Tina Sablan's Unity Message

Tina Sablan at August 2009 Codel meeting
Photo by Itos Feliciano

May 17, 2010

Dear friends, tonight’s gathering is as much a celebration as it is an expression of hope and urgency.

Our collective efforts to realize immigration reform and improved status for the CNMI’s alien workers began more than 20 years ago, and have included numerous petition drives, prayer vigils, letters, testimonials, hearings, and gatherings, all conducted in earnest and in peace. Our journey has been a long one, to be sure, and though we still have a long way to go, I think it is important to take the time to recognize and celebrate the progress that has been made, and the aspirations that motivate us to press forward.

Federal immigration law now applies to the CNMI, and we have seen considerable efforts undertaken by federal authorities to work with the local government and community to ensure a smooth transition. Even more encouragingly, just last month the Obama administration, through the Secretary of Interior, recommended that long-term status should be granted to legal alien workers who have lived in the CNMI for five years or more. These are all positive milestones worth celebrating.

Our task now, as I see it, is two-fold. First we must appeal to U.S. Congress to act quickly and favorably on the Interior Secretary’s recommendations by passing legislation to grant long-term status, including a pathway to citizenship, to the CNMI’s legal alien workers. Our gathering tonight is a great start, and I am aware that there are plans underway to continue these efforts beyond tonight through petitions, letters, video testimonials, and other endeavors that will articulate to Congress our community’s urgent need for stability in the workforce and in our families.

Second, we must reach out to everyone here at home – those who understand and support our efforts, and those who may be fearful or insecure. We must build our coalition, cultivate our personal relationships, and take every opportunity to heal the false divides that have persisted in our community for far too long. We must seek to establish common ground with our brothers and sisters who do not yet understand that their views of “us v. them” and “alien v. local” hurt and demoralize the entire community – us and them. We must strive to help each other understand that a house divided against itself cannot stand -- or, put another way, that a rising tide of social and economic opportunity lifts all boats.

The United States is often described as a nation of immigrants. The strength of the nation lies in its diversity. The various pathways to permanent residency and citizenship form the heart of our nation’s democratic ideals. When we treat legal long-term aliens as future citizens, and afford them fair opportunities to become full-fledged and participating members of society, we uphold fundamental democratic principles, and build a stronger nation.

The CNMI, like the rest of America, has never truly been a closed society. Over the years, we have all come from somewhere else, some more long ago than others. Today our families, churches, workplaces, and community organizations consist of people of many different cultures and backgrounds. Like the rest of the United States, our strength here in the CNMI is in our diversity. Improved status and a pathway to citizenship for legal alien workers in the CNMI would build upon that strength, for the benefit of all – citizens and future citizens alike.

Although I cannot be with you physically tonight, please know that I am very much with you in spirit. I am proud to be part of this Unity Movement, and proud of all our efforts to take unified, community-based action in support of long-term status and a pathway to citizenship for legal alien workers in the CNMI. As long as we continue to support each other, lift each other up, and work together to build a stronger, more peaceful, and more democratic community, I have much hope for a brighter future for all of us who love the CNMI and call it home.


Happy Birthday!!!


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday Tina!

One of the most courageous women that I know. We truly love you!

sue said...

happy birthday! we are so gratefull for all the help and love you always share to all of us. may GOD bless you always...

Anonymous said...

Biba Marianas...Biba Mam Tina

Anonymous said...

Tina and Glen want to be elected into office. They write eloquent letters and hold vigils but lack any real substance. Their backgrounds? Not much of anything with no real world experience. Glen sold beer while Tina complained. They should know that it will take years IF EVER that the twenty thousand aliens get to vote them into office. I suggest they start sending out resumes - if they have them at all.

Anonymous said...

Rabble rouser!

If nothing else, they are giving the gift of time and what talent they do have to make the CNMI a better place. Glen is very intelligent, and Tina has a real gift for public speaking and relating well to others. (Among many other talents they both have.)

I am heartened that Glen has chosen to publicly step up to the plate, instead of “hiding behind her skirts”/ self-sacrificingly putting her first all the time.

Even though I personally have been victimized by Glen's vitriolic online attacks and his tendency to see the worst in those with whom he disagrees or perceives as a “political opponent,” and am offended by his blatant anti-Catholic bigotry, I cannot help but admire his long-term strategic view of things.

If they are willing to spend so much time and effort for the long-term betterment of our Commonwealth (and their own political gain), good for them. Isn't that what Fitial did?

I am hoping that Glen will become less vengeful with time, and less prone to dirty tricks. But I certainly do not begrudge them the adulation they receive from our hard-working guest workers who have been used and deceived by so many others.

I have no doubt that Tina's concern is true and from the heart.

We all hope you had a happy birthday, Tina!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday ,Ms. Tina! You're one of the angels sent from God up above. Just taken from the Miss USA Pageant, the winner is an Arab -American lady and the 1st runner up said... "America is against racial profiling"... The reasons many would like to go there and be part of USA.
...The winner is once an immigrant in the USA. More power to Immigrants..make USA beautiful.

Anonymous said...

We should also be thankful to Tina for getting us CNMI AG Ed Buckingham, who pushed hard for our umbrella permits!

Things often work out for the best if we're patient.

Anonymous said...

A vote for Joe Camacho as Delegate is a vote to keep Ed Buckingham as AG!

Otherwise, Joe will be put in as AG, and Ed given somewhere else to play.

No thank you. I'm going to support Kilili or Jesse. Will Kilili have the strength to support contract workers, at least those of us who have lived and worked in the CNMI for more than ten or twelve years?

Anonymous said...

lets just make Tina Governor right now. imagine Tina and Glen as first family of the CNMI. Handsome, young and smart!

Anonymous said...

lets just make Tina Governor right now. imagine Tina and Glen as first family of the CNMI. Handsome, young and smart!

Anonymous said...

Those who try to make the claim Tina's done "nothing" are a joke from the get-go. Helped start Beautify CNMI, promulgated and pushed for passage the transparency law as it applies to the legislature, helped give the disenfranchised in our community a voice, stood for principals and proper procedures at our legislature, stood as an example of how our legislatures should act (and spend), pushed for and got passed the 50+1 initiative, has given her volunteer service to almost every activity that's approached her, speaks out about injustice, speaks to the community on their ground about their issues.
Disagree with her positions, but to suggest she does "nothing" is beyond absurd. That it sheds light on the validity of your statements, that's for certain.

Anonymous said...

Hey GB, bet you're glad you got out of the AGs office when you did?

Anonymous said...

If so, he's eternally indebted to Tina and Glen, and likely includes them in his nightly prayers.

Anonymous said...

Tina has done alot, and she really believes in what she is doing. Not nieve, but probably biting off a little more than she can chew. Of course, this is the way you grow. You take chances, you fail, you win, you fail again, you win again. I applaude her for her efforts and while she may be personally successful in helping the contract worker situation, the overall result will probably be only a qualified success. I think improved status to the point of green cards is long, long, way off. And while I think that it could possibly happen it will take at least 8-10 years.
Don't give up hope, Hope springs eternal!!