Message to Foreign Workers

May 8, 2010

Dear Friends:

Two years ago today, May 8, 2008 President George W. Bush signed PL 110-229, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, into law. It was a long and difficult journey to reach that point. Many, who stood to profit off of the backs of the foreign workers, fought to kill the legislation and placed obstacles in our path. Many powerful, well-connected and wealthy officials, lobbyists and business owners opposed us putting roadblocks in our way. The journey was filled with obstacles and barriers, yet we rose up against the oppression, injustice and abuses of the foreign workers to support the bill that held the promise of reform. In the end it was those who lacked power, connections and money who were victorious. We were victorious two years ago today in 2008, and we will be victorious again!

Now we have come to the final leg of our journey in our quest for justice and reform. Soon the members of the United States Congress will consider status for the long-term foreign workers. I believe that these members will pass legislation to grant green cards with a direct pathway to U.S citizenship, or grant outright U.S. citizenship to the legal foreign workers who have lived and worked in the CNMI for five years or longer. To grant a status with anything less would be un-American and un-democratic. I have faith that my country will right what is wrong, establish justice and end the disenfranchisement of thousands who have demonstrated their love and loyalty to the United States of America through their labor and as responsible and contributing members of the CNMI community.

Many of you have lived and worked longer in the CNMI than in your homelands, and yet you remain disenfranchised. Many of you have lived longer in the CNMI than some of the islands’ voters have, and still you cannot vote. Many of you have U.S. citizen children that serve in the United States Armed Forces, but you cannot even visit the U.S. mainland. The time to remove the chains from the long-term foreign workers who have become the CNMI’s much-needed and respected long-term community members is long overdue. It is time to finally free the commonwealth’s long-term foreign workers and to make them full-fledged citizens of the United States.

To the residents of the commonwealth –the foreign workers are your neighbors, co-workers, friends, fellow-worshippers and in some cases, your relatives. They have embraced the culture and some have learned the native language. They have labored to build the CNMI, to serve the residents, and to support the economy. The long-term foreign workers who call the CNMI their home do not love it any less than the indigenous people do just because it was not their birthplace. Where a person is born is an accident of birth, but the place that a person chooses to call home is a conscious decision. The foreign workers were invited to the CNMI because they were needed, and they stayed so many years because they were valued. It is time to embrace them on an equal level.

The preamble of the U.S Constitution begins, “We, the people of the United States…” When you live and work on U.S. soil for 5 years or more you are no longer a visitor or a guest, rather you have earned a rightful place to be counted among “the people.” Congressman Gregorio Kilili Sablan was quoted by the Marianas Variety as saying that he “will not let any CNMI immigration-related legislation go through the U.S. Congress unless it is supported by the people of the commonwealth.” You are among the people of the commonwealth. In fact, you, the long-term foreign workers, make up a significant segment of the adult population, if not the majority. Let your voices be heard from the Pacific Ocean to the Halls of Congress. You are the people of the commonwealth!

A two-tiered system that promotes disenfranchisement of a poorly paid underclass is un-American. It must end and the only way for it to completely and totally end is to grant an unobstructed pathway to U.S. citizenship to the long-term foreign workers

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights recognizes that all people are entitled to economic, social, political, and human rights. A disenfranchised underclass in a broken two-tiered system is not privy to these inalienable rights. It is not acceptable that the greatest country on Earth has allowed people within its borders to be denied of these basic rights. There can be no compromise, no lengthy debate and no more delay. The U.S. Congress must act swiftly to ensure that all of the people of the commonwealth are given dignity, basic rights and a chance to work together to build the economy and a brighter and more secure future for every person who calls the CNMI their home.

I applaud your unity, commitment, and determination in your ongoing struggle to gain social and political rights, and status. Even though I cannot be with you today, know that you are always in my heart. I will remain as one with you in your fight for justice, democracy, freedom, political status, and human rights until the fight is won. We will be victorious!


Anonymous said...

YES! Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Mam Wendy, and thank you to those people who unselfishly devoted their time for this cause, thank you to the silent ones for their prayers, and thank you for those people who are silently helping us.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

beautifully written!

thank you.

Anonymous said...

We thank God for you is such a wonderful blessings to us! We have come this far because of your untiring and endless support. To you and all others who have been with us, we can't thank you enough and for now, we pray for you and your families that He may be with you always and bless you.

Anonymous said...

A Poem:

The free bird leaps
on the back of the win
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and is tune is heard
on the distant hillfor the caged bird
sings of freedom

The free bird thinks of another breeze
an the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

by Maya Angelou

Wendy said...

I love that poem. Thank you for reminding me of it.

