Washington, D.C. Reflections

March 19, 2010


W. L. Doromal © 2010

Yesterday in Washington, D.C. I met my dear friend, Nousher Jahedi and his beautiful new wife, Lipe. As we walked from a meeting in Senate Hart Building to another one in the House Rayburn Building we passed the U.S. Supreme Court. In front of the imposing building to each side of the wide marble steps were banners that rippled in the wind. The noise made me look up. I was struck by the flag that is pictured here. In crayon-colored letters were written some of the basic laws that form the moral foundation for our country's most basic principles: We the people; All men are created equal; Consent of the governed; Trial by jury; and Freedom of speech.

Maybe it was because I was in the company of a former CNMI foreign worker or because of my purpose for being in Washington, DC, which was to bring the message of the foreign workers to the members of the U.S. Congress and to witness the hearing later in the day, that the words on the banner held significant meaning. The banner seemed to be a confirmation to persevere and continue the fight for social and political justice for the foreign workers of the CNMI.

We the people - The long-term foreign workers make up a majority of the adult population of the CNMI and should be treated with respect. They must be given social and political rights. Their contributions are not only significant, but essential. Without these people the CNMI economy will collapse and the entire CNMI will revert back to the pre-boom Marianas and a subsistence economy. There are just not enough people in the CNMI to fill all of the positions in the private sector. These are not people who invaded the CNMI or people who entered the islands illegally. These are legal foreign contract workers who are there legally. People who are important members of the community - neighbors, parishioners, volunteers, parents, and co-workers. They too are the people of the CNMI.

All men are created equal - Where a person is born is an accident of birth. The place that a person calls their home is a conscious choice. If people are invited to work and live in a community and are contributing to the betterment of the society then they should be regarded as equals in every sense of the word.

Consent of the governed - Every person in a community who has resided there for an extended length of time should have a voice in the decisions of the government. A U.S. citizen can move to the CNMI and be given the right to vote in an election after only 90 days, but a foreign worker who has resided in the CNMI for years or even decades is denied of this right. This is counter to basic American principles. This is why we need immigration reform not just in the CNMI, but across our great nation.

Trial by jury - Every defendant should be afforded the right to have a trial with a jury of their peers. Every victim of a crime and every plaintiff in every lawsuit should have the security of knowing that an impartial jury will be seated so that he/she has an equal chance of receiving justice. Having a non-U.S. citizen serve on the jury does not conflict with the U.S. Constitution. However, in the CNMI no foreign workers and no non-residents are allowed to serve on juries. Partiality is unavoidable and justice may not be realized in a locality where half or more of the population is unrepresented on juries. Can a foreign worker who is the victim of a rape receive justice in the CNMI when the jury pool excludes representation from the foreign worker community? I say not always, and the reason is not only because of who is on the jury, but also who is not allowed to serve.

Freedom of speech - Whenever I hear people denounce a rally, an assembly, a forum, a petition, a letter drive, a blog, a report, a testimony, a letter to the editor or any number of other activities we have instituted to call attention to the plight of the foreign workers, I know they are protesting the fact that we are getting the truth out. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right and one of the only rights on non-residents. It is also the only tool of unfunded advocates like myself. It is the only right of disenfranchised foreign workers. We must never let our voices go unheard!

We must also encourage opposing viewpoints to be expressed. Although I generally disagree with the governor and others who view the foreign workers as pawns in their money game, I would never deny them the right to their opinions. It's ironic that this administration faults the federal government for not "consulting" with them concerning the DOI report and yet the issue is about the status of the foreign workers and they do not offer them a voice, but belittle them when they speak out.

For over twenty years the long-term foreign workers and their advocates have fought for their share of the basic American rights that were depicted on the banner that waves in front of the Supreme Court building.

For over three decades people have tried to silence the voices of advocates and the foreign workers using threats, bullying, financial punishment and manipulative arguments like, "Expression is an disrespectful to the local population." What is disrespectful is a two-tired system where foreigners have been treated as commodities rather than people.

