More on Status for Long-term Foreign Workers

May 28, 2010

Business Owners Weigh In

From a “moral standpoint,” he said foreign workers who have legally stayed in the CNMI for years should be given an opportunity to improve their immigration status, “at least a pathway to citizenship.” Efrain F. Camacho

It's amazing to me that not all businesses would support improved status for the long-term workers. After all if they don't many risk losing their skilled workforce.

One former president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce got it right. Efrain Camacho, president of EFC Engineers & Architects, told the Saipan Tribune that he supports giving permanent status to the long-term foreign workers:
“We are not being truthful if we say that people who have stayed here for a long time cannot be extended a better status. We all know that the local labor pool is inadequate, that the level of training needed is not there, and that the economy is driven by more people,” he said.

Camacho, a former president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and also a former executive director of the Commonwealth Ports Authority, said if some 20,000 skilled foreign labors exit the CNMI, the economy will tremendously suffer.
He said consumer prices, including gasoline and power, will also go up because there's going to be a small population that will be buying services and goods that need to be shipped to the islands.

On Rota and Tinian, for example, the prices of goods are much higher than on Saipan, where the consumer base is several times bigger.

“If you look at Hawaii and Guam, the goods are cheaper because there are more people to buy these goods. If the CNMI loses its foreign workers, expect the price of products and services to go up,” said Camacho, who has long separated himself from the Chamber of Commerce.

From a “moral standpoint,” he said foreign workers who have legally stayed in the CNMI for years should be given an opportunity to improve their immigration status, “at least a pathway to citizenship.”

“I'm very concerned that some people are talking on the basis of emotions and not being realistic that the economy needs foreign workers. The economy will suffer at all levels. I believe people need to recognize that the CNMI invited these alien workers to come in and stay, and they didn't come here as illegals. To continue to allow people to come here and ask them to stay for a long time and dispose of them when you no longer need them. I don't understand that. It's also the U.S. Congress that grants citizenship, and not the CNMI,” he said.
Mr. Camacho is a man who understands the economic questions and has a moral compass. Other business owners share Mr. Camacho's views. Chamber of Commerce member and businessman, Steve Jang supports the DOI's recommendation. He said:
“My staff is the bread and butter of my business. It would help a lot of they have improved status. The CNMI says they need foreign workers but they don't want to give them better status even if the federal government is already recommending it. The U.S. Congress can put a clause in a law which says these foreign workers in the CNMI cannot leave the CNMI for maybe two or three years after they are given improved status so that the economy will still be stable,” he said.
Another businessman, Wilfredo Chang, agrees with the others that granting status will bring stability to the population and encourage investment.

Businessman Juan Guerrero said the DOI report and recommendation "would help stop confusion. From a May 3, 2010 Saipan Tribune article:
Businessman Juan T. Guerrero said the report and recommendation will help stop the confusion on the status of alien workers in the CNMI.

Guerrero, a former gubernatorial candidate and former president of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, said “it will be more productive if the governor works with the federal government and not work against it, and to maximize the full potential of the partnership not only for alien workers but also for the local workers and the CNMI economy.”

“It doesn't matter whether we agree or disagree. It doesn't matter anymore because this is now a federal matter. We have to move on. This has been in discussion for a long time, let's move on and live with it,” he said.
Moving on would be productive.

Kilili Breaks His Silence

Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan appeared on KSPN2 declaring he doesn't support the DOI Report. Huh?

From the KSPN2 website:
The Commonwealth's Congressman is making it clear that he does not support Interior's proposal to Congress. The report suggests that the more than 20 thousand workers that have been here over five years should get long–term status. But Sablan says this is not in the best interest of the commonwealth. “I don't think there's any reason for us to keep anyone here that is not even working. They don't contribute to the economy. We need to look at this in a way that will help the Commonwealth. We also need to start hiring our own people,” he says. Foreign workers have been hoping that Congress follows Interior's proposals quickly. But Sablan says it unlikely U.S. lawmakers will act on immigration this year.
Give them citizenship and they can leave for Guam or the mainland if they don't have a job! Only proposals that chain the workers to the CNMI would be detrimental to the workers and to the CNMI.

I am pushing for action on status to be introduced separately from the comprehensive immigration reform bill for several reasons: 1. Too many uninformed people can not distinguish between legal long-term foreign workers and illegal aliens. 2. The U.S. mainland does not have a situation where thousands of legal foreign workers have lived and worked on U.S. soil for over 5 years and for many for decades. 3. We should not have to wait for comprehensive immigration reform to decide on status for the long-term foreign workers. Delaying the decision will delay economic improvement and cause more instability.

Siemer Pushes More CNMI Lies to Employers at La Fiesta Resort Workshop

Deanne Siemer, Fitial's "volunteer" attorney spoke via teleconferencing from Washington, DC. She really has no clue and maintains that the CNMI still has control over umbrella permits. According to federal officials they do not. Who do you believe?

Siemer was on KSPN 2 News saying:
"It isn't easy to deal with quote the federal government. It is not easy to deal with the Department of homeland Security. It has 16,000 employees. It barely knows what one agency or another is doing. And were are -I don't mean this to be uncomplimentary to the commonwealth but we are a small problem given what the Department of Homeland Security has to do these days."
Actually, the DHS absolutely does know how the CNMI Office of the Governor and CNMI Department of Labor have deliberately run an unethical campaign to undermine the federal position, defy and mock federal law, and threaten the foreign workers and their employers into complying with their costly regulations. (Expect to be sitting before a federal judge soon.)

