CNMI Senate Hearings on Status

June 24, 2010

The CNMI Senate hearings on status are apparently intended to solicit opinions from residents on what status the United States should grant to long term workers in the CNMI. The Saipan Tribune reported:

Foreign workers in the CNMI should only be given an immigration status similar to that negotiated for citizens of Freely Associated States, said those who attended Wednesday night's public hearing on the status of nonresident workers in the CNMI.

But they are also split on whether such FAS-like status should allow these alien workers to live and work only in the CNMI, or they could also live and work in Guam and other U.S. states and territories.

Senate Vice President Jude U. Hofschneider (R-Tinian), chair of the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies, which held the public hearing, said that while granting an FAS-like status seemed to be the sentiment of many of those who testified on Wednesday night, this does not mean that it is shared by many others in the community.

“This is only the first of seven public hearings. We hope to hear more from the public,” he said.

Hofschneider said the Senate would also like to hear directly from nonresident workers and their families during the next six public hearings on Saipan, Tinian and Rota.
The foreign workers made it clear what their position is in over 7,000 signatures that called for green cards and a pathway to citizenship; in the recent rally attended by over 5,000, which called for a direct pathway to citizenship; and in hundreds of letters sent to members of the U.S. Congress requesting green cards and citizenship.  Still, it is was generous of the Senator to extend the invitation to the foreign workers, and I encourage them to also attend every hearing to make their position known and so it can be recorded for the record. After all, the nonresidents probably make up at least half, if not more, of the adult population of the CNMI and over 70% of the private workforce.

Since PL 100-299 stated that a main objective of the bill was to bring CNMI immigration law into conformity with U.S. law, any status should be the same as the status given to a foreign worker in the mainland for the same amount of years working and residing in the United States.  That is obviously why the DOI Report stated:
Consistent with the goals of comprehensive immigration reform, we recommend that the Congress consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum period of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States.
Of course, this is the recommendation that Congress must follow.

Any FAS-type status proposal is un-American and un-Democratic.  I seriously doubt that the United States Congress would support status that denies basic social and political rights of legal foreigners who have lived and worked in the CNMI for 5 years or more, and some for decades.  Such a status goes against the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.  Any status that denies the right to serve on a jury or to vote should not even be considered. Such status perpetuates an un-democratic and two-tiered system and will only allow abuses to continue.

It is disappointing that after all of these years, CNMI leaders and some of the residents still do not want to see the foreign workers as equals and insist that they remain a disenfranchised underclass there just do work and do their bidding.

It may be arrogant of the CNMI leaders to not consider that the long term foreign workers may just reject FAS-type status or any status proposals that allow for continued disenfranchisement and leave the islands for places where they can work and be offered a direct pathway to citizenship.  Systems that allow for an underclass, a two-tiered society, disenfranchisement, unequal rights, restricted travel, denial of political and social rights must be rejected.

What message do people that support such a backward status send? The message is that they want to retain the broken system and allow the CNMI government to keep the workers under their thumb as voiceless commodities there to serve them through their labor. That way of thinking is un-American.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The message is certainly that there is a fear of the non-resident workers. The fear, as expressed, is that if given citizenship they would overrun the local populace and take control of elected positions. Let's pretend that happened.

Did anyone watch Invictus and the line quoted from Mandela on what would happen if there becomes the politics of retribution or disenfranchisement?

What about the situation on Guam? Guam has never had a voice as to immigration issues. H-1 and other visas are issued and many folks become citizens. Yet you don't have the dramatic change based on ethnicity, in the political leadership (as if that mattered). Why not? Because those who hold the money remain in power and have the access to power. For the disenfranchised, they only have the right to vote and that can be encouraged with the right resources.

The original immigration control by the CNMI was intended to be an "excluding" system to prevent the local population from being disenfranchised. This is an absolute uncontroverted fact. But the CNMI policymakers blew the doors wide open with the Foreign Investment Act by Ben Fitial and Teno, opening the floodgates. Now that they are here and have been here for decades, we have to "deal" with them.

What is absolutely un-American is that the argument for unequal rights is the very reason for rights at all-- denial of access to opportunities. We want to send them home? No, the voices say we need them. But not give them privileges, keep them like FAS residents.

Eventually this kind of thinking will have to give way to the policy of the free market and equal opportunity for all. For now the debate rages, but the arguments continue to fail to persuade and so we are at an impasse. The question is how do we persuade the local population to agree? When that is done is when the pathway to citizenship will be unobstructed.