We have watched CNMI leaders, lobbyists and others attempt to silence our voices and deny social and political rights and equality to the long-term foreign workers. My friend, Nousher, was one person who was attacked by the Abramoff army of obstructionists as they deliberately attempted to silence his voice and deny his rights.

I first met Nousher in January 1998 when I was hired by the Clinton Administration's Department of Interior to lead a seven-member team of human rights advocates and attorneys to investigate and document the current status of the foreign contract workers in the CNMI. After video-taping and interviewing over 400 guest workers, including Nousher, a report, entitled CNMI Labor and Human Rights Abuse Status Report, was issued.

The report, written and edited by me and former U.S. DOL attorney, Faye von Wrangel was supplemented with hundreds of pages of attachments, which included police complaints, labor cases, workers' testimonies, statistical data, video footage, audio tapes, and newspaper articles. It was given to key members of Congress, cabinet members, members of the House Natural Resource Committee and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Some of those committee members including Don Young (R-Alaska), Bob Schaffer (R-CO), and John Doolittle (R-CA) were foot soldiers for Abramoff.

That report was attacked by Abramoff and his goon-like army of truth killers for years. Among the organized Abramoff attackers were former CNMI Attorney General Robert Dunlap, former Governor Frolian Tenorio, former press secretary Mark Broadhurst, lobbyists, right-wing think-tankers, the bribed members of the U.S. Congress, Willie Tan, Eloy Inos, Benigno Fitial, and some CNMI and U.S. journalists paid to plant anti-advocate, anti-worker, anti-DOI, and anti-status report stories.

Abramoff's billing records to the CNMI indicate that the bill that for the attack on the 1998 report, targeted guest workers, Nousher, and myself ran in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Cha-ching! What a waste of the taxpayers' hard-earned dollars as the CNMI slipped into disarray for lack of funds.

So obsessed were they with blocking the truth, that they had me "investigated", went after an innocent writer from the Reader's Digest, and even had spies at a national Filipino meeting at George Washington University and Smithsonian where my husband and I spoke in 1998. The CNMI was billed for that little plot too. Really Abramoff-esque, as he was ever the "freedom fighter" and master of drama.

But it is what they did to Nousher that is truly unforgivable. In January 1998, Nousher was living in a ramshackle house with 25 other Bangladeshi guest workers. They crammed into the small rooms and shared a tiny bathroom. Their kitchen consisted of a tiny refrigerator and a two burner hot plate. They had running water only in the small bathroom. I was struck by Nousher's intelligence and gentleness. He assisted me with interviews and helped to connect me to others to document their stories. I have over one hour of video interviews and one box of documents just from interviewing Nousher and those living in his house.

In 1996 Nousher and 11 other Bangladeshis paid a Bangladeshi broker, M.A. Gafur Miah $7,000 to be commercial cleaners in "United States of America." Miah and his partner, CNMI resident Margie Tudela, of The Pyramid Enterprises ran the recruitment scheme issuing fraudulent CNMI entry and work permits.

Nousher and other victims of the scam were issued entry permits, and were told they would enter the United States via the Philippines. Recruiter Margie Tudela, a Filipina, kept them in Laguna Philippines for four months where they were virtual slaves. They were told that the entry permits for them to enter the CNMI were fake, and she needed to exchange them for valid ones with her friends who worked in the CNMI Department of Immigration. Ramon O. Llamzon, a friend of Tudela, filled out an affidavit of support to keep the men in the Philippines "working" under Tudela's sponsorship.

Finally, on October 19, 1996, Nousher and the other Bangladeshi men were flown to Saipan where they learned that there was no job for them. They were told they must pay an additional $29,000 to secure work. None of them had the money. A few of the men were given work for 8 days in November. That was it - eight days of work in exchange for a $7,000 recruitment fee. To pay for the recruitment fees, some of the victims had sold their land, some sold family jewels, and most took out high interest loans. All were deeply in debt and were afraid to return to their homelands where their owed money that they could never repay. Between 1992 and 1999 dozens of illegal recruiters raked in hundreds of thousands of dollars, bilking hundreds of innocent Asians looking for work and seeking the American dream. Nousher was one of many.

