Flawed "Exit Survey"

September 1, 2010

The CNMI Legislature is voting on a bill that would mandate the CNMI Elections Commission to "conduct an exit poll on the DOI's Report for improved status for foreign workers." Not surprisingly the question starts off with an outright lie!

From the Saipan Tribune:
The bill requires the exit poll to state the following: “Without consulting the governor as required by PL 110-229, the April 2010 Report on the Alien Worker Population in the CNMI by the Department of the Interior, recommended the following: '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 of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States.'”

It then asks: “Do you agree with this recommendation that the U.S. Congress consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum of five years to apply for long-term status such as United States citizenship, permanent resident status, and freely associated state nonimmigrant status? ____ Yes. ____ No.”

The bill will be acted on in today's House session. The Senate is also expected to vote on the bill shortly.
Who starts a poll with a lie? Amazing! Still pushing the big, fat lie that the DOI did not consult with the governor! From a previous post, The Lie:
It ridiculous that the governor and others are claiming that they were never consulted on the report. First, the DOI was charged to write the report, not the CNMI government. It was never intended to be a joint recommendation.
Secondly, there were numerous hearings, meetings, testimony, correspondence and other opportunities to express opinions on status for long-term workers. The following is a list of only some of the meetings that U.S. officials held with the governor, key CNMI officials or his "lobbyists-spokespersons" (emphasis added):
  • January 2009: Fitial announced that Lynn Knight would take a six month leave to represent the Office of the Governor in Washington on federalization issues:

    In a letter written by Fitial appointing Knight, the governor said she would work in cooperation with Howard Willens, the governor's special legal counsel. Fitial has instructed her to keep CNMI Rep. Gregorio “Kilili” Sablan and the CNMI Legislature's Federalization Task Force up to date on the issues.

    The new position will take effect Feb. 1. Knight, who will make a trip to the CNMI in April for an economic summit, said she will soon create a Web site where the public can access information and documents on the issues and work she does.
  • May 2009: Fitial testified at the House Hearing in Washington, DC. Part of his testimony addressed the question of status for long-term foreign workers and the DOI report!
  • August 2009: Visit to Saipan by Congressman Nick Rahall III (D-VA), Chair of the House Resources Committee, Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU), Rep. Donna Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), Rep. Henry Brown (R-SC), and American Samoa Rep. Eni Faleomavaega. From the Saipan Tribune:

    U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chair Rep. Nick Rahall II (D-WV) and the rest of the congressional delegation left Saipan yesterday with an assurance that the concerns raised by CNMI leaders and community members on federalization “will be taken into consideration,” including those of the visa waiver program and immigration status for foreign workers.
  • August 2009 Allan Stayman, Isaac Edwards, staffers from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and two U.S. Department of the Interior legislative liaisons met with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos and Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan. They also met with the Saipan Chamber of Commerce. The Tribune reported:

    Press secretary Charles Reyes said Fitial welcomes all federal policy makers and their staff to the CNMI and appreciates the opportunity to provide important feedback regarding the Commonwealth's current situation, real needs, and the impact that federal policies have on the islands.

    “The essential message the governor has always conveyed to federal policy makers and their staff is this: The CNMI is facing unprecedented economic challenges and we need the federal government's financial and regulatory support to help our islands survive and recover from this major financial downturn,” Reyes said.
  • January 2010 U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Tony Babauta, Office of Insular Affairs Director Nik Pula, and Congressman Gregorio Sablan met with Governor Fitial. Guest workers asked for a meeting with Mr. Babauta to urge that he recommend green cards. From the Saipan Tribune:

    “I hope to be a part of that and I hope to have a very good working relationship with the governor. We may not always agree on certain issues and how matters will be resolved but I think between the two of us, we agree we can always talk to each other and try to find some middle ground on how to move forward,” Babauta said.

    Fitial said he believes in communication. “And effective communication involves emphatic listening. So I will be very emphatic when I listen to you talk,” he added.
    Apparently the governor failed to communicate.

    The Saipan Tribune reported in January 2010: "Babauta said the Ombudsman's Office's numbers will be used in the Interior's report to the U.S. Congress." I guess all of the CNMI officials missed that issue of the Saipan Tribune.

