Kilili on the DOI Report

May 28, 2010

Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan wrote the following letter stating his opinion of the DOI report. I have my own opinions and theories on the letter. What do you think?

An open letter in response to the Interior Secretary’s Report and Recommendation to Congress on Immigration in the Northern Mariana Islands —


Most of us found the report and recommendations to Congress that the U.S. Interior Secretary released on April 30 disappointing. The report offered five options for permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the Northern Mariana Islands for at least five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration laws of the United States. But the Secretary said nothing about the pros and cons of these options.

No wonder the report caused so much anger and uncertainty. Because what happens to the thousands of people, who we allowed to live in our islands under CNMI immigration law, will have a profound impact on the future of our economy, our government, and our families.

Many of you have written, or called, or spoken with me directly about your concerns. You are worried that the U.S. Congress will take immediate action on the Interior recommendations without consulting the people of the Northern Marianas.

The purpose of this letter is to explain clearly why that’s not going to happen.

First, Congress will not act quickly. Immigration is a very complex issue. In the Northern Marianas and all around our country, people are deeply divided on immigration policy. It’s unlikely Congress will take any action on immigration this year.

Second, you are represented in Congress now. When federal immigration law was extended to the Northern Marianas in 2008, no one represented us in Congress. As a result, the law has major flaws. But now we are represented here. And there is an unwritten understanding that if a law is going to affect just one congressional district, then the Congressman from that district should first agree.

Third, I am listening to you. I will not agree to any change in immigration law that affects only the Northern Marianas, until I have consulted fully with my constituents, and unless I am convinced the proposed change is in our best interest.

Fourth, the Interior recommendation is just a recommendation. The Executive Branch has lots of ideas about what Congress should do. But Congress has a mind of its own. Congress may never seriously consider any of the five options in the Interior report—certainly not the proposal for instant citizenship. But one thing is certain: eventually Congress will take up legislation to set a new national immigration policy. If the Northern Marianas is locked into that comprehensive immigration reform, then we are less likely to get a solution that fits our special needs.

That’s why it is so important that the people of Northern Marianas begin to decide what we want. We have time. But if we only use that time to say what we don’t want, we will lose our opportunity to get what we do want.

Like you, I too have ideas about what is important:

• I know there are not enough local workers for our economy. But I also know that local workers are not getting jobs they are perfectly able to do. That has to stop. We need to get our own people working.

• I know that if our population continues to shrink, businesses will continue to close, and more and more of our young people will be forced to leave these islands for better opportunities elsewhere. We need to maintain population to keep our economy healthy.

• I know there are people in our islands—who are not guest workers—who are being forgotten in this discussion and whose status has to be addressed. These are people who were born here in the 1970s, have always lived here, and have no other home. These are people who were legal permanent residents under CNMI immigration law and have lived here since 1982. These groups should be allowed to remain.

• I know, too, that our culture values family. And there are families in our community with a U.S. citizen and a foreign spouse that simply cannot afford thousands of dollars for attorneys and immigration fees to get long-term status for those spouses. We have to help those families stay together.

These are my personal views. As your Congressman, however, it is your views that matter. My job right now is to listen to all points of view—to consult with you and look for areas of agreement. This is your time to be heard.

We all knew that the change to federal immigration would be difficult and messy. When I came to Washington, as your Congressman, the law was already on the books. But I promised to deal with that reality and work hard to make the transition as “least difficult” as possible.

We have had some successes. Working together, we were successful at getting 180 extra days for the Department of Homeland Security to prepare for the transition. We used that time to convince Secretary Napolitano to allow Chinese and Russian tourists to continue to enter our islands without visas. The business community, workers, the Commonwealth Government, and your Congressional office have shown that with cooperation and hard work we can succeed for the benefit of all.

Let us continue in that spirit.

Respectfully yours,

Congressman Sablan met with DOI Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta in September 2009 to discuss PL 110-229 and encourage action on Pl 110-229 . He said, "I think he [Mr. Babauta] understands the importance of giving the business community and individual workers more certainty about their future under U.S. immigration."


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a politician fishing for votes.

Anonymous said...

