Attend the March and Hearing!

February 20, 2011

There are several reasons I support the United Workers Movement and Human Dignity Movement in urging nonresidents and their supporters to march to the Multi-Purpose Center and attend the Senate hearing on February 24th:

To Decry the Dehumanization of the Nonresidents
"I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights." ~Bishop Desmond Tutu

Any policy or law proposed by elected officials or those in power that provides a provision that is not equally applied to all community members can only promote division, inequality, and a multi-tiered society.  Such policies often have discriminatory roots that single out a group based on race, nationality, gender or other qualities.  They are "us versus them" proposals or "ours versus not yours" arguments.  In our history there are many examples of divisive laws that have shredded the fabric of our democracy including the Jim Crow Laws, segregation laws, and the denial of the right of women to vote.

Arguments to defend unjust or exclusive proposals usually contain subtle suggestions of racism, superiority or the quest for power.  There are some common words and phrases that often precede shaky arguments used to justify or rationalize these laws and policies. One such phrase is at least.  "At least they can stay and work and that's why they came here."; "At least they earn more here than they could earn in their homelands."; "At least the legislation passed, even though it didn't contain the most important provision."; "At least they got some of the pay that was owed to them." At least is used too often to dismiss, excuse or deflect from prejudicial or unjust statements, acts, laws, or policies.

At least has a sister called except for and a brother called excluding.  Laws that exclude major segments of the society from full participation are dehumanizing and support the argument for a two-tiered society or the existence of privileged and unprivileged classes.

Our nation should move forward in establishing laws that ensure equal rights for all community members, not take steps backwards in excluding some who deserve to have full social and political rights. We need to unite and speak out against laws that deny social and political rights to long-term nonresidents.

In 1917 President Theodore Roosevelt stated, "Never under any condition should this nation look at an immigrant as primarily a labor unit. He should always be looked at primarily as a future citizen." Those words ring true today.

To Protest Supremacy, an un-American Principle
"It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people."
~Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Any proposed status that suggests disenfranchisement is based on supremacy and exclusion.  How can the same people who argued that it was perfectly fine to bring in so many foreigner workers that they actually became a minority in their own land, now argue that they fear that they will become a minority in their homeland if the foreign workers are given green cards or citizenship? The CNMI leaders are the ones who brought in the workers and approved laws that allowed them to become long-term and invested community members by allowing annual renewal of their contracts.  Their message is that it is fine to have the long-term workers in the CNMI as long as they remain a disenfranchised underclass; as long as they remain voiceless and any decisions about their civil, political and social rights can be controlled by CNMI elected officials.

The Senate report states that the "majority of the people" do not want long term residents to vote or have a voice in their community. Even though I doubt that the "majority" feels that way, the argument makes little sense.  Any U.S. citizen could move to the CNMI and within a matter of months have the right to vote, but a long-term nonresident of 5, 10, 20 or more years would never have the right to vote or serve on a jury if CNMI officials had their way.  How is that right?

States and territories should not determine federal law or who is granted U.S. status such as green cards or citizenship.  It was stated that a main purpose of PL 110-229 was to apply one consistent immigration law to U.S. states and territories. Permanent disenfranchisement from communities on U.S. soil is not compatible with U.S. immigration law or American ideals.

Dehumanization of a segment of society is endorsed to deny rights, to maintain supremacy, to protect the perceived rights of the ruling class, to keep an underclass at a safe distance, and to maintain authority. It leads to oppression. It is un-American and must be protested.

Cesar Chavez said, "What is at stake is human dignity. If a man is not accorded respect he cannot respect himself and if he does not respect himself, he cannot demand it." If people want human dignity and rights, they must stand up for them.

To Condemn Lies and Untruths
"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance." ~ Robert Kennedy 

Those who allow lies or untruths to stand without challenging them are, in fact, condoning them, and allowing them to prosper. We have an obligation to expose and object to untrue statements or falsehoods in published reports made elected officials or those in positions of power.

It is a bold lie to deny the systematic, prevalent and serious labor abuses including the routine theft of wages that adversely impacted thousands of foreign contract workers, as was stated in the draft Senate Report. It is doubly offensive that the criminal employers who stole from the workers were never punished and never faced any consequences.  Every nonresident worker who is owed any money from a current or former employer should march and appear at the hearing to protest this gross injustice that was dismissed and condoned by CNMI elected officials.

It is not truthful to say that the majority of the nonresidents support merely the ability to have a "stable status" that allows them to continue to work in the CNMI without social or political rights. Clearly the marches, rallies, petitions, testimony and reports to U.S. Congress and officials shows otherwise. The majority of the nonresident workers have expressed that they want green cards and U.S. citizenship.