Several ignorant employers spoke on camera on KSPN2 claiming that they would follow the CNMI labor laws even though it has been made clear that after November 28, 2010 the local government no longer has the authority to oversee the foreign workforce. Those speaking on camera who are ignoring the position of the federal government include Tan Holdings and
IT & E. Perhaps they are so wealthy that they can afford to throw their money away.

Another employer who appears no to have a clue, stated, "There are two positions and we can't say one is right and one is wrong."

Yes, we can. The CNMI position is wrong.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Judge Wendy.

Captain said...

It seems that those on both sides of the opinion on the status in regards to the CW have one thing in common
Neither one supports an increase in the wages.
One wants the slave labor the other wants them to have a "status" but work under the slave labor wage.
The wages should be determined in regards to the job classification and responsibility.
This one rate fits all does not fit in.
Why should an engineer get paid the same as a laborer?
Under a change in status many employer supplied things like housing and transportation will go away.
There also will be an additional payroll deduction such as Social Security that at present is not being paid by Phil.workers. (Japan has "co-mingled" funded SS with the US in regards to it's cit. workers)

The side that favors "status" also expresses "job for locals and training".
This has been "talked" about for so many uncountable years.
But again, what about the wages. Unlike the CW's that group together and live in cheap places and share CUC payments and an extension cord for fans, a TV and lights, they also usually share in the costs of food.
The local families, on the whole, live in their own homes and have a large CUC bill and other associated costs..

Without a wage rate increase, with or without status given, the local's will also remain at the "mercy" of these corrupt politicians and "connected" by depending on the Govt for a job.(and a command of their vote)

In 2011, without status, many of the workers will go home, or under the "H" visa system the wages will increase to AWD. (Area Wage Determination)which most likely will bring in more US Cit. to work (and vote)
With status, many will be going to Guam as many have applied for visa's already for the buildup. (leaving their families behind in the NMI)

This CNMI is holding business "hostage" by not renewing their business license if they do not comply with DOL regulations.
So this problem goes back to the Feds.
Until they actually come out and put out written directives, business will be forced to deal with DOL or not renew their business license.
Many business are opening in Guam for the buildup and only maintaining a license in the NMI with no employees.

By the way "Killili" is again showing his true colors of fence sitting.
He will be evasive and and won't commit to a true position until he finds out which side is the strongest for his reelection vote.
But by far he is still the better choice given the choice of Camacho.

BatangMakati said...

Yes, actually these employers, especially those wealthy and high profile ones are not ignorant of the DHS/DOI instruction. They have their own fleet of lawyers and massive arsenal of cash....
The main reason why they still take the chances of routing their employee process to the CNMI Labor is that no clear or official "REGULATION" is circulated by Washington.
I for one believe and is optimistic that Washington is not dragging their feet for the release of the final regulation.
We all know that justice will prevail to all disenfranchised CNMI foreign workers who suffered long enough and be given what they truly deserve. It is just a matter of time, and that time is about to come. God Bless America..

Anonymous said...

Both sides, the U.S. and CNMI, are claiming it is the LAW. All people say...WHICH ONE to follow? Paying $5.00 a day penalty to CNMI Dept. of Labor for not reporting back on umbrella permit "report back" date and not filing employees contract renewal on time is way too much to bear especially during this trying economic times. When do you think this will stop? Congressman Kilili Sablan released a statement concerning "DOI recommendation. Can he release one in regards to who has the absolute authority on CNMI Labor matters? Just asking......

Anonymous said...

Damn, why can't Efrain Camacho run for our U.S. Delegate?

TAGLISH said...

This is one thing that we need, the local people and more businessmen to talk. In favor or not, they should speak up honestly and with integrity! Talk not because you are asked to or obligated to do it. Let us know what you truly believe in. Mr. ECamacho has done his part, what about Mr. Delgado of IT&E? DocoMO? What about the attorneys here, most of them have non-resident staff? MCV what is your point? McDonald? Shell? Mobil? Triple J? Joeten store owners? Groceries/department store owners? Private schools? Golf courses? Hello people!!! speak up and share your thoughts, let us and the Congress hear you...Your DAMN SILENT!

the teacher said...

The minimum wage issue here has far more bearing, or impact on our enonomy than status. Whether a person is for or against status, it will not have an immediate effect on our economy other than allowing unemployed persons to leave for greener patures, which could include Antarctica given our terrible economy.

I scrolled down the comments (not all 13k +) of this article "Immigration law protesters march on Ariz. Capitol" on Yahoo and found only ONE comment of the first 30 for improving the status of 12 million illegal aliens in the SW US. President Obama must be considering the facts, opions, and trends facing millions unemployed and that impact on immigration reform.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with the Captain. All businesses oppose wage increases, status or not. Some figure limited "status" is cheaper than federal visas (with prevailing wages) which could lead to permanent residency and citizenship anyway. One wage fits all for does not work. Depressing wages in the CNMI needs to stop, and if businesses have their way, it will continue indefinitely. As far as Steve Jang, he owns Rainbow Color, and should hire local workers. Jang could easily train local workers for his photography shop, but he would prefer his foreign workers have limited status, so he can continue paying them the minimum wage. Same for Wilfredo Chang, his pawnshops could hire local workers if he paid his computer and tv technicians more than $4.55/hr, but he would rather give the workers limited status so that he can continue the low wages.