Attend Hearings and March!

February 23, 2011


















FEBRUARY 24 SAIPAN
Nonresidents and supporters will meet at 4:00pm at Kilili Beach and march to the Multi-Purpose Center. Please contact Rabby 671-888-4025 (United Workers Movement), Ronnie Doca (FILCOWA), Itos Feliciano (Human Dignity Movement) or leaders of the Chinese or Korean communities for more information.

FEBRUARY 25 TINIAN
Nonresidents and supporters: Rabby Syed will be at the Tinian Elementary School at 3:00pm to meet you. For more information call 671-888-4025.
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All nonresident workers who want to have a voice in determining their future are encouraged to attend the upcoming Senate Hearings concerning status for the long-term workers. Please bring signs and written testimony expressing your personal views on status and telling how long you and your family has lived and worked in the CNMI. You may submit copies of previous letters that you have sent to the U.S. Congress through Wendy Doromal, if you like. Also, those who cannot attend the hearing may submit testimony for the U.S. Congress through Rabby Syed (contact at 671-888-4025), Ronnie Doca, or Itos Feliciano who will send the copies to human rights advocate Wendy Doromal who will distribute them to Congressional committees and U.S. officials. You may also send your testimony directly to Wendy Doromal via email: doromal@earthlink.net .

Pursuant to 1 CMC 8 9904A written comments may be submitted to the Office of Senator Jude U. Hofschneider Honorable Jesus P. Mafias Memorial Building Capitol Hill Saipan prior to the convening of the hearing or at the hearing. Oral testimony may be presented at the public hearing. If you wish to present oral testimony please inform the Chairman no later than 24 hours prior to the public hearing.


WHY MARCH? WHY ATTEND A HEARING?

The draft Senate report is flawed because it is based on the lie that the U.S. Department of Interior did not allow officials from the CNMI the opportunity to submit their views on status for long-term nonresidents. The officials had two years from the time the bill was passed, and many face-to-face meetings with Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta; however, they failed to express their views or submit a statement.  (See The Lie for complete details of meeting dates and failed opportunities.)

The draft Senate report claims that the majority of the nonresidents are fine with disenfranchisement, or an FAS-type status, which is untrue. Most nonresidents consider "improved status" as U.S. status that includes full social and political rights, or hope for a green card with an unobstructed pathway to citizenship. The draft Senate report ignored the written testimony submitted by the United Workers Movement, which outlined the demands of our petition with over 7,000 signatures asking for green cards and a pathway to citizenship for the legal long-term CNMI nonresidents. The UWM will be re-submitting their testimony. All nonresidents and their supporters are invited to add their signatures to the testimony.


The draft Senate Report denied the existence of systematic, commonplace and ignored labor abuses that thousands of nonresident workers suffered for decades under the dysfunctional CNMI labor and immigration system. Certain rights belong to every human being as outlined in the United Nation Declaration of Human Rights. Certain constitutional rights belong to every person as long as they are on U.S. soil.  Every person has the right be paid for every hour that they work, but under the CNMI labor and immigration system many nonresident workers were denied of this fundamental right. The nonresident workers who were abused or cheated of wages deserve to be paid the full compensation that is owed to them.

I will be joining with CNMI worker groups to appeal to U.S. officials and international bodies for help in requesting reparation so these victims may be made whole.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

You wrote "Mafias" instead of "Mafnas." I like it!

the teachers said...

The senate is in denial. They still want "workers" but on their terms. They can't have it both ways. They want cheap labor to perform the dirty work while locals stay in their unfunded government jobs and the plan doesn't work. It worked for awhile supported by 250 mil a year in garment revenues, but with that gone, the economics no longer add up.

Keeping workers handcuffed is UNAMERICAN and asking workers to accept a stable immigration status to remain in the NMI is wrong. This is why I have always opposed CNMI residency, eventhough I know many contract workers support it.

What also doesn't add up is so many unemployed or under employed people living here. People without skills, those operating their own businesses, and those without employers will not have any chance for improved status and they are in denial to think otherwise.

Anonymous said...