The draft Senate report omitted the voice of a major segment of the CNMI including testimony representing 7,000 residents and nonresidents who signed a petition asking the U.S. Congress to provide green cards and a direct pathway to citizenship for the long-term nonresidents of the CNMI.  It is deceitful to include only testimony that backs the wishes of the elected CNMI officials and to omit conflicting testimony and such actions should be challenged.

Previous statements and testimony made by nonresident leaders prove that most nonresidents seek green card status that will lead to U.S. citizenship.   Here are some quotes from statements and testimony supporting green cards and a pathway to citizenship:

Rabby Syed (Nonresident worker leader) Testimony to Senate submitted August  2010: 
"We appeal to the members of this Senate committee, and to all the leaders of the CNMI, to support long-term U.S. status and a pathway to citizenship for CNMI guest workers. We have grown to love the CNMI during the course of our many years in these islands. Our families and friends are here. Our home is here. We have dedicated our lives to building and developing this great commonwealth, and we, too, are your constituents. For the sake of our families, the workforce, and the economic recovery of the CNMI, we ask for your support of our request to U.S. Congress for long-term status and a pathway to citizenship."

Itos Feliciano (Nonresident worker leader) Testimony to CNMI Senate February 2011:
"As we have appealed to the U.S. Congress, we appeal to the members of this Senate committee, the CNMI Legislature and to all the leaders of the CNMI, to support long-term U.S. status and a pathway to citizenship for the legal long-term CNMI guest workers, for the legal long-term workers who have lived and worked in the CNMI for five or more years."

Rene Reyes (Nonresident worker leader) Statement to U.S. House CODEL, August 2009:
"We hope that you will consider our pleas and establish a just and democratic guest worker program and immediately act to ensure the security and well-being of thousands of U.S. citizen children and their families by granting us permanent U.S. status and a direct pathway to citizenship."

Bonifacio V. Sagana: (Nonresident worker leader) Oral Testimony to House Committee Hearing, August 15, 2007: 
"We continue to believe that long-term alien residents of Saipan should be admitted to U.S. lawful permanent residency, with a path to citizenship should they choose it, rather than the lawful non-immigrant status proposed by the bill..."

Moody Marie Binuya (Nonresident worker) Statement to U.S. House CODEL August 2009:
"We look forward to November 28, the implementation date of Public Law 110-229, with hope and anticipation that the new federal immigration system will be fair and flexible, and will allow us and our families to stabilize our presence here during the transition period. And we urgently request that you to take the next moral and much-needed step to deliver justice in the CNMI by moving quickly to grant us permanent U.S. status and a pathway to citizenship."

CNMI residents have also expressed support of U.S. citizenship status for nonresidents:

Former CNMI Representative Tina Sablan: As quoted by the Saipan Tribune July 2, 2010:
“What is it that some of us are so afraid of?”

Sablan was referring to some indigenous people's reasons for opposing the Interior recommendation, especially the apparent fear that someday these non-indigenous will also have an opportunity to vote or participate in other political processes.

“Is that really something that threatens our indigenous cultures? If so, how? Explain that to me. I am a person of Northern Marianas descent, I don't understand that. I grew up with children of guest workers and guest workers-they're my teachers, friends, classmates, co-workers, and I'm not afraid of that,” she told lawmakers and other community members.

Sablan said it is not right that members of the CNMI community for over five to 20 years have never been allowed to participate in the political process, adding that this goes against the expectations for the CNMI as a member of the U.S. family.

“I think it's important to emphasize that in the Covenant, we agreed that federal immigration law could be applied at anytime, by the act of U.S. Congress. We also recognize the right of U.S. Congress to grant U.S. citizenship. Even though we're having these hearings and we're discussing this issue, at the end of the day, it is a national decision that has to be made, and it is not up to anyone of us in the CNMI and even in any other state to decide on its own the future U.S. status of [other foreigners],” she added.

Ron Hodges (CNMI resident) Chamberonomics 115 - Welcome to Saipan, to CODEL August 2009:
"A final concern still unanswered and causing much uncertainty is a key issue that initiated federal legislation, and that is what to do with legal contract guest workers. This administration and many foreign owned businesses don’t want them to leave, don’t want their wages to increase, don’t want them to have the right to change employers, and they still want to retain the status quo of servitude. Some want older CGWs deported because they are owed at least 6 million dollars in judgments for non-payment and to replace them with a younger class of guest worker. This is further complicated by the well being of thousands of U.S. citizen children who have resided here their entire lives. The only logical answer is to improve the status of legal workers here with an unobstructed path to U.S. citizenship."