They proved that Fitial won when they showed that they are against foreign worker's improve status; and Kilili is doing that to fish a vote. That is now the game being played, no matter who you are and what you did as long as you campaign against foreign worker's improvements you'll get the vote. They will suffer soon.
To all non-indigenous voters, it's time to think again whom you vote.

Anonymous said...

Counting his days from now to November 2010.

Anonymous said...

This is an election year for Us Delegate. If one runs for it they use the mask of promise.....and they dance the chacha even in the tune of tango. Be yourselves and sometimes the truth hurts.

Anonymous said...

He's triangulating, a political tactic perfected by President Bill Clinton. When a leader perceives that he does not have the popular support to prevail on an issue, he adopts the other side's issue, but advocates a less extreme variant of it. Clinton did it with welfare reform, gays in the military, etc., and prevented the Repubs from enacting draconian legislation.

Kilili must believe the majority of his constituents are against the DOI recommendations, and he's trying to show he's with them, but still take a principled, compassionate stand on the issue.

Let's hope he gets reelected, because we know what his opponents will do--kowtow to Fitial.

Captain said...

Again, I repeat, until the private sector matches the NMI Govt wages for the same jobs, there will be no way to get the locals to work. Even if the wages are met, the locals want the same retirement benefits as Govt sector.

These private sector employers will also have to start to give some benefits like most other companies outside the NMI. 401K, join in on the Govt retirement plan etc.
Without this there will be no preference by local people to work in the private sector.
The same with the training. This goes hand in hand with the wages.
Why should anyone go and get training to work for a low wage with no benefits when all they have to do is find someone "connected" to get a high paying do nothing Govt job where they do not have to know anything or show up all the time to get paid.

And yes "Kililli" is just fishing for votes.
It would be interesting to know what he says at the "rally".
Also as he is saying, ".....what he thinks best for the people of the NMI".
It seems like none of these elected ever listen to the majority of the people.
They only listen to the "chosen" few.The "connected" who want to keep the two tiered system.

Anonymous said...

Kilili has disappointed me. He made a big, no a HUGE mistake by participating at that rally today. He was by the side of the road making sure he could be seen. If anything will lose him the election, this will.

The rally had a poor showing, and featured trucks decorated with "respect our home" signs. There were more people at the picnics on north Kilili Beach Park than there were gathered around the basketball court for the rally. What a sad joke. The number of people at the rally were a 1/300th of the number at the recent motorcade. If that.

When you get into bed with the Rasas, and the Ataligs, and the Fitials, and the Guerreros, their diseases transfer to you.

Captain said...

Another thing that I have noticed with "Kililli".
In his newsletter, he had a story about his two "appointees" to the military academy, Maglona and Yoon.
He only ,mentioned Yoon's name with no background details, not even his parents names.
While he had a picture of Maglona and a full article about his parents, the boys scholastic,interests and other activities along with personal comments.
Could it be that "Kililli" is prejudice like so many other "locals"

Anonymous said...

I totally lost my respect for Kilili. No backbone, no respect to the guest workers who have show they love the CNMI. What a slap in the face.

Anonymous said...

disappointed to kilili..we really dont know what kind of politician this person is.when he talk to congress he always playing safe what he's talking about the future of the cnmi..but when the media ask him a question he answer like nobody's gonna control to the cnmi but the local people.they dont respect the federal policy.

Anonymous said...

where is the wife of Kilili? she is Filipina and she doesn't care he went to this rally? isn't it that he shows disrespect to her and her people?

Anonymous said...

This Congressman does NOT even VOTE in the US CONGRESS He is only a delegate. He does not have my family's vote now. I am married to local.

BatangMakati said...

Your guess is my guess. It's election time once again. That's how it is in politics....Some elected officials just throw away their principle like leaving their trashes away after a picnic at the park.
What ever happened to all your hushed up assurance that a rewarding resolution awaits the CNMI foreign workers?

Saipan Writer said...

I'm voting for Kilili because he is the best candidate. He is the only one who can beat Joe Norita Camacho (Covenant) and you can bet Kilili is a WHOLE LOT better than Joe.

Kilili's letter starts off bad, but he says he is still listening, and he recognizes some of the concerns that are our concerns.

If you are voting in the CNMI, now is the time to let him know what you think.