5:58, I know what you are saying, but I think you have to look at two things. 1) When these folks signed up to come over to the CNMI they have NO IDEA that they would EVER qualify for improved status. Why would they? It was a job and a job is a job. Years and years and years go by and the situtation is...maybe they should be allowed to stay. I don't have a problem with that. If you had asked anyone who moved over here in 1998 to work do they expect to get a green card there answer would have been "what is a green card". Oh, don't get me wrong, some ladies had a thought of marrying a local and getting it that way, but they can still do that today.
Second, Why should'nt the CNMI want them to be able to stay here and work? That seemed like a good idea all those many years ago, before the USA controlled immigration. Yes, stay here as long as you want and work. How is it in the CNMI's best interest for these workers to get green cards? The thought is that everyone would leave for the States and compete for jobs with American Citizens and our own beloved illegal community.
So why we will here about, how does it go, how "fair" and "just" the US is and then they will through in the red herring about "human rights". Just when getting a green card about human rights? Why don't we just issue green cards to everyone in Haiti so they can come over.
Eh, the marches are protests are good..exercise.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:55 No alien worker expected that they would be working in the CNMI so long that that had no home to return to. You may disagree, but I feel that they deserve and have earned a green card. I would say almost every worker in 1998 knew what a green card was!

When was it ever a good idea for aliens to continue to be indentured servants? Good idea for the NMI employers and politicians, but a bad idea for alien workers.

You said, "How is it in the CNMI's best interest for these workers to get green cards? The thought is that everyone would leave for the States and compete for jobs with American Citizens and our own beloved illegal community."

Why does everything have to be in the CNMI's best interest? Why not in the best interest of all parties, including the best interest of the workers who have families to support. Is it in their best interest to be cheated of wages? To work at $5.50 an hour when they could work for $10.00 in the states? What beloved illegal community? I don't understand what you mean.

What do the good people of Haiti have to do with hardworking long term legal foreign workers who gave their sweat and skills to the CNMI community, a U.S. territory? I do not see the connection.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I agree that not everything has to be in the CNMI best interests and it would be in the best interests of the workers to get Green Cards. But looking at from the CNMI point of view, what's in it for them? I don't think (and I may be wrong) that you have ever said a good word about the working conditions of the CNMI contract workers in the CNMI. Knowing that, why would they stay. With all of the things you have said would you encourage them to stay? In other words getting a green card is actually like getting a ticket off a sinking ship. Tell me if I am wrong or if I have misunderstood your views of the Saipan workplace.
Our "beloved" illegal community was sarcarstic, I admit. But let's face it, these are the people many of these folks would be competiting with for jobs.
And actually, the CNMI is not a US territory. It is a possession under a convenant arrangement. The US did not assert themselves in immigration policies of the CNMI until recently. It is more than just a minor political consideration.
Don't get me wrong, I don't see any problem with an improved status and it seems neither does the USA. I think they see it the way I do. Solve and Contain the problem here in the CNMI and don't let it affect the rest of the USA.
You might like another reality, but this seems to be the one that is being put in place.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 11:10

It would be in the CNMI's best interest to learn to enforce laws and ensure every worker was paid fairly. To ensure that if an alien was robbed of wages, then the criminal employer should face consequences. Maybe if there were punishments, employers would think twice about routinely robbing alien workers of their wages. Maybe if the nonresident workers were treated with respect and appreciated they would want to stay. Maybe if the people realized no one -whether foreign worker or resident - wants to work for $5.50 when there are opportunities to earn more in other places then more would want to stay. But CNMI "leaders" advocate to keep workers poor and employers rich, to protect criminals and screw the victims, and to publicly put down the nonresidents workers with xenophobic and racist remarks.

That said, MANY nonresidents do want to stay. The CNMI is a beautiful place with many wonderful people. It is home to many workers who have lived there longer than in their homelands. Still, it is very sad, even pathetic, that after all the decades of lies, corruption and a system that screwed innocent foreign workers that the only way the CNMI "leaders" think that they can "keep" their foreign workforce is to give them a status that chains them to the CNMI, disenfranchises them, and creates a permanent two-tiered society. That to me is very un-American and bordering on evil.