Professor Rose Villazor ( Hofstra University School of Law Associate Professor, former CNMI resident, daughter of former nonresident workers) Statement to CODEL August 2009:
"The Virgin Islands experience with the guest worker program, and Congress’s decision to ultimately terminate that program and rectify the problems it created through the granting of permanent residency, offers compelling insights and precedent for similar congressional action to grant permanent residency to guest workers in the CNMI. In the Virgin Islands’ context, the failure to grant permanent residency would have been been deemed problematic for social, humanitarian, and political reasons. Not granting permanent residency to guest workers in the CNMI context poses similar problems as well. Congress should seriously consider and ultimately pass legislation granting permanent residency to the CNMI’s guest workers and their noncitizen family members, and thereby address the undemocratic consequences and humanitarian problems that are and have been associated with the CNMI’s guest worker program."

There are, of course, hundreds of letters, testimonies and statements from many other people who support U.S. citizenship as a status for long-term foreign workers. A petition initiated by the faith-based community of Saipan in May 2010 received 1,038 signatures. As reported, a petition initiated in November 2009 and delivered in February 2010 gained about 7,000 signatures all supporting U.S. citizenship for long-term nonresidents. Additionally, there is currently a petition online calling for President Obama to extend benefits and protections to the alien workers until a more permanent status is determined.  It  has 794 signatures and you can still sign it here!

To Keep the Cause Alive! "Our struggle is not easy. Those who oppose our cause are rich and powerful and they have many allies in high places. We are poor. Our allies are few. But we have something the rich do not own. We have our bodies and spirits and the justice of our cause as our weapons." ~Cesar Chavez

No movement was ever advanced by silence. Whispers from the CNMI nonresidents will never be heard in Washington, DC. Change isn’t going to be enacted by those in power unless those without the power force the issue and keep it in the spotlight. The only way that we can keep this issue alive is to keep speaking up, writing letters, submitting testimony, signing petitions, rallying, marching and attending meetings, forums, vigils, and hearings.

When the governor and those wishing to maintain the broken labor system successfully had the grandfathering provision removed from the federal legislation it changed the original intent of the law and placed a huge burden on those nonresidents who have worked and lived in the CNMI for years.  The DOI Report was issued last year and now it is time for the U.S. Congress to act on it.  It could be this month, this year, or not until a more bipartisan Congress convenes down the road. But Congress will act.

Those who support a just and democratic guest worker program in the CNMI and in the mainland, support opportunities where foreign workers and immigrants have control over their destiny and the destiny of their families. They embrace the words of President Barack Obama: "In America, no dream is beyond your grasp if you reach for it, and fight for it, and work for it." Attend the march and hearing!

Public Hearing Dates:

Saipan: Thursday February Feb. 24th, 6:00pm at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe

Tinian: Friday, February 25th, 6:00pm at the cafeteria of Tinian Elementary School

You can share your opinions with:
  • Signs
  • Letters - Document your preference for status to give to the legislators and keep a copy. Any copies (emailed, mailed or scanned) that I receive will be delivered to appropriate members of Congress and officials in Washington, DC 
  • Oral presentation - prepare short oral remarks. All remarks must be presented 24 hours in advance
On Saipan nonresidents and their supporters will be meeting at Kilili Beach on February 24, 2011 at 4:00pm. At 5:00pm they will walk to the Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe for the Senate Hearing. 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. Copies of your testimony will be sent to the U.S. Congress for consideration.

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: .


Anonymous said...

We can go and try to make a change or we can sit in our house and worry. Even if we don't get what we want we still have to take a stand!

former CNMI residents said...

There is nothing more democratic than protesting and demonstrating. Those in power hate it when the masses exert their rights to protest exploitation and denial of just rights. Good luck to the alien workers. Get out there! We'll be supporting you from afar.

Anonymous said...

Thanks to 8:02 for your support. Please OCWs join us in the march. It's sure that the Senate committee is counting the aliens: They say only 30 showed up at the Rota hearing. How many locals? Let's show them 500 in Saipan and 100 in Tinian! Or more!

Anonymous said...


Wendy said...

Anonymous 8:33

The Saipan Tribune did not reveal the real story about the Rota hearing. I called foreign workers in Rota. There were only about FIVE Rota residents who attended the hearing. (That was not reported in the Tribune story,) THIRTY or more nonresidents attended. A local spoke for green cards for the nonresident workers and the Senator questioned him (argued with him) about his position. According to the nonresident worker, "He asked him why he only stayed two years in Rota and he has that sentiment for the workers like that!" The Tribune story presented that the people at that hearing supported "stable status" and failed to mention that people spoke for green cards.