Anonymous said...

your letter reminded me of it.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day! You have much to be happy for.

Anonymous said...

I hope one of these days we wake up and realize an impossible dream ......sweat and tears we had for how many years.

Anonymous said...

At some point, and not this year, the US Congress will select door number 3, a middle road position that does offer permenent residency and a path to US citizenship after 5 years of legal service.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:08 No, they will not. The five years have been served. It's green cards and a direct pathway to citizenship or citizenship.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:55

Thanks so much. To all the mothers in the CNMI too!

Anonymous said...

"The five years have been served. It's green cards and a direct pathway to citizenship or citizenship."

You need to stop speaking like you are a member of Congress. You cannot make promises of green cards. Where do you get your information from? Pam?

There may not be any immigration reform for years. A pathway to citizenship is just that, a pathway. Green cards take time as well and there are very strict guidelines. It is not easy. There will be no blanket immediate green cards.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 12:35

Oh I see. If I support a position you don't like I am speaking as a member of Congress? I am stating what I will push for. If another status is granted I will continue to push for green cards and a direct pathway to citizenship. I proposed this in 1989 and testified to it in 1995. I have never wavered and will not waver ever. Anything less is UN-AMERICAN and not in conformity with our country's democratic ideals. At any time the U.S. Congress could grant blanket citizenship without anyone needing to go through a green card process.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Wendy for all your efforts to help those who are in need of freedom from servitude. You are indeed an American. An important phrase from your national anthem applies to you and other Americans who work hard for human rights, "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just" Your cause is for justice Wendy! God bless America!

Happy Mother's Day!

Anonymous said...

makibaka, wag matakot!

Patience is virtue!...Happy mothers day...

Anonymous said...

Tita Wendy HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! Thank you very much for all your support and help!

Anonymous said...

Nonis 11:08 and 12:35,

Are you a member of Congress? You say what Congress will do, and then Wendy does the same thing, and you tell her, "Stop talking like you are a member of Congress."

Not very subtle, if you are a member. You might as well sign your name to it. We'd love to know your public stance, since we haven't gotten one from any member of Congress so far.

Anonymous said...

Happy Mother's Day Wendy! Your kids are so blessed to have you as a mother, and the CNMI will eventually be a better place for all children because of you.

Anonymous said...

Keep the faith!!! After a very long journey we saw "federalization" at the end of the tunnel in 2008, now we are taking another journey, a difficult one...with God nothing is impossible. More prayers needed. I was not born here but this is my home since 1990.

Anonymous said...

You misunderstood what Kilili said. He said that he will not support anything unless 'the people' of the CNMI agree. He is referring to the indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians - not the fifteen thousand aliens.

I wonder if the Interior is ready for a few hundred jihadists from the PI, Pakistan and Bangladesh to move to the United States with full cooperation from Congress. I believe there are three mosques now on Saipan alone and one on Tinian. There is a history of Abu Sayaf members on Saipan and most likely they are still among the alien population. God only knows how many radicals are going to prayer at the mosques. It's not only the Filipinos that MAY get improved status, Pakis, Bangladeshis and Russian mobsters are included is this liberal fiasco. Does Pam and Tony know this? I thought Homeland Security was supposed to protect the homeland? A naturalized US Citizen terrorist, an immigrant was just apprehended trying to blow up a car bomb in Times Square.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 2:58

I misunderstood? Did kilili tell you that? Really he doesn't consider the foreigners who have resided in the CNMI for 5, 10, 15, 20, 30 or more years PEOPLE?. Then what, pray tell, are they? THEY ARE THE PEOPLE OF THE CNMI! Yes, they are suppressed, disenfranchised, cheated, victims of racism and considered by many a lower class, but THEY ARE THE PEOPLE TOO!

And there are not 15,000 aliens -there are over 20,000. In fact there are more adult aliens in the CNMI than there are adult registered CNMI voters so they probably make up a majority of the PEOPLE.

You are a racist and you are ignorant. I challenge you to prove that any one of these PEOPLE are "jihadists." How dare you attack the PEOPLE of the Moslem faith? What Paki and Bangladeshi mobsters are there in the CNMI?

My daughter's best friend is from Pakistan and travels back and forth to that country all the time. Some of my closest friends are from Bangladesh and they are like our family members. I pity you. Please do not bother to comment here ever again.

Anonymous said...