In a Saipan video interview in February 1998, I asked Nousher why he accepted the job. He explained that he had worked in Saudi Arabia on a US Air Force base, and had excellent employers and good pay. So when the recruiter told him that Saipan was in the United States - just a train-ride away from Los Angeles, he jumped at the chance to work on U.S. soil. He was shocked when the plane was going to land on the small island. He realized at that moment that he had been scammed. You can hear Nousher briefly describe his ordeal in an NPR interview from 2006.

In 1999, I was contacted by Melanie Orhant and Steve Glaster of the Washington, D.C. based non-profit organization, Global Survival Network. They were interested in writing a report and producing a video about the status of the CNMI guest workers, saying that they would educate the grass roots, and help end the abuses. I copied hundreds of documents for them, sent them video footage from 1992 - 1998 containing guest worker interviews, and put them in contact with key guest worker leaders who could help them with their investigation. One of those guest workers was Nousher who had become very close to me and my family.

The Global Survival Network, for the most part, retraced the path that we had laid in the 1998 investigative trip, wrote a report which reinforced what had been written in the 1998 report, and made a video similar to the one I had made previously. Their findings matched those of the 1998 investigative team and served as an updated reconfirmation of our investigation and report.

The Global Survival Network brought Nousher to Washington, D.C. to testify at the September 16, 1999 House Committee Hearing. At around 12:30am on the morning of the hearing, I was awakened by a call from Nousher. He was very concerned that Congressman named Bob Schaffer had called him earlier that evening to quiz him about how he got to Washington, DC, what kind of visa he had, what he was doing in the states, who helped him write his testimony and similar questions. I thought it was very unusual that a U.S. Congressman would call to interrogate a witness before a hearing. I had never heard of this before. But then again, at that time I also did not know about the Abramoff plot between Abramoff, Fitial, Inos and Tan that was revealed in the "secret memo." Included in the memo was a plot to take down witnesses at future hearings -witnesses like Nousher.

The September 16, 1999 hearing was a total mockery of justice. I planned on going, but at the last minute I canceled my flight because a hurricane hit the East Coast. In fact, the hearing took place during the hurricane. Nousher told me that he was drilled relentlessly by Schaffer with questions about federal officials, Department of Interior officials, and who paid for protests conducted by guest workers in Saipan. The transcript of the hearing reveals that House Resources Committee Chair Don Young, and members Bob Schaffer and John Doolittle turned the hearing upside down by following the memo's strategy of going after Mr. Stayman and other DOI officials, while ignoring the purpose of the hearing.

Clearly, Schaffer was given the questions to ask the witnesses by members of the Abramoff-Team. He did not question Nousher about the condition of the workers. He questioned him about his participation in a February 1999 rally organized to get the attention of visiting House Resources Committee Chair, Don Young (R-Alaska). Schaffer suggested that DOI officials gave the workers $1,200 for placards, cars and supplies.