From a worker who attended: "The Senators argued with people who have a different sentiment. The workers reported that the Senator just presented what they want and tried to argue their point. The workers said that these Senators won't be the ones to give us status. Why should we speak to them? We already signed petitions and sent letters. They just want umbrella permits to 2014 and keep us slaves."

The worker told me that he left the hearing because the Senators started speaking in Chamorro ignoring the fact that there were over 30 nonresidents who don't speak the language! (Reminds me of those old PTA meetings on Rota.)

Does Senator Hofschneider who was quoted in the Saipan Tribune think people on Rota don't read the paper and he can get away with a false impression of that hearing? Shame on him!

Anonymous said...

That is not shocking. More of the same. Lies and spin because the truth is not what they want to hear!

Anonymous said...

Noni 8:02 "Those in power hate it" because they want the congress to support their plan. We are marching and attending the hearing because we love the CNMI and want the truth to the congress.

Anonymous said...

Why march? The United Workers Movement holds regular rallies, meetings, forums, and marches to keep the issue in the forefront in Washington, D.C.
last time Senator Hofschneider lied about the statement submitted by the individual including UWM-NMI in favor of GREEN CARD.Alien workers go for MARCH and show the US congress that we are against their report. Their is no reason to trust Mr. Hofschneider.

Anonymous said...

You speak as a human rights advocate who is idealistic and uncompromising, as were all of the true fighters and advocates.

Our problem in the NMI is that we need to grow intellectually and in character before we can see real change. Some essential and basic societal components that are lacking in the NMI are:

1.Leaders who have honor,integrity, courage, fairness,honesty and empathy.

2.Residents with no long term memories who seem to have forgotten how they were handed U.S. citizenship and where our money comes from.

3.Nonresidents lacking the foresight to stand together in unity for their common goal(green cards).

Anonymous said...

Chamorros possess Filipino blood, Carolinians possess Chamorro blood, Filipinos possess Chamorro blood, American possess Carolinian blood, Japanese possess Chamorro blood, Chamorro possess American blood. So whats da problem here? I see as the only problem a small group of old men who worry they will lose their lifetime jobs of politician. We should all root for each other. Stop this crazyness.

Anonymous said...

Abraham Lincoln said: “To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men.” BE THERE AT THE MARCH AND HEARINGS TINIAN AND SAIPAN CWs!

U.S. citizen said...

It's not enough to lie in the report. They call more hearings and lie about the 1st hearing too. So glad to know that our "leaders" are so honest and trustworthy. The Tribune said, "Some 30 showed up at the hearing. He said they had expected about a hundred to attend the hearing." He being Hofschneider. He expected 100 in Rota? According to Wendy there were only 5 locals there. How many locals did he think would show? The locals were out numbered 6-1! Does anyone really believe the locals give a damn what status is given? I don't think most locals care if the workers get outright citizenship. They have lived with them for 25 years! All residents and nonresidents want a good economy. Everyone wants the lies and corruption to end. How can we attract tourists when we are the island of thieves, of criminals, cheaters and liars? Let's concentrate on cleaning up the island to bring in the tourists and the dollars. What has this legislature accomplished except to lie and come up with crazy plans to make quick money?

Anonymous said...

The Dekada Movement led by Bonifacio Sagana, the Marianas Advocates for Humanitarian Affairs Ltd. or Mahal led by its president Rene Reyes, and as of yesterday, the Unity Group of Foreign Workers led by Carlito J. Marquez, said they will not be joining UWM's planned protest march.
Who is this Carlito Marquez? Is his Unity Group of Foreign Workers is properly registered? Or is this the new version of DEKADA? Why suddenly Boni changed his mind after supporting FAS Status? We cannot trust him. He is the man and his DEKADA, he used poor alien workers by stealing hundreds of dollars. What is his new intention? Folks, look into this carefully!

Anonymous said...

6:36 I dont know the other guys. Carlito was the President of Bicol Group. He's a good guy.He hangs with Boni and the remaining DEKADA members. All three guys follow Woodruff.

the teacher said...

The CNMI has long practiced protectionism for jobs and contracts. This system hasn't worked. Locals may have even been disabled from having an advantage they didn't work for or didn't need to work for. Young local citizens are not performing well vs children of CGWs in the CNMI public schools. The recent math courts is but one example and that was dominated by non NMD students at every grade level.

Anonymous said...

