The Hearing, May 18, 2010: Part I

















Photos by W. L. Doromal ©2010

May 18, 2010

I just returned from Washington, D.C. and will write some brief comments on the hearing tonight and more tomorrow.

Testifying at the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans And Wildlife Oversight Hearing on "The Implementation Of Public Law 110-229 To The Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands And Guam" were: Anthony M. Babauta, Assistant Secretary, DOI Office of Insular Affairs, Dr. David B. Gootnick, Director of International Affairs and Trade, U.S. Government Accountability Office; Guam Governor Felix P. Camacho, CNMI Governor Benigno Repeki Fitial, CNMI Senate President Paul Manglona, Rep. Frederick P. Deleon Guerrero, Chairman Standing Committee on Federal and Foreign Relations, and Mr. Lamonte J. "Jim" Beighley, Vice Chairman of the Guam Visitors Bureau.

The hearing was held to review the progress on the implementation of PL 110-229 with the Chinese and Russian visas for Guam being a focus.

Generally, I would say, “same, old, same old” would sum up the hearing. The rhetoric from the CNMI was predictable. Requests for delays, complaining, blame, accusations, some whine, and not many solutions.

The governor was surrounded by his crowd of friends including Deanne Siemer and Howard Willens, Lynn Knight (lobbyist for CNMI government?), and a lobbyist seated next to Howard Willens, (according to someone I asked). Also present were DOI's Mr. Taitano, quite a few GAO staffers, some congressional staffers, and members of the sub-committee.

Many of the issues and questions raised required answers from the Department of Homeland Security, which was not represented on either panel. David Gulick, DHS USCIS District Director was seating near us, but he told me he was there only as an observer.

I had to leave in the middle of the 2nd panel's testimony to catch my plane, but for the first part of the hearing the members of the committee made some good points and asked significant questions.

In response to one question, the governor pointed out that he authored the original guest worker act as he does at every hearing. He said that the intent was for workers to come, train locals, and leave. Fitial also said that the federal officials are not respectful and have an "attitude problem."

When asked, DOI Assistant Secretary of Insular Affairs, Tony Babauta said that he did consult with Governor Fitial concerning the report in February as I mentioned in the previous post, "Lies."

The governor pointed out that he wrote a letter to Secretary Ken Salazar complaining about the DOI Report and asking for it to be withdrawn. From reading the letter and the snarky appendices I would wager that Deanne Siemer wrote all three documents.

When questioned, Mr. Babauta said that the report met the spirit of the law. I predict that there will be no revising or recalling of the report.

Mr Babauta told it like it is in his testimony. The CNMI government has been uncooperative and has refused to let go of the old system, violating federal law. From Tony Babauta's testimony:
The CNMI remains a two-tier economy where the private sector is overly reliant on foreign employees and the indigenous population is overly reliant on the public sector for employment. Because of the unique economic structure of the CNMI and the fact that approximately 50% of employees in the CNMI are foreign, private sector wages remain low and unattractive to U.S. citizen workers. Use of guest workers to fill virtually all private sector jobs- unskilled, skilled, and even professional jobs-results in emigration by many U.S. citizens who cannot find increasingly scarce government work. However, the growth of the Commonwealth will require the increased employment of U.S. citizens.
In addition, the CNMI government has made policy and legislative decisions that have led to much uncertainty for the community. For instance, the CNMI government issued umbrella permits to workers prior to the transition date (November 28, 2009), which it now states it has the power to revoke. While Federal agencies working with the CNMI to implement the CNRA have applauded the CNMI for issuing umbrella permits authorizing alien workers to remain and be employed in the CNMI for the first two years of the transition period, and have fully recognized the validity of those permits during the time, the insistence of the CNMI government that the CNRA does not preempt its ability to continue to regulate alien employment is fostering a climate of confusion and disarray among workers and the business community.
Despite the best efforts of DHS (as well as DOI and DOL) to educate the community, workers, and businesses, the CNMI continues to administer the same procedures regarding employment of aliens as were required prior to the effective date of the CNRA, including issuing administrative decisions purporting to revoke or modify alien work authorization in the CNMI. The CNMI Office of the Governor and Department of Labor have issued guidance providing contradictory and incorrect information to the public, and advising employers in the CNMI that as long as they comply with local law they are not subject to an important Federal civil rights law enforced by the U.S. Department of Justice that the CNRA extended to the CNMI. In addition, through Public Law 17-1, the CNMI has mandated that most lawfully present aliens, whether admitted by the CNMI pre-November 28, 2009 or subsequently by DHS, as well as unlawfully present aliens, must register with the CNMI Department of Labor or face jail time, a fine, or both.

