Prayer Vigil

November 10, 2010

Congratulations to the foreign workers and the United Workers Movement-NMI for organizing the successful Prayer Vigil! The advocates and worker leaders of thank all of the individuals and religious, worker and ethnic groups who assisted and supported this event.

We know that it was a success because the aim was to keep the issue of the status of the foreign workers in the spotlight and on the agenda in Washington, DC. On KSPN2 News, U.S. Department of Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Tony Babauta said that the officials in Washington got the message. He also praised the workers for being organized and united. Tony Babauta said in his KSPN2 interview:
 “I think for a long time Washington has paid attention to the issues that the foreign guest workers have had… 
They are very well organized. I think they communicate their messages well and I congratulate them on doing it."
Regarding November 11, 2011 when the umbrella permits are set to expire, Assistant Secretary Babauta said, “Personally, I do not think November 2011 is doomsday. I would like to think that we will do all that we can for the CNMI economy to make sure that there is continuity. Part of that is the presence of guest workers.”

Signing petition at Prayer Vigil

Organizers were able to collect over 600 written signatures for the petition drive in addition to 625 signatures on the online petition. Written signatures being collected on Saipan, Rota and Tinian. The petition drive ends on December 9, 2010.


Message to the guest workers from the Prayer Vigil:

Dear Friends:

Thank you for coming to the Prayer Vigil. We all know that it takes persistence, passion and determination to keep the cause of the guest workers in the spotlight, especially because the CNMI is so far from Washington DC. When people gather in Saipan, Rota and Tinian to show solidarity for their cause, the policy makers in Washington get the message. They will get your message this evening!

Among the very few rights that the CNMI disenfranchised foreign workers have are the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom to assemble. I urge all of the alien workers to ignore any criticism and to continue to exercise your constitutional rights. Speak up always and gather together often to support each other and give each other strength to move the cause forward.

I want to share with you some words from President Obama's recent speech that he gave at the University of Minnesota. He could have been addressing you - the CNMI guest workers. He said: "Don’t let them tell you that change isn’t possible. It’s just hard, that’s all. You know, this country was founded on a tough, difficult idea — 13 colonies deciding to break off from the most powerful empire on Earth, and then drafting a document — a Declaration of Independence that embodied ideas that had never been tried before: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s not an easy idea. And it had to be fought for, inch by inch, year by year.

Slowly — slaves were freed. Slowly — women got the right to vote. Slowly — workers got the right to organize.

Imagine if our grandparents and our great-grandparents and our great-great-grandparents had said, "Oh, this is too hard. Folks are saying mean things about us. I’m not sure if we can ever get to the promised land." We wouldn’t be here today. But they understood that we are tested when we stand up in the face of difficulty; when we stand up in the face of uncertainty; when we’re unafraid to push forward. Because we know we’re doing it not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

That’s how we came through war and depression. That’s why we have civil rights and women’s rights and workers’ rights. That’s why we’ve been able to clean up our air and clean up our water. That’s why we’ve been able to end combat operations in one war.

The journey we began together was about building a movement for change that endures. It’s about understanding that in America anything is possible if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it, and most of all, believe in it.

I need you to keep fighting. I need you to keep working. And I need you to keep believing.”

We must heed President Obama's message. We need to keep fighting, keep working, keep organizing, keep gathering, keep speaking out, keep marching, keep rallying and keep believing! No one, anywhere will ever embrace our message if we stop talking, if we retreat, if we are intimidated, or if we listen to those who are trying to silence the voices of the alien workers for their own political and self-serving gains.

Again, I invite all of the alien workers, their families and supporters to sign the petition.

I wish I could have been with you this evening to share your enthusiasm to fight on. You are always in my heart no matter where I am. I will remain as one with you in your fight for status, political and social rights, liberty, democracy, and freedom until the fight is won. That is my renewed promise to you.


Anonymous said...

Did anyone else notice that the Variety said there was a low turnout when there was a large crowd!? Did they put in the story early?

Anonymous said...

There is really a low turnout. Anyway Kilili is clear that he is only supporting those people given CNMI residency, children born before 1978 and IRs with US children of voting age.

Anonymous said...

Were there more than 200 people. 200 is not a large crowd. (for this type of thing involving these issues)

Wendy said...

It's interesting that in the CNMI success is often measured by numbers. Success is realized when the goal is met. The goal was to bring workers together with religious groups and community members to unite them towards a common goal and to keep the issue in the forefront in the CNMI and in Washington. The vigil met the goals. Getting a few hundred people out on a Tuesday evening is great! Good work!

Anonymous said...

It's a nice feel-good exercise to have guest workers signing a petition, but no one who's making the decisions cares what the guest workers think. And everyone assumes that guest workers would want status. They won't be surprised to hear that guest workers are rallying for status. The much, much more important thing is to get US citizens in the CNMI (and wherever else) to push their federal government representatives on this issue. Citizens are the constituency, they vote, and their voices will be heard much more loudly and clearly than those of the guest workers.

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:56,
CNMI voters suck, who's in power now? if they don't hear foreign workers' voice, the local economy will tremendously collapse all the way down. That's the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

A lawyer on island and his small group told workers not to attend! Sad.