    Mr. Babauta also meet with Senator Paul Manglona on Rota during his January 2010 visit to the CNMI. So why didn't he discuss his feelings on the pending DOI Report during this opportune time? Senator Manglona (R-Rota) supported Resolution 17-4 and will be testifying at the hearing on Tuesday. Manglona was quoted by the Saipan Tribune as supporting the lie:
Senate President Paul A. Manglona (R-Rota) said the Senate joins the House in asking Congress to “direct” the Interior to “consult” with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial, as mandated by Public Law 110-229 or the federalization law.

Manglona, who is a member of Fitial's working group on the Interior report, said the Senate also joins the House in asking Congress to “direct” the Interior to “collaborate” with the CNMI governor “in preparing and submitting to Congress a report that includes the Commonwealth government's position and recommendations as to the future status of the alien worker population” in the CNMI
  • February 2010 Governor Fitial was in Washington, DC for the Governor's Connference and for meetings with officials. He reported that he met with Vice-President Biden and others. From the Tribune:

    Fitial, along with Commerce Secretary Michael Ada, attended the NGA meeting events and met with various federal agencies, including the US Department of Labor, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Office of Insular Affairs.
  • March 2010 Assistant Department of Interior Secretary Tony Babauta visits Saipan again. This time there were headlines in the media about the DOI report that Fitial claims he had no input on. From the Saipan Tribune:

    Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta said yesterday that the Office of Insular Affairs is nearing completion of its report to the U.S. Congress about the immigration status of foreign workers in the CNMI, as the May 10, 2010 deadline draws nears.

    “We have consulted with the governor and the Department of Homeland Security on our report. Having accomplished that, our report now is being reviewed by the administration,” Babauta told Saipan Tribune in an interview at the Saipan Southern High School in Koblerville yesterday morning.

    Babauta could not say at this time what status OIA is recommending to the U.S. Congress.

    “It would be too early for me to say what the recommendations will be without having it cleared by the administration,” he added.

    This was discussed during Babauta's meeting with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial on Capital Hill yesterday.

    “I informed the governor that we're very near to completing our report, in submitting recommendations to Congress. .Right now, it's going through the process in.the administration side. Once that process is completed, then we will send it to Congress,” said Babauta.

    ...Babauta said he has consulted with Fitial on some of the aspects of the report and is aware of some of Fitial's public statements on the issue. He said he has also listened to guest workers, the business community and other sectors of the community.
    Nonresident worker groups and their supporters have been asking for lawful permanent resident status or “green cards” for long-time foreign workers and others with relatives who are U.S. or Freely Associated States citizens in the CNMI.
    In December, Fitial and Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos said in a news briefing that the Fitial administration won't oppose the federal government if it decided to grant “green cards” to nonresident workers in the CNMI.
    Fitial reiterated, though, that CNMI Public Law 3-66, which he authored when he was a member of the 3rd Legislature, allows foreign workers to come here as a “privilege” only-if and when resident workers are not available.
    “There's nothing in that law that would even suggest that nonresident workers should be granted preferred immigration status,” the governor had said.
    But Babauta said yesterday: “I think the governor has made a couple of recommendations, not knowing what the recommendations of the Department of the Interior will be.”
It is a lie that the federal government did not consult the CNMI and that the governor did not have opportunities to express his views on this matter. The deadline is stated in the law, and the governor knew the deadline. There were 732 days for the administration to address the issue of the report, express their views, and suggest recommendations. There were numerous face-to-face opportunities for CNMI officials to discuss this issue. Additionally, every person with an opinion had the opportunity to create their own report, testimony, or correspondence.

The foreign workers and advocates circulated petitions, sponsored letter writing campaigns, conducted outreach in Washington through my trips, and outreach in the CNMI through the Codel and Mr. Babauta's visits. Our position is clear. We started working on our campaign for status the day after the bill was signed. Two years is a long time. Stop the lie!
Several commenters on this site very astutely pointed out that this poll is really a push poll. In fact it is. The Source Watch definition of a push poll:
A push poll is where, using the guise of opinion polling, disinformation about a candidate or issue is planted in the minds of those being 'surveyed'. Push-polls are designed to shape, rather than measure, public opinion.
How do these CNMI legislators think that the federal officials will receive the results of this poll?  It will not be taken seriously. It will give people in Washington, DC yet another laugh at the expense of CNMI politicians. What a complete waste of resources and time.


Anonymous said...

The chronology of the history of contacts between the feds and CNMI concerning alien status assumes that is equivalent to consultation about the Status Recommendation Report.

The indisputable truth is that the CNMI never saw that report prior to its submission to Congress. Rather than a "big lie," this is the unvarnished truth.