One result has been a rise in service providers promising that, for a fee, an alien can receive CNMI authorization to work and remain in the CNMI. Some of these service providers have obtained such authorization from the CNMI even though under the CNRA the CNMI is no longer in control of immigration and alien employment in the CNMI.

Further, aliens who possess long-term business permits, alien investors, and corporations with alien shareholders are being denied business license renewals until CNMI entry permits are renewed by the CNMI. Many do not want to risk the loss of business revenue to fight the CNMI and simply comply at a cost of $1,000 per entry permit.
Governor Fitial's testimony was a long whine and complaint against the federal government. More on that tomorrow...






26 comments:

Saipan Writer said...

Thanks for the info, and for being there.

Anonymous said...

Guest workers are qualified for job still face difficulties in employment, One hotel HR personnel amids that they dont have opening for Contract Workers, but can accept application from US citizens and IRs and will be informed of the opening after checking their application. One govt. agency with continous hiring and specify from the regulation that it does not discriminate or state equal employment oppoortunity, one staff said ITS HOW INFLUENTIAL ONE SHOULD BE IN ORDER TO GET THE JOB,,,,,nice,,realy nice criteria,...

Anonymous said...

Any news about the hearing?

Anonymous said...

They are clowns that make you cry and laugh at the end.

Anonymous said...

"In response to one question, the governor pointed out that he authored the original guest worker act as he does at every hearing. He said that the intent was for workers to come, train locals, and leave."
How come they still want us to stay? did they not learned yet after 20-30 years? they tried, they sent home tech at CUC but found out that they still can't (not just CUC). When can they send us home? when we were 60 years old? why they are always keep us as slaves? if they smart enough yes I accept that we are slave but they're not, they're just pretending. (Sorry for Tina, etc. you're smarter than us but their Gov down is not.

Anonymous said...

Thank you mom for going to the hearing for us.

Anonymous said...

How I wished I could vote and have these persons Wendy and Tina installed in position... some are really unwise voter... it happened, yes shit happened!

Anonymous said...

Wendy

I was really glad to see that Howie and Schemer were there to discredit federal officials and lie about the federal government's implementation of the federalization law.

The federal government should have exercised its powers to take over immigration functions and establish a fair minimum wage at least twenty years ago. That is the only complaint that I have against the federal government in this matter. If they had done so in a timely manner, we would not be in the mess that we find ourselves in today.

Why Howie and Schemer persist in preserving the slave labor system and denying long term residents a path to a better status is a mystery to me!

My guess is that they like being big fish in a very small pond. As long as they get to be players and have their egos gratified, they will continue to provide bad advice to the Governor and his minions.

Anonymous said...

What????? Again referendum by CNMI people. Do contract workers fighting for CNMI greencard, if it is. So, there should be referendum in USA because they are fighting for US greencard or US citizenship.Let America votes who they like to bring to their country. CGW's will not stay and the local don't want them to stay in CNMI if they were to be granted USA greencard or citizenship. Wake up people, "horses dont need grasses if dead already"!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Referendum to keep Slaves... in "AMERICAN soil".

Anonymous said...

Howard P. Willens and Deanne C. Siemer seem to have a better understanding of basic economics than most of the self-interested foreign national workers demanding lawful permanent residence for themselves.

Howard's primary motivation seems to be assuring the successful implementation of the Covenant he helped negotiate or, more accurately, to whose negotiators he provided legal advice.

When you build something, and dedicate a large part of your life to it, you don't want to see it fall apart. What could be a more natural motivation than that?

People commenting about big fish in a small pond are projecting and indulging in the politics of envy. No amount of presumed ego gratification is worth the intense abuse and villification they go through on a regular basis.

the teacher said...

The Governor has always planned to extend the umbrella permits. That will split worker groups into many factions. Umbrella permit extension would again stall federalization for years. The Governor will also ask for a local referendum to use as ammunition against improved rights for workers. While human rights are not subject to vote in America, there may be some merit in a referendum at the local level so locals against status will have tangible evidence showing the wishes of US citizens here.
I think there was growing support for an improved status among locals but the DOI report shocked many people and the motorcade has caused a backlash. I would be shocked if the US Congress acts on this separate immigration matter in the near foreseeable future.

the teacher said...