Actually, there are few "good" things to say about the working conditions of the alien workers in the CNMI, a US commonwealth. There are some good employers, but unfortunately they are in the minority. It is far too easy to stick it to the foreign workers in the CNMI.

It is not my place to tell the foreign workers to stay or leave the CNMI. I am more interested in seeing reforms that make it a place where any person would want to stay and where no foreign person is abused or cheated. Still, cheated and unemployed foreign workers in limbo in the CNMI deserve to know about other opportunities, better places, and countries that don't want to disenfranchise them forever and "keep" them as dehumanized labor units rather than as equal community members and future citizens.

I know no one in Washington that wants to "contain the issue" or that even compares the LEGAL foreign workers of the CNMI with the illegal workers in the U.S. You said, "You might like another reality, but this seems to be the one that is being put in place." There is no evidence that your view is reality or that it is being put in place.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I will agree 100% that working conditions for some contract workers are just plain bad. The wages in general for everyone, even the "highly paid" is just sad. Really, teachers, police officers, even regular government workers are not getting paid enough and can actually make more money somewhere else. Of course, the lowest paid folks take the brundt of it. Honestly, I don't know how some people really make it here. Maybe I don't want to know.
And I agree, know one deserves to be treated badly, especially in the workplace. This unpaid wage thing is just wrong on every level.
But I will have to disagree with you about measures being put in place. What about the recommendations for FAS type status? Not set in stone, I agree, but this seems to be the plan that is being talked about.
On another point, I realize that the CNMI government is not behind, to say the least, the CW's getting green cards. But remember, it is not up to them. I don't really think if BenF came out tomorrow and said "We want all of our CW's to get green cards immediately" it would have any impact. It is not their decision, it is the USA's.
In the fullness of time I can see something happening, but not until they address the problem of illegal immigration (I know the CW's are legal) in the USA. While the two groups are different I think they are going to be looked at in the same conversation.

Anonymous said...

It's a shell game. The CNMI legislature's report is grandstanding so in the next election they could say they were doing something. The real action is in DC. Rabby, Wendy, and others should focus their attention on Kilili and the DC game (which may be an uphill battle in light of current anti-immigrant sentiment), not on the jokers in the CNMI Senate. Don't fall for the shell game.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:25 People's lives, security and future are on the line here and that, my friend, is no game. Of course, as we have repeated over and over, it will be the US Congress that makes the decision regarding status for the long-term nonresidents. That is why I concentrate my efforts on speaking with those in power who can push our agenda. Not just Kilili, but those in appropriate committees, friends in the House and Senate. Not just those in Congress either! Decisions like this are influenced by cabinet members (DOI, Labor, DHS State, Justice...) and the President. That is why my letters, reports and testimony are sent to all of these officials. Same with our petitions and hundreds of letters from nonresidents and their US Citizen children. (I am scanning everything to make a file that officials can access easier.)

Rabby, and most of the worker leaders share one vision. We are in contact daily and collaborate with people in the CNMI, officials and national and international NGOs and the national press.

Grandstanding? Hardly! Should people sit silent when they witness a wrong directed at themselves or others? Why shouldn't the nonresidents, their advocates, and supporters speak out against LIES, DECEIT, and DISHONESTY coming from CNMI government officials? The nonresidents have no power to vote them out of office, but they certainly can expose the truth and share it with those in power in Washington, DC. They can send a message to CNMI "leaders" that if they withhold testimony or lie about the abuses they will be called out and exposed. People who hurt others and are not held accountable will continue inflicting pain. We are working to institute meaningful reform that will benefit everyone.

The call for attendance to the march and Senate hearing is a protest against the suffering, abuse, lies and corruption and a cry for social and political rights, respect, and dignity as much as it is a reminder that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of the nonresident workers, their supporters and advocates call for the US Senate to grant green cards and a pathway to US citizenship. It is an absolute rejection of any CNMI-type status, chained to the islands-type status, disenfranchised limbo-type status, one step above slavery-type status. Why accept a crumb tossed out a window, if you can partake of the whole meal at the table? MARCH AND ATTEND THE SENATE HEARINGS!!!