Assistant Secretary Babauta Clarifies Federal Authority

September 25, 2010

DOI Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs confirmed what many of us have been saying for months - alien registration is a federal function and not within the scope of power of the CNMI or a territorial government.   His remarks were made in a letter to the Saipan Chamber of Commerce in response to questions the organization posed to him.

Perhaps the Fitial administration will back off and accept that the CNMI no longer has authority over matters concerning foreign workers and immigration.

The assistant secretary stated that the U.S. Department of Interior has concerns over the new CNMI labor law, P.L. 17-1 and accompanying regulations.  Of course they do because it is an unconstitutional law and some provisions are preempted by federal law.

The Saipan Tribune article stated that Deputy Secretary of the CNMI Department of Labor, Cinta Kaipat disagrees with the "central aspects of the Assistant Secretary's letter. " What federal view does this woman ever agree with?  She can disagree all she wants, but it will not change the reality that the CNMI DOL needs to back off or find itself in a court battle that they cannot afford.

There is no reason for any foreign worker or alien to trek to DOL to "register" with that local agency. It is a waste of time and money, and God only knows what motive the department has for tracking each foreigner.

Some points made by Assistant Secretary Babauta:
  • “The federal government does not require employers seeking to hire employees after the transition program effective date to comply with the immigration-related provisions of Public Law 17-1, its implementing regulations, or any other CNMI law regulating immigration.” 
  • Babauta said unlike H-1B and other employer-specific nonimmigrant under the INA, who cannot accept any employment unless they are the beneficiary of an employer's petition for that specific employment, umbrella permit holders have “open market” work authorization until Nov. 27, 2011. “This means that they may accept any lawful employment offered to them by any CNMI employer.” 
  •  “The federal government does not endorse any provision of Public Law 17-1 or its implementing regulations, and is not in a position to make any representation that a CNMI employer or any other person would, by complying with them, establish any defense against any violation of federal civil rights laws or other applicable laws, to the extent they might apply.” 
In his letter, Mr. Babauta said that he consulted with the U.S . Departments of Justice and Homeland Security to confirm his responses because the Chamber's questions related to laws that are administered by these two federal agencies.

Why are any foreign workers registering at DOL? Apparently DOL has told their employers that their business licenses will not be renewed if they do no demand that their employees register.  Additional threats have been reported and the U.S. Departments of Labor, State, Justice Homeland Security and Interior have been notified and asked to take action.


Anonymous said...

Tony Babauta can write all the letters about immigration he wants to, even though these subjects are within the lawful purview of the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Labor, State, and Justice.

He can “consult” with them all he wants, too.

Until DHS overcomes almost 29 months of inertia and writes the regulations mandated by the CNRA (signed into law May 8, 2008), Tony's “opinion letters” are not worth the paper they're printed on.

The feds well know this (as do local businesses), which is why “complaints” to any of those agencies are not acted on.

Once those regulations become effective, it will be a different story.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they write and issue regs and the judge told them they needed a comment period so they began agin?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Bentot's lawsuit turned out really good, didn't it?