Here is a selection of some questions Schaffer asked Nousher (nicknamed Toppen):
Mr. Schaffer. Thank you. Now let me ask, when Chairman Don Young was in Saipan.
Mr. Jahedi. Yes, sir. Mr. Schaffer. As I understand, you were at a rally there?
Mr. Jahedi. Yes, sir, I was. I was with the workers.
Mr. Schaffer. Right. How did you learn about the rally?
Mr. Jahedi. Sorry,
Mr. Schaffer. How did you learn that the rally was going to take place?
Mr. Jahedi. We know that Mr.--I read it from the newspaper that Mr. Don Young and other members of the Committee is going to have a plan to visit the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Island. And, by that time, before Mr. Young came out there----
Mr. Schaffer. Right. Can you tell me about the car you borrowed to drive to that rally? Who did you borrow the car from?
Mr. Jahedi. My friend, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. Your friend? That same friend tells me you accepted $1,200 to help round up other friends for food, gas, and for the vehicle, to help find other Bangladeshis to go to the rally. Is that true?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. Did you receive any money or compensation at all for attending that rally and rounding up friends?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. None at all?
Mr. Jahedi. No.
Mr. Schaffer. Do you know any others who did?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir. I don't know about that.
Mr. Schaffer. On my visit to Saipan just two weeks ago.
Mr. Jahedi. Yes, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. I heard from two separate individuals that you received $1,200 from a Federal official, frankly, to attend that rally. And that you used it to help pay for food and gas and so on. Is that incorrect or is it correct?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir. It's not correct.
Mr. Schaffer. Okay.
Mr. Jahedi. It's not correct.
Mr. Schaffer. Do you know any others who received money to attend that rally from any Federal officials?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. None at all?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. Let me--how about the signs that were used at the rally. Did you make those signs?
Mr. Jahedi. Not only me, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. Now where did they come from?
Mr. Jahedi. Sir, we made the banner, sir, and the placards. The placards, sir?
Mr. Schaffer. The chairman would ask--like me to stop asking questions. Okay. Yes, the signs. The signs you were holding.
Mr. Jahedi. Yes, we hold it. We make it on the boat, you know, the cartons. We use the cartons.
Mr. Schaffer. And where did those materials come from?
Mr. Jahedi. We grab it from the street some and we buy from the Joeten some, though, not all though, everything, only the color:few. Like the six pages that we buy from the Joten. The colored one.
Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Schaffer later continued his questioning, not with relevant questions about Nousher's testimony or knowledge of conditions on the island, but with questions concentrating on whether DOI officials gave Nousher money:
Mr. Schaffer. Now, Toppen, can I ask you a couple more questions? Do you know Jeff Shore?
Mr. Jahedi. Sorry, sir?
Mr. Schaffer. Do you know Jeff Shore?
Mr. Jahedi. Yes, he's working in the Department of Interior Saipan, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. Right. Has Jeff Shore ever given you any amount of money for any reason?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. No. And has Alan Stamen ever given you any amount of money for any reason?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir. No.
Mr. Schaffer. Did Jeff Shore or anyone else ever ask you to help in getting people together for demonstrations or protests?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir.
Mr. Schaffer. No? Did Jeff Shore or anyone else ever ask you for help in getting cars to round up people?
Mr. Jahedi. Excuse me, sir?
Mr. Schaffer. Getting cars to round up Bangladeshis?
Mr. Jahedi. No, sir.
It was not DOI officials who helped to organize or fund the rally that Schaffer quizzed Nousher about. After we returned from the CNMI in 1998, we saw a great need to unify the workers. We had interviewed Filipinos, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Nepalese, Sri Lankan, Indians, Pakastani and other guest workers. All shared similar problems with illegal recruitment, payless paydays, and denial of due process; many were victims of hate crimes and criminal acts. Yet, the groups were isolated by nationality and language. We felt that there was power in numbers and strength in being united, so we proposed the idea for a United Worker Alliance to the leaders of each group we had met. They embraced the idea. We helped initially by connecting them through telephone numbers and addresses, and soon the group was established.

When we learned that Don Young and some others would be visiting Saipan on yet another junket, I sent a letter to the committee chair requesting that he meet with the workers during his visit. I attached a letter from the workers. As always, he did not respond.

We also helped the United Workers Alliance to organize the demonstration. The congressmen who accepted the junkets continually said they saw no abuses or problems. With a demonstration they could not deny seeing or hearing the protesters. It was my husband, myself, Dr. Eddie del Rosario, a human rights advocate located on Guam, and Phil Kaplan, former human rights advocate for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa who funded the protest when Don Young's junket arrived in February 18, 1999. Dr. Eddie even joined the demonstration to support the workers.

