do not live here. It seems you also do not know what the basic problem in this particular recent case concerning Dept. of Labor (CNMI) and the US Govt.
If the DOL, the Governor, Attorney General and now the legislature did not try to step on the authority of the Feds. then there would not be so much problems, it would have stayed on course.
This is about legality besides the welfare of the workers (all)and the employers and the "transition" since the Fed takeover.
I would suggest that you do a little investigation on what is actually going on here in the NMI so that you are more enlightened then maybe you can contribute to the topic.
Have a nice day.(wherever you may be)

Wendy said...

One thing that stands out to me that I didn't put in the post is that the US officials are extremely willing to educate and meet with people. Since November they have been in the community helping with the transition, leading forums and accepting invitations to speak. I also heard that the woman in the green shirt is actually from the US Census and was urging everyone to complete their census forms. It took me less than five minutes to do ours!