Anonymous said...

The foreign contract workers in the CNMI are not the same as people immigrating to the United States. Long term foreign workers who hold valid work visas or legal student visas go through a long process for citizenship. CNMI foreign contract workers are just that, contract workers. This is a unique situation in which Federal Law clearly states that all guest workers will need to be brought to zero by a certain date. There is no such law for the valid workers in the United States.
For example, there are naturalized American Citizens of Pakistani origin who have known ties to terrorism. Because a Federal background check is nearly impossible and enormously expensive, any immediate citizenship or green cards for these workers in the CNMI should be considered a dereliction of duty and a threat to US security. This includes the Filipinos who have ties to Abu Sayaf, Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF),NPA, NPA and a dozen other terrorist groups. The Federal Government cannot screen them all. The Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in the CNMI have never lived in the US. They are from countries with known ties to Al Q, PLO, Lashkar-e-Omar, Jamait-ul-Mujahideen and twenty five others. They cannot all be screened in the CNMI.
The DHS needs to look very carefully at each and every foreigner. This will be a very long and expensive process which probably won't be supported by the people of the United States or the US Congress.

Anonymous said...

Exactly. Congress wanted them to go home by 2014.

That is what will happen absent further legislation or an extension of the expensive, yet-to-be-implemented CW visa system.

Anonymous said...

The Filipino and Pakistani workers came to Saipan to inflict mass terror on the United States? Are you serious, bro? How much Fox News do you watch?

Anonymous said...

What do they want? voters who elected these present leaders? come on if these long-term workers can vote they are wiser than the present voters.

Anonymous said...

4:11 ]The federal government wrote the law to bring the guest workers to zero to give the US Congress time to give them status so that scenario would not happen. But hey, if the CNMI government pushes back enough maybe they will end up without any of the needed workers. You can watch the OCWs leave as the islands become underpopulated and unable to recover from the lowest economic doom that could happen. As for your bullshit terrorist accusations maybe you need to be screened for mental instability. Someone should look carefully at you!

Anonymous said...

"4:11 ]The federal government wrote the law to bring the guest workers to zero to give the US Congress time to give them status so that scenario would not happen."

Where on Earth do you get your info from? Why would the US Congress write a law to bring guest workers to zero so they can give them better status in the mean time? Why not just give them better status right away? LOL!

Wendy said...

In 2000, a bill that would have given foreign workers status passed anonymously in the Senate. Abramoff and the CNMI had Delay successfully block it in the House. The latest bill that eventually became PL 110-229 had a grandfathering provision that the CNMI successfully had lobbied out. The US Congress will ultimately grant status to the long-term foreign workers and hopefully other long-term nonresidents such as CNMI permanent residents and FAS immediate relatives. I am certain it will happen before 2014. Why perpetuate the broken system? It's not worth the financial expense or the human cost.

Anonymous said...

An even better way to avoid the financial expense or the human cost is to send the guest workers home, as Congress provided!

There are certainly a lot more jobs in China, the Philippines, and even Bangladesh than in the CNMI, with much better local support systems there.

Guest workers would be well advised to go home before they are removed.

Captain said...

What many seem to miss of forgot. Under the law, a sitting NMI Gov. can request extensions for the workers to remain in the NMI in 5 year increments, with no limit to the amount of extensions, as long as there is a need for the workers.

Anonymous said...

The governor MAY request, but that does not mean that the extension will be granted.

RED OCTOBER said...

anon 4;11
You are a desperate pinhead,keep on ghost dreaming.

Anonymous said...

99% of CNMI's US citizens have no clue what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Those who voted for citizenship didn't do so because of their overwhelming love for America's freedom and justice. They voted for Commonwealth for money and handouts. This is the honest truth.

Captain said...

Anon 2:48 You are correct on most of your statements.

Guam has many elected that are not indigenous, but still, for the most have the same recycled corrupted misfits in office.
Guam, unlike the CNMI does not have almost all of it's local workforce dependent on the Govt. sector for jobs.

Guam population is high compared to the NMI so an influx of 20k "new voters" would not make much of a different, unlike here. Even when the Guam military build up is complete, those who will vote in the local elections will not have a dramatic effect on any outcome.
Thus Guam politicians have less control over the voters as in the NMI where they threaten the family and employees with their jobs.