The Governor has always planned to extend the umbrella permits. That will split worker groups into many factions. Umbrella permit extension would again stall federalization for years. The Governor will also ask for a local referendum to use as ammunition against improved rights for workers. While human rights are not subject to vote in America, there may be some merit in a referendum at the local level so locals against status will have tangible evidence showing the wishes of US citizens here.
I think there was growing support for an improved status among locals but the DOI report shocked many people and the motorcade has caused a backlash. I would be shocked if the US Congress acts on this separate immigration matter in the near foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

There was no "backlash from the motorcade. Prepared to be very shocked.

Anonymous said...

How much is the cash-strapped government paying Knight to lobby?

Anonymous said...

The question is How much this trip it cost to everyone???

Anonymous said...

How can you say there was no backlash from the motorcade? Because you saw a few local out there with the workers? 98% + of the local community did not attend the rally. I will agree that the only thing that will bring out alot of locals is free beer and cigarettes, but they did see the paper the next day. Forget facts in the CNMI. Perception is reality. Your "rally" is their "mob". Your "demand for improved status" is their "Economy will collpase". Your "equal rights" is their "loss of political power". Your "PI (mainly) flag" is their "CNMI Flag" (forget the American flag,just send money). Your "right" is their "wrong". Your "yes" is their "no". Until you find a way to turn this around it will be an uphill battle.

Anonymous said...

The Fitialites are smart. They know "divide and conquer" works, and that the "unity" groups would eat themselves up. Look what happened after the unity gathering. Many went after each others throats. Steve went here, Ed went there, Tina went there, Boni went here, Irene went there. It ended up a brawl of sorts.

People like "the Teacher" are playing into the same game. Not one person changed their opinion one way or the other about granting status after that motorcade. The Teacher, however, has been going after the motorcade with vigilance, by stating these things. This is exactly what "they" want to see happen. This is not helpful to anyone who believes that workers here deserve a fair shake and an opportunity to become members of this community, in more than just residence.

Rise above yourselves and your petty peeves people. No one will agree with every detail of your opinion. Rise above it for once.

Anonymous said...

The Fitialites are smart. They know "divide and conquer" works, and that the "unity" groups would eat themselves up. Look what happened after the unity gathering. Many went after each others throats. Steve went here, Ed went there, Tina went there, Boni went here, Irene went there. It ended up a brawl of sorts.

People like "the Teacher" are playing into the same game. Not one person changed their opinion one way or the other about granting status after that motorcade. The Teacher, however, has been going after the motorcade with vigilance, by stating these things. This is exactly what "they" want to see happen. This is not helpful to anyone who believes that workers here deserve a fair shake and an opportunity to become members of this community, in more than just residence.

Rise above yourselves and your petty peeves people. No one will agree with every detail of your opinion. Rise above it for once.

Anonymous said...

backlash.. where is this backlash?

Anonymous said...

Let's face the reality. Only a handful of vocal locals are supporting us, that's where we failed. Tina's loss in the last election is a gauge. I'm not happy with the result, don't get me wrong.If we don't accept our weakness then we won't be able to make it our strength.

The next thing for us to do is to plan for another strategy, another act. We already have shown our strenght by being united for a common cause,resulting to big turn out of participants on the last motorcade. I might be wrong but I think there should be a follow up while the momentum is still there,while the fire is still burning, while there's still a chance to plead to congress.

The more antagonisms we read, we hear, the better we will be equipped, the readier we are to defend our ground.

Brain storming among the smart leaders, symphatizers, followers, advisers, I think is in order.

Ron H, The TruthHurts, Long Time Resident, Captain, Melberlin, Malou, Observer, Jose Rizal, and other commenters' comments should be studied. We have to hear or read what we have to hear, not only what we want to hear. We can learn a thing or two, thus building up our defense.

I hope I did not offend anybody, just sharing something to ponder. Good Day!

the teacher said...

Very constructive insights noni 9:24 above. Bright strategy can lead to victory in struggles considered hopeless and has toppled empires.

"Divisiveness is the sure path to failure" MLK

Melberlin said...

Teacher,

Remember that even your children will express opposition to you if you perplex by many conflicting situations... you started to be our hero before then you become deeper in tone... just be consistent and we're with you.

You're a great person to be unchallenged.

Anonymous said...

Hi Melberlin,

where have you been? i have not heard from you for awhile.

Wendy said...

Hi Merberlin! Hope all is well - from Boboy and Wendy

Melberlin said...

Hi Anon 5/22/2010 9:02 PM - how are you? I am fully occupied but will be back soon.

Hi Wendy and Boboy - Hope all is well to you too, I just have a little chat with Boboy two nights ago and narrated to some of his photos that he's still my idol as a musician and friend.