Anonymous said...

Kilili made a big mistake. I will let him know what I think of him joining a nativist protest.

Anonymous said...

Another "best of all evils" election. When will this end?

the teacher said...

Kilili will win and has done an outstanding job in his first term. A couple nonis above should be careful what they wish for, and hope he wins, given the field, or their dreams may come true.

Anonymous said...

I was at the rally and Greg Kilili was harshly criticized in Chamorro by Fitial and Herman Nong. Kilili did not speak.

When Fitial is on one side, then I know I want to be on the other side.

kilili said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There is still time for others to join the race.

Efrain? Tina? Heinz?

Anonymous said...

I hope Tina is pondering of joining the delegate race. She'll show the CNMI a principled candidate role in US-CNMI alliance.

Wendy said...

Hi Captain: Maybe the newsletter was abbreviated by someone (?) because both students are recognized completely on his web site article.

Anonymous said...

The Tina-tards all want Tina to run for office, but she had a terrible showing in the last election. The only candidates she got more votes than were TaoTano Dumba$$ and vehicular manslaughter lady. The majority of voters can not stand her.

Captain said...

I get a regular newsletter direct to my mail box. If it was abbreviated it should not be like that.
I reread the article again and I did not miss anything.
I will email his office in DC and question this. (along with my other thoughts)
If this is the case in regards to these appointees, I stand corrected on this issue and am glad he noted the two. This at at least restore some confidence.

Anonymous said...

I do not think it true that a majority of voters "cannot stand" former Rep. Sablan. Most of us admire her idealism. The despicable dirty tricks of her significant other certainly cost a lot of votes. And sometimes her earnestness can come off as arrogance or being a know-it-all. But her time will come. Just not this year.

Anonymous said...

Since Kilili reads this and wants to listen then please hear this.

You said, "I know, too, that our culture values family. And there are families in our community with a U.S. citizen and a foreign spouse that simply cannot afford thousands of dollars for attorneys and immigration fees to get long-term status for those spouses. We have to help those families stay together."

There are thousands of families of nonresidents with US Citizen children. Our families need to stay together. There are thousands of workers whose families depend on them and are hoping that after 5-25 years they can be reunited. Please listen and give them status. No one should have to work for more than 5 years to be recognized as a true member of the community, and get US status.

Anonymous said...

The local people should be united and fight for any thing that will deface their future political status. Our parent have fought hard to reach this far and no one could change without due consultation. We're not against the non-resident workers but they have to know where they come from. They are here to work and after work they have to go home. Where is home is explicitly on their employment contract. Let's not make this an issue. The local improves their living while in the CNMI and they have to appreciate that. Let's just keep the CNMI under local control. POLITICALLY,ECONOMICALLY AND SOCIALLY.

Anonymous said...

Noni 1:33 It became an issue when the aliens were brought to the CNMI and renewed continually until they became residents -albeit unequal- of the CNMI instead of where "they came from." The CNMI is not under local control. It is under federal control. To keep the CNMI under local control you would have to formally break ties with the United States. That would mean you would also lose federal funding. Is that what you want?


noni 1:33 ECONOMICALLY? NO you can't,You lack the population and human resources, look around the empty buildings around the island.How do you control the economics sides?

Anonymous said...

Please do not say that you are not against the "non-resident workers", because you are. If you are not against these aliens, you wouldn't be fighting the federal with tooth & nail, in giving nonresident workers an improved status. Don't belittle them and us with a stupid excuse. You should also KNOW what you were before, not US Citizen.

You want to control CNMI "POLITICALLY,ECONOMICALLY AND SOCIALLY". Well, (1) Politically, denounce your citizenship, give back your blue passport. Don't use Republican or Democrat Political Parties. You can use your own "Covenant Party. Create your own form of Government.
(2) Economically, do not accept any Federal Funding anymore, create your own currency, etc.
(3) Socially, create your own food chain stores. Do not go to Kentucky, Taco Bell, McDonalds, Pizza Hut. Create your own food chains, you can even name in "Tangan Tangan or Pugua Store". Do not employ aliens in hospitals, restaurants, send them home. Do not use the hospitals in the Philippines anymore. Do not transact business with other countries. Just socialize yourself with other Micronesian. Disassociate yourself with Americans too.