They are not the people of the CNMI. They are contract workers who came here under contract, and were renewed year after year because they and their employers benefitted from the renewals. No immigration status was promised, and in fact was expressly disclaimed in the text of CNMI law and in each written contract. If you want to advocate for improved immigration status, fine. But please don't claim that alien nationals from a dozen different countries are the people of the CNMI.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 5:55

ALL people who live in the CNMI are the PEOPLE!!! Make a distinction between disenfranchised foreign workers and U.S. citizens in making statements, if you want, but everyone who is in the CNMI is a person and everyone makes up THE PEOPLE! If you want to oppose status fine, but the foreign workers are THE PEOPLE OF THE CNMI too!

Wendy said...

Oh, and the U.S. Census counts PEOPLE based on where they live, not where they were born too.

Anonymous said...

"expressly disclaimed in the text of CNMI law"

That is why the feds have control of immigration now and WILL grant US Citizenship to long-term workers.

The racist comments made above just furthers their cause.

They are PEOPLE!

Anonymous said...

Noni 2:58AM,

I hope you are Kilili because if you are not you just cost him a ton of votes!

Maybe, Kilili can clarify your statements if you are not him. I know for a fact he reads this blog and follows the comments closely.

Well, Kilili?

Anonymous said...

NONI 5:55 AM:

You're not only racist but sooo stopid. A haole from the mainland comes to saipan you consider them a PEOPLE right? A contract worker has been here for ten years paying taxes is not.

You stink!

Citizens of the CNMI Unite! said...

One thing overlooked is that our guest workers are still citizens of their homelands and still have whatever political rights they used to have.

Just this weekend, the non-immigrant Filipinos residing in the CNMI voted for President here! That is something the "People of the CNMI" cannot do.

Yes they are people. Yes, they live in the CNMI and have made great contributions. And if you insist, we can include them in "People of the CNMI" for political correctness purposes, though the term is commonly understood and intended to mean "Citizens of the CNMI."

As bad as you think such "second class" citizenship to be, Congress is considering a guest worker program for the entire U.S.

Wendy, your cries of "racism" are based on a chauvinism that values U.S. citizenship above all others! That is the true racism here, and it is sad that you are spreading that view to others during a time when global unity is so important.

Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens have resided and are residing all over the world, in Europe, Asia, Latin America, and elsewhere, without clamoring or protesting for citizenship and political rights.

Why? Because they are proud of their American citizenship.

Instead of denigrating their native citizenship and implying it is something worthless to be discarded like a worn and used undergarment, you should be helping instil pride in their own citizenship.

Who is the true racist here?

I know it may not be intentional on your part, but you and your supporters really need to re-examine yourselves carefully when you attack people like Ruth, or who are married to former guest workers, or who simply want to promote adherence to our immigration laws, as being "racist."

Attacking those with differing opinions is rarely the way to bridge differences.

Wendy said...

Anonymous C of CNMI 2:25

First, I never said Ruth was racist. I said," Ruth is neither a "slaver nor a racist." I respect her and she has a right to her opinion. However, I believe she is very wrong in her beliefs in this case. "(The comment is on another post.) I said that the commenter who suggested that Pakistanis and Bangladeshis attending mosques in the CNMI could be jahadists was racist and ignorant. Could you please read before you comment?

Second, every foreigner who has become a citizen of the U.S. came from another country. Some became dual citizens. Becoming a citizen of the U.S. does not mean that a person is being disloyal to his/her homeland. Such garbage.

Why wouldn't the U.S. offer citizenship to foreigners who have lived and worked in the CNMI for years or decades? Your spin makes me dizzy.

Anonymous said...

Quote of the day:

"As bad as you think such "second class" citizenship to be,"

Its not that bad. LOL. OMG!

Anonymous said...

TO Citizens of the CNMI Unite...May you be reincarnated as an indentured servant. See what second class is like. YOU ARE SCUM.

Anonymous said...

This early, I will train my U.S. citizen son to be compassionate, loving, keen observer and prayerful. I will provide him with a good education either in my own country or anywhere else. I would implant to him the poor values and bad wisdoms of history that it may never repeat themselves in their generation. I will retire in my country soon but I am happy that I have planted a seed that will grow and with the help of God, will be useful in shaping CNMI history in the future together with locals and other half-caste citizens. I urge all foreign parents of U.S. citizens children to do the same. Peace to all!

Anonymous said...

With respect to all the contract workers that have been in the CNMI for over five years, what happens to the people who have been here less than five years? What about workers that come in next month? Next year? Of course, they won't be here as long and will under some type of US worker system, which makes it better, right? The good news is I think there will be some improved status given to the workers that have been here for at least five years. The bad news is that is won't be exactly what you want. At the end of the day you "reach for stars, but settle for the moon" then live with the results, which will be better, but probably not exactly what you want.
And these are good people, but really, does that have anything to do with it? Really?