I have separated Nousher's testimony from the entire transcript. It detailed his story of his experiences and suffering at the hands of his illegal recruiter both in the Philippines and in the CNMI. Congressman George Miller (D-CA) stopped the ridiculous line of questions, and acknowledged the plight of the guest workers and the conditions in the CNMI.

Schaffer did not ask Nousher about labor and human rights abuses, corruption at the CNMI Department of Labor and Immigration headed by Zachares, or about the numerous other worker concerns. These are all issues that Schaffer and every House Resources Committee member should have known about because I had sent them a copy of a letter from the Bangladeshi guest workers. In that letter the workers spoke of illegal raids on workers' private homes being conducted by Zachares's employees:

"These raids, although characterized in the news as raids of work places employing illegal aliens, are usually raids on homes of workers -not barracks. These raids are not to arrest illegals, but anyone whom the officials decide to arrest, even those with legitimate labor complaints or legitimate employment status."
They also received numerous letters from me including a copy of a letter I wrote to Governor Pedro Tenorio outlining serious concerns of the guest workers including problems with the Department of Labor and Immigration. That letter outlined concerns the guest workers had alerted me to including illegal deportations and arrests, Department of Labor and Immigration refusal to give temporary work authorizations to employees with valid labor cases, Muslims being served pork in the detention center, workers in the Detention center being denied of their due process and constitutional rights, an increase in unprovoked acts of hate crimes and violence, and a deceased Bangladeshi left in the morgue for months.

CNMI Department of Labor and Immigration Director, Mark Zachares , who was indicted for his involvement in the Abramoff scandal, also testified at that 1999 hearing. By then he was already a key member of the A-Team and a skilled truth bender.

A few days after the hearing, Sumon, Nousher's former roommate, called in a panic with news that immigration officials from Zachares's office had been searching for him to question him about Nousher and how he got to Washington, D.C., who paid for his trip etc. In the call he revealed that several guest workers had given Schaffer incorrect information. According to Sumon, one of those people worked at the CNMI Department of Immigration. Was Zachares using his employees to get information for the Republican committee members and congressional leadership?

I sent my concerns about Schaffer calling a witness before a hearing, the hearing itself, and the CNMI immigration officers to a federal official in this email.

It is fitting that out of all of the video footage that I sent to Alex Gibney for the movie, Casino Jack and the United States of Money, a short clip of me (off-camera -I was holding the camera) interviewing Nousher was included. Nousher's story is representative of thousands of foreign workers who were cheated, scammed and disrespected by unscrupulous employers. It speaks to thousands who were harmed by CNMI law and non-enforcement of the law. It compares to thousands of other foreign workers who were hurt by Abramoff, CNMI officials and unethical members of the U.S. Congress.

The story of Nousher shows that there really is such a thing as the American dream. It proves that a someone with just a wish for a bright future can be scammed by an illegal recruiter, cheated by an employer, abused by a system, and belittled by a member of the U.S. Congress and still find a happily-ever after ending. All of that came back to me as I saw the flag at the Supreme Court. My hope is that all of the long-term foreign workers will also get to share the rights that Nousher has been given and they too can become full-fledged members of the American family.

Photos by W. L. Doromal ©2010

Some photos of friends from yesterday:
Lipe and me
Lipe and Nashour
Mozhid (My friend, a former Saipan foreign contract worker who accompanied me to the hearing.)



14 comments:

Itos said...

Wendy, Nousher and FRIENDS Thank you for helping all guest workers here in NMI...WE LOVE YOU...GOD BLESS US ALL and GOD BLESS AMERICA...

Anonymous said...