If you can follow these, then you can successfully run your own show, then you have a 100% control of the CNMI. Goodluck!

Anonymous said...

ANYONE who says that the long term alien workers should not have status because it will affect the political makeup of the legislature or change the outcomes of elections is a RACIST. ADMIT IT ALL YOU RACISTS! See you in church.

Anonymous said...

Noni 6:02 Did Fitial get back from the mainland before the activity broke up?
He was not scheduled to appear for this function.
I am wondering if you had a vision or something.
But nothing Fitial does surprises many people anymore.
We will be looking forward to read his speech tomorrow in the papers.

Anonymous said...

how many non-"local" voters are there in CNMI? we need to organize.

funny about kilili, the filipino voting block elected him, now he pulls the back-stab.

Saipan Writer said...

I am also distressed by "our" side.

Kilili says he is listening. He came to our rally and he went to the opposing camp's rally. Apparently, he is listening.

We can be glad for that. Too few people really do listen.

And name-calling isn't going to help-so for those who keep doing this, you are really hurting our side. Stop it.


Wendy said...

Hi Jane

I was just thinking exactly what you said -that Kilili brought a CODEL last August to meet not just with the residents and leaders, but for the very first time the nonresidents and guest workers as an entire group. He holds town meetings on every island and they are open to all.

I am not sure what "side" people calling names are on, but we need to appeal to Kilili, members of the committees, members of the subcommittee, and all members of Congress who will help push for status. There are some members of Congress who will embrace a cause because it is the right thing to do. It is vital that everyone realize that if we sling mud at a person, then we can't ask for their help and expect to receive it.

Anonymous said...

I did not see Juan N. Babauta at the anti-alien rally. If he stays away from that mob, he's got my vote for Congress.

Anonymous said...

Juan N. Babauta was at the rally. In fact, Juan was talking and sharing laughs with Oscar Rasa and some of the other speakers.

I also saw Jesse shaking hands with those at the rally.

Kilili was there but I noticed that he was standing near the back and listening to the speakers who were not very kind to him.

We all know that Joe Camacho was seated right next to Governor Fitial.

BOTW said...

to CWs - remember that what we have to do is to make everyone understand the positive consequences of giving improved status to aliens here. if you read or hear opposing views, tackle it point by point. we can not just plain say "give it to us". need to convince them all especially those who do not see things from our point of view.

we should argue our cause, not dictate nor resort to name-calling just because we disagree.

kilili is listening to both sides. if our argument is reasonable and strong enough then he can present our thoughts to the other side and most importantly to the U.S. Congress.

we should not be antagonistic. we have had successful peaceful assemblies, rallies, marches, and vigils - we should maintain this character even in the blogs.

Anonymous said...

I am not name calling. Kilili decided to go to the hate-filled and anti-American rally (see Sixto and others comments). That is his prerogative. He decided to bring his staff and hand out his letter on his DOI stance (no real stance at all).

I am, as he put it, angered, worried and disappointed but not by the DOI report, but by his letter and the comments he has been making lately.

Kilili, needs to man up and take a firm stance on this issue. There was nothing to fear contained in the DOI recommendations. Unless Kilili would like to have all alien workers deported. Is that what he wants?

What are the other options? The status quo? Burn the Covenant?

He says we need time and need to listen to the people. This issue has been going on for ages. It is time to take a stance and lead.

I will listen to what all candidates have to say and what their stance on status for CNMI guest workers is. That issue alone will decide where my vote goes.

Anonymous said...

The fact remains that KILILI WROTE THE LETTER ON OFFICIAL US CONGRESS LETTERHEAD AND HE HANDED IT OUT AT A HATE RALLY WHERE PEOPLE BASHED UNCLE SAM AND MADE RACIST REMARKS AGAINST FOREIGN CONTRACT WORKERS. Any US official who does that deserves to be scrutinized and criticized. He may be the best of the worst, but that is not good enough to get MY vote.

Anonymous said...

Noni 9:39 Pm.

well said, i agree with you.

Anonymous said...

Click on Kilili's letter and blow it up. On the bottom of page 1 is this, "This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer's expense. " That makes me even angrier. We had to PAY for this crap?