Efforts to characterize generic policy debates concerning alien status as tantamount to consultation, input, and review of the proposed report is the actual attempted "big lie".

There can be no valid consultation about a draft report without seeing its contents. Interior violated the CNMI's due process big time.

Wendy said...

Do NOT add to the lie! The law did not require anyone to see or approve the report, but to consult on issues. There were documented meetings and consultation (READ THE POST.)

There was a full 2 years time for the CNMI governor and legislators to make a move, set up a meeting or take initiative. Stop the jive -no one buys it except other people trying to make excuses, and other liars.

Anonymous said...

seems like the same on the "food stamp" program.(increased benefits for Rota and Tinian) They (Feds) are still awaiting a reply from the Gov. after repeated requests.

Anonymous said...

Noni 8:25: "There can be no valid consultation about a draft report without seeing its contents. Interior violated the CNMI's due process big time."

Due process? HAHAHAHAH! The law didn't call for a review or book report. It called for consultation.

Anonymous said...

Consultation is a statutory term of art. Babauta could literally call Fitial and say " hey, I'm submitting my report now," and that would satisfy a consultation requirement.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:36

And Fitial or any legislator could have contacted Tony and said, "We would like to meet and consult on the recommendations." They could have had a half day or full day meeting. In fact, from reading the press coverage quoted in the post, it is apparent that meetings and consultation took place in both DC and the CNMI.

Anonymous said...

Without consulting the governor as required by PL 110-229, the April 2010 Report on the Alien Worker Population in the CNMI by the Department of the Interior, recommended the following: . . . .”

So is this “big lie” (or legal error, or arguably correct layman's summary) in the preamble to the “exit poll” enough to get an injunction in federal court?

It is certainly the lynchpin of any potential lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

If they really want to maximize the chance of the plebiscite or advisory vote on alien status being taken seriously by Congress and going forward in the face of any legal challenge, they would remove the contentious introductory clause.

I wonder what advice the legislative counsel, Attorney General, and counsel to the Commonwealth Election Commission would give, will give, or have given?

If they can't figure it out, maybe they should consult someone with experience in such matters (not Howard Penney Willens).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the proponents of the non-consultation clause have no intention of being reasonable and intend to provoke a lawsuit.

Wendy said...

It's asinine to think any federal official would even consider this poll.

It is not the people who decide who will be granted US citizenship. Were the US citizens consulted when the US decided to grant citizenship to the indigenous people of the CNMI?! No! It is the US Congress who decides.

These foreign workers are not aliens who entered the CNMI illegally. They were recruited because they were needed, and they were renewed over and over and over because their skills are essential.

Be careful CNMI leaders. Continue on your racist path to keep the foreigners permanently disenfranchised, and many of them will gather their dignity and skills to go to live and work in countries where they are truly wanted, respected, and will be given the opportunity to become citizens of the country in which they work and live. The CNMI government's reputation as being racist and unfair is well earned and well deserved.

After the workers who have been insulted and cheated for decades leave, the CNMI may not be able to recruit others to replace them. There are too many better choices (as far as treatment, wages and future citizenship) for foreign workers, especially those with skills.

The CNMI government's agenda to permanently disenfranchise foreign workers is in violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and runs counter to the ideals of the U.S. and every person who has a moral compass.

BOTW said...

Noni 8:25, 9:36,
“The Secretary of Interior In consultation with Sec of Homeland Security, and the Gov of the Commonwealth shall report to the Congress…”

It did not say “in agreement” with… Recommendations were arrived at as a result of consultations. Even In the business world, Consultants provide their insight, but they are just that - “Consultants”.

The letters of the law is very clear. Why do you people keep on twisting and spinning facts? My English, your English? Okay, me buy new dictionary.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I like your post on September 2, 2010 3:44 PM; else businesses will close if they can't recruit anymore beyond 11/2011. Maybe Fitial is thinking that remaining unemployed/excess local workers will fill these positions when aliens are gone? yes there are some but how about professional positions? are there any available and qualified? I rather close my business than paying an employee who knew nothing... else my business will be like CUC, headache...
We are always have a big big place anywhere in the world because we are needed and knows what we do. We are not their competitor, we are their partner. They don't understand.

Anonymous said...

An informal exit poll is a joke. The issue should be decided by the CNMI people in a binding referendum on the real ballot.

The Saipan Blogger said...

The issue will be decided by the United States Congress, and ultimately President Obama (if Congress manages to pass a bill before 2016). The delegate we elect in November will play a very large roll in the eventual outcome.