Wendy said:
"Without these people the CNMI economy will collapse and the entire CNMI will revert back to the pre-boom Marianas and a subsistence economy."
Well, the above statement seems to reflect that if contract workers are given green cards the economy will collapse. This is if enough of them move to Mainland. I am sure that you don't want the economy to collapse, so here goes.
Give everyone here now improved status even if they have been here for a day. Make it a "CNMI only Green Card" which means they cannot use it to go to the States, but can stay in the NMI as long as they want. Take away the contracts and let them compete for jobs with the locals with none of the bells and whistles (Insurance, housing, utilities, transportation) that the locals don't get unless it is made available to other employees. Make it equal. Let them apply for green cards like everyone else.
They could not have voting rights, but this is not unusual. As a US citizen, if I moved to Italy and lived and worked there for 20 years they are not going to give me any improved status or let me vote.
The above sentence actually makes a good point. If I am recruited for a job in Italy, after five years do I deserve to have improved status? Why? Do other major countires do this? There are a lot of Filipinos is Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. Do they give them improved status after five years? Oh, I forgot, it is just because America is so... how do you say it, fair and just and wants to do the right thing. Yeah, we'll see

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:06

No that is NOT what the statement means. The statement means that the unskilled workers will LEAVE after 2014 if they are not given green cards. It's very odd that everyone thinks that the workers will leave if they are given green cards. They have jobs, family and friends, and roots in the CNMI. A CNMI-only status is UN-AMERICAN to the max and does not reflect the principles of our nation. It is not fair to chain people to an island so that the CNMI can have an underpaid, abused and disenfranchised workforce to exert power over. If these long-term workers had been living and working in the US for 5 years they would have already had a green card!

You said, "They could not have voting rights but this is not unusual." The United States already abolished slavery. The CNMI system is one step below slavery. The US gave voting rights to women. Did we learn any lessons? Is the United States going to take a huge step backward? Who really cares what Italy does? This is U.S. soil. One consistent immigration law. This is NOT Hong Kong or Saudi Arabia. IT IS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

What's next? If a government chops off hands for stealing in a country, we should adopt that practice? If another government stones people in , we should adopt that practice? We need to move forward, not backward.

Anonymous said...

well anon above, we are talking about USA, the land of the free, the land of milk & honey. we are not talking about the middle east and europe.

your suggestion of Greencard for CNMI only is not a bad idea for some. wish u have the same deal, CNMI only too, you cant buy land in mainland, you cant travel there without US Visa, you cant work there either and that my friend is FAIR. you are not giving the aliens the US Citizenship, it will be up to US Congress, not CNMI congress. you are so selffish!

better yet, send all contract workers home, all aliens including the spouses of locals too at one time, most possibly, a week will do, a non stop flight, sendin all aliens home. let's see what's going to happen!

sign up a petition, ask US congress or your congress to pass a new law, do your referendum as suggested by your liar guv if you can, send all those aliens home.

see how the phone companies will react! see how insurance companies die, see how supermarkets close, see the restaurants close. see how the patients die in the hospital. pray that you wont get sick and pray that you wont be needing the hospital or medical services in the Philippines or Thailand or any other asian countries. come on, you do it. organize your own rally, pass a new law phasing out all aliens. as you always say, this is your LAND.

your ignorance and selfishness is already sickening.

Anonymous said...

oops, i forgot something. there's one exemption about the aliens all going home.

except the first lady josie fitial, you can have here. we dont want to see her in the Philippines.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:06

No that is NOT what the statement means. The statement means that the unskilled workers will LEAVE after 2014 if they are not given green cards. It's very odd that everyone thinks that the workers will leave if they are given green cards. They have jobs, family and friends, and roots in the CNMI. A CNMI-only status is UN-AMERICAN to the max and does not reflect the principles of our nation. It is not fair to chain people to an island so that the CNMI can have an underpaid, abused and disenfranchised workforce to exert power over. If these long-term workers had been living and working in the US for 5 years they would have already had a green card!