The private sector wages in Guam are equivalent, if not higher in some areas, as the Govt. employee wages.(unlike NMI where the private sector wages continue to be suppressed by more than half in most cases)
Many of the Guam public utilities have/are being privatized.
Jobs on Military installations are AWD and are the highest of both employment sectors.

These "hearings" on the CW status are attended by only a few "locals" and are a far cry from what the true thought is here about the proposed status on these CW workers.
You have a few politicians that are trying to "steer" the sentiment towards their own self serving goals as these elected and "connected" people are so scared that if given
"status" these CW will vote them out of office and start some competing business with lower prices..(not much unlike Hawaii in the early years)

The US Govt. and the US people do not care about what any "local" sentiment is concerning the status of the CW, the congress will make it's own decision in due time and won't be influenced by a few people being led by the uneducated misfits (and ex-convicts)in a political party here.
Of the US people that know where the CNMI is and anything about it, is only because of the past deeds of this "clown" we have for a Gov.
The many I have been in contact with think this place is a big joke and wonder if any of these elected (or the people that elected them) ever had even a grade school education. They think that a "Banana Republic" is further advanced than the CNMI.
This is not a place that they would want to come to from what they read on line and occasionally hear in the International news.

Anonymous said...

I really don't understand why these locals don't want to share the benefits of being US citizens. Workers already did their part for serving CNMI for decades. We are after for US citizenship not Chamorro citizenship! We will not invade your stupid nonsense government.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Anon June 26, 2010 4:22 PM

Anonymous said...

4:22

my sentiments alright!

Anonymous said...

The US will not act on this anytime soon, if ever, no matter what we think or want.

Anonymous said...

a government not made up of 100% locals could be not worse than what is here now. lets take that chance!

Anonymous said...

If U.S. Citizenship is that important to you as a contract worker, why did you not apply in accordance with established procedures. Those that say they have been here for over a decade have had plenty of time to decide they wanted citizenship and pursue it. Now you want it given freely. Many have milked the island for years, sending almost all income out of country. There are so many illegal business, roadside stands, taxi's, and under the table workers that it is destroying the economy. No taxes are being paid, most money is being sent off island still, no deportations of those with illegal status (which of course hurts every cw that has legal status) etc. If you really wanted U.S. Citizenship, then every foreign worker would be reporting illegals to Immigration. It is, or would be your duty and obligation as either a U.S. citizen or applicant to be. I don't recall seeing this happening anywhere on the islands. It would go along ways with the locals and the U.S. to see a purging of illegals and illegal businesses by Contract Workers. How can we or the U.S. Government consider giving improved status when those requesting it have no regard for current Immigration Laws and Regulations.

Anonymous said...

I just don't know that reporting an illegal aliens will qualify you to be a US citizen, if I've known this in the first place I already reported one 20+ years ago, LOL.

Anonymous said...

9:55 Get some education and get some facts!

BOTW said...

anon june 28 9:55,
you seem to be very much aware of the existence of illegal aliens and their illegal activities. as a responsible u.s. citizen why don't you report them, why depend on cws to do it for you?

it is you who "have no regard for current Immigration Laws and Regulations". you keep on coming up with labor laws and regulations that is in defiance of what the u.s. congress has already addressed through p.l. 110-229.

you allege that illegal activities of aliens destroy the economy when it is you who does it big time because you continue to cause uncertainties that affects business decisions and consumer confidence.

Anonymous said...

9:55 a.m.anon,

Legal procedures...ofcourse, we would like to follow that, if it is already available. As known to all of us (except to you), it is not available yet. We are still waiting fo US Congress to pass the law allowing LEGAL ALIENS to apply for any IMPROVED STATUS it will give us. In addition, it will not be given freely as we all know (except your ignorance of the law), because there are fees to be paid, not FREE. I'm wondering why anti aliens are clamoring that we want it free.

Now for the milking... as what anon 8:34 pm said, get your facts straight and get some education. It has been posted years and years, over and over again (REDUNDANT) that we aliens pay our taxes. We buy food, other basic commodities, pay power, insurance, pay rent, pay cable, pay phone, pay remittance fee, bills, etc. and that for your information generates BUSINESS GROSS REVENUE, creating BUSINESS GROSS REVENUE TAX FOR THE CNMI.

As for the illegal vendors...who are sponsoring them? Illegal aliens or contract workers can not sponsor them, guess who?

Lastly, you are not the one giving US Citizenship, it will be the US Government. We don't want Chamorro Citizenship (as somebody had said earlier), so rest assured that we will not take it away from you. Duh!!!!!!!!