So much of this letter is untrue. He starts off saying, "Most of us found the report and recommendations to Congress that the U.S. Interior Secretary released on April 30, disappointing." I don't believe MOST were disappointed at all. I think some radical haters-ralliers were, but certainly not MOST.

Kilili said, "No wonder the report caused so much anger and uncertainty. Because what happens to the thousands of people that we allowed to live in our islands under CNMI immigration law, will have a profound impact on the future of our economy, our government and our families." It did not cause "so much anger and uncertainty" except with the radicals. Where was Kilili 30 years ago when the law was written and pushed? He used to be a legislator here from 1982 to 1986. Why didn't he stop the CNMI gvt. bringing in hundreds of thousands of foreign workers? CNMI leaders decided that they would bring in so many foreign workers that they would become a minority in their own islands. Now these workers are part of our community and they DESERVE RIGHTS. The impact is ALREADY HERE IN THE CNMI. Too late to complain.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing "racist" about respecting the countries of which the guest workers remain citizens, or respecting the equities of the indigenous people in their islands.

There are hundreds of U.S. citizen children of former CNMI workers living in the Philippines right now. Their time will come.

"Follow the rules!"

Anonymous said...

screams terribly racist when people are constructing laws to be followed and are being told not to do so because of racial factors. US Congress is trying to come up with legal measures to deal with people that have been int eh CNMI legally for the past 5 or more years. you and your group of hoodlums are telling them not to create these new laws. you have no legit reason other than racist tendencies to ask them to stop drafting those laws. DOI crafted recommendations for the construction of those laws and you attacked DOI.

you need to follow the rules. the CRNA set forth the rules. if US congress wants to grant citizenship to turtles they can do just that.

take your racism and peddle it elsewhere. as for equities of indigenous they took a backseat to USA constitution's equities among all people when we entered into the Covenant.

Anonymous said...

As our 42nd President so memorably exclaimed, "It's the economy, stupid!"

Opponents of premature status are simply encouraging adherence to Public Law 110-229, which called for an economic study before any change of status, and encouraged DHS to register all aliens before any status change, as well.

Go peddle your "race card" elsewhere. We aren't buying.

More and more people, however, are coming to realize the wisdom of granting Lawful Permanent Residence to those who have lived and worked legally in the CNMI for 18 years.

Biba Kilili!

Anonymous said...

people who have been here 15 or so years should be given citizenship because they, not the locals, built the CNMI!

Anonymous said...

Lawful permanent residence should be based on the proven contributions of individual applicants? Then, sadly, many will be out of luck.

We need a bright-line cut-off, with the qualifying residency based on actual economic and demographic studies.

Anonymous said...

noni 7:13am,

"premature status"? where do you get this stuff?

as for the 18 year threshold, you may want to reread that memo with your glasses on this time.

the thing that "more and more people are coming to realize the wisdom in", is granting US citizenship to those who have already contributed to this society by legally working in the CNMI for the past 18 months.

Anonymous said...

For contract workers there are no good choices for Washington Delegate. None. You might wish Tina or someone else sympathatic to your cause would run, but that is all they would do, run. They cannot get elected if they come out strongly for improved worker status. Remember, it is the locals who VOTE. It might even be closer than any thought, but they won't win. This why you have people running that are stongly in favor of NO improve status. Unfortunately this is a a winning stance. Kilili is not liked by this administation and that is why they are are doing everything they can to get him out. They want their own "good ole boy" in office. That CANNOT be good for the workers here. Don't love Kilili? OK, I can see that. But don't turn down a dance with the most unattractive man in the room (politically speaking) to dance with the devil.

Anonymous said...

Kilili may win again. Being an incumbent, he gets free press all the time, and he even gets to spread propaganda on the government's dime. Additionally, people send him money throughout the year, with a request or consideration of something. Will I vote for him because he is the best of the worst with a chance of winning, NO! 2000 votes could win the delegate race. If status alone is your platform I wouldn't vote for the candidate. A platform that addresses problems in the CNMI and solutions that the delegate can address will get my vote, even if I think there are 8000 people that will vote among family lines, but 1999 others that think the same as me.