You said, "They could not have voting rights but this is not unusual." The United States already abolished slavery. The CNMI system is one step below slavery. The US gave voting rights to women. Did we learn any lessons? Is the United States going to take a huge step backward? Who really cares what Italy does? This is U.S. soil. One consistent immigration law. This is NOT Hong Kong or Saudi Arabia. IT IS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

What's next? If a government chops off hands for stealing in a country, we should adopt that practice? If another government stones people in , we should adopt that practice? We need to move forward, not backward.

Anonymous said...

They don't really want to send everyone home. They want the workers here and remaining under their control. This "referendum" nonsense is just a delay tactic. A referendum would only for recommendations anyways, the US Congress will determine what happens in the end. Many in the CNMI have no qualm about asking, asking, asking and taking, taking, taking, but are so racist and power-hungry, they will give nothing to help their fellow man. What a sad state of affairs. This story ran in the same paper with the "we need 9 million more for foodstamps Uncle Sam".

Anonymous said...

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

they also want the young girls. many locals and mainlanders have 'benefited' from the slave dancers and karoke bars....

Anonymous said...

Wendy said:
The United States already abolished slavery. The CNMI system is one step below slavery. The US gave voting rights to women. Did we learn any lessons? Is the United States going to take a huge step backward? Who really cares what Italy does? This is U.S. soil. One consistent immigration law. This is NOT Hong Kong or Saudi Arabia. IT IS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Why do associate not giving status to contract workers taking a huge step backwards? Not doing anything would not be a step forward or backwards, which seems to be the status quo of the US for decades. Do you really think that workers here are going to get status before the situation is ironed out in the States? The political downside far outweighs the good it might do. For example, if they gave green card status here the anti-immigrant folks would go nuts. Also,your idea of a "only the unskilled labor would leave the island to the USA" Yeah, that's what we need, more unskilled labor in the USA. Might want to leave that one off the list.

Anonymous said...

Bottom line is "If a Contract Worker wants to get a Green Card or U.S. Citizenship, they need to go through the same process as anyone else. It is a lengthy and costly process as there is a lot of work and time involved certifying the applicant is who he/she says they are. This is not about slavery, abuses, number of yearly contracts you have had, it is all about getting something free and fast. If you would have applied when all this whining started a few years ago, you would already have what you are begging for now. I as a U.S. Citizen and not indigenous, fully support the indigenous People being given a special status (Like Native Indians) to protect their homeland from hostile takeover.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 4:41 Bottom line is that you do not know the history of the CNMI. The indigenous people voted overwhelmingly to become one with the U.S. and to be under federal law. That is the bottom line. No one is whining, no one is begging. The long-term guest workers are qualified to have U.S, status having lived and worked legally on U.S. soil for 5 years or more. Fast and free? There is nothing fast and FREE about living and working in a place for years or decades and being cheated, being denied justice and being treated as a disenfranchised underclass. Nothing at all.

There is no hostile takeover. What are you smoking? Stop the spin. No one who is going to decide (members of the U.S. Congress) is stupid enough to buy your garbage.

Studies Needed said...

Also, this is incorrect: "If you would have applied when all this whining started a few years ago, you would already have what you are begging for now."

Under CNMI immigration law, they were not eligible to apply for U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence. It is only now with federalization that this possibility emerges.

Personally, I think five years is too generous, given that the foreign national workers arrived here under non-immigrant status conditions. People in the U.S. who come in under non-immigrant visas do not get status on that basis no matter how long they stay.

I would be in favor of status for those here 12 years, 15 years, or 18 years, depending on the numbers of workers in those categories (currently hidden and suppressed by Interior) and a GAO analysis of what that would do to the economy and employment prospects of the indigenous inhabitants.

Biba Kilili!

Anonymous said...

Wendy said:
"The long-term guest workers are qualified to have U.S, status having lived and worked legally on U.S. soil for 5 years or more".
Truly, excuse my ignorance, but is there a law or regulation that "qualifies" people for US status at five years? Maybe there is, I am not sure. If there is, then maybe you have a good reason. If not, maybe the words "deserve" should be used in place of "are qualified".