As nice (and useless in my opinion) these marches and protests are, there is not going be any action on green cards or citizenship until there is a National policy on this subject. Don't think of our National leaders are bold and decisive. They don't want to rock the boat and they are sure not going to use the CNMI as a "test case". Why not? Well, it there is ANY precedent for doing something, even if it is called a test, then it could become the law of the land and our leaders are not going to take that chance. They will give some improved status, which they should, but it will not be exactly what the workers would have liked. And I have thought all along, just because the CNMI made a mistake and did not follow it's own rules are immigration it should not be burden of the US to "make good" on their shortcomings. Sure, they can stay here, no problem with that. The CNMI made that bed and now they can lie it, but don't expect the USA, which did not control the immigration polices of the CNMI for a long time, to roll over.

yho said...

Anons 6:36 and 8:00 a.m.

from what i understand in their statements, they too are for a pathway to citizenship, but are just saying that they appreciate the gesture coming from the local lawmakers. that is my thought too.

many have said that this year there is no possibility that u.s. congress will act on immigration issues. we all know that this year is critical for CWs. any improved status for now to get us through November should be a welcome thing. we can still continue the fight but we need to be patient and take advantage of any lifeline that is being extended to us in the meantime.

remember how and why the controversial umbrella permits were issued. was it not to help maintain the alien workforce here? we are still here and our hosts made it possible.

the local lawmakers are just doing what they think is best for all. we think differently? then by all means we can always present our ideas but let us please remain respectful.

Anonymous said...

9:47 Naysayers always put down political activism like marches and the like stating they are useless. Martin Luther King heard that, so did Gandhi and those who protested last week in Egypt. Marches and protests remain one of the most useful tools oppressed people have. Why? They bring attention and publicity to just causes. They spark public debate and that often exposes truth and change. I also disagree with your theory on the "test case." The CNMI is not a test case. It is a Commonwealth of the United States and whenever status is granted it will represent U.S. immigration law. It will also take into consideration the despicable treatment of the aliens in the CNMI.

26 years said...

Yho 9:58 I don't get your thinking. but you are correct in saying they extend a gesture. That gesture of FAS status with no rights for life is a dangerous suggestion. I'm not ok with FAS status when I know if I worked in the US for less time then I've work here I would all ready have got a green card and would be a US citizen. The CNMI doesn't have power to extend your stay or grant status,the US does.

We can't be patient and wait. We need to call attention to our situation to the people who have power to do something.

Do you believe that our "hosts" who put out PL 15-108 gave umbrella permits to be kind? They had to give a token status or the US would have gave us status and it could have been green cards. The CNMI gave umbrellas out of fear and to keep there power over us.
Local lawmakers are doing what is good for them to keep there power.That is not good for me or my family.if US takes there gesture and grants FAS I'll leave and try Canada or US to have future.

Anonymous said...

To 10:59 APPLAUSE to you for this comment.Read the comments in the MV by iamwatchingyou. I INVITE I AM WATCHING YOU TO MARCH WITH US!Thank you iamwatchingyou. please stand with us.

Anonymous said...

There is absolutely no reason to support FAS like status - still unclear why the FAS citizens ever negotiated for it unless they thought that their islands would magically develop an economy that could use the returning citizens trained in the US. Why would any CNMI resident want to turn our islands into a detention facility for aliens for the next three years? It is crazy xenophobic hallucinations that anything recommended by the CNMI will have any impact on the US Congress.

Further, rumors are flying around the alien population from supposed alien worker leaders and supporters. Don't be fooled - if an alien does not have a federal status - CW, H, L, F or whatever derivative status is available under the visa holder - the alien will be removed. ICE is geared up and ready to take action.

Also, the so-called 628 on the AG list granting conditional umbrellas on November 25, 2009 do not have protected status under the USCIS - any statements to the contrary are simply wrong and based on outdated information.

Finally, find employers or prepare to go home. The US does not see our islands as the center of the universe.

March - YES; Protest - YES; Petition - YES but do it with the dignity that is continually reflected on this website by Wendy and by Rabby Sayed of the UWM.

Anonymous said...

All across the CNMI aliens are being cheated.To many businesses owe money to workers. But some people think we should sit and take "gesture" when they do nothing to help. Soon another $6 million in unpaid wages can be collected.the officials can say those are settled.MARCH!

Anonymous said...

Marquez issued yesterday a written testimony to the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies, saying that the Unity Group of Foreign workers is “not giving up hope” on permanent resident status commonly known as “green card” for nonresident workers who have been in the CNMI for at least 10 years at the signing of U.S. Public Law 110-229 in May 2008. Why is Marquez
asking status for people those who have been in the CNMI for at least 10 years? What method he took to justify this time limit? While, DOI recommend status for the people those who have lived in the CNMI for five years and above legally from the date of the enactment of PL 110-229.

Anonymous said...

8:38 Marquez(Dekada), Boni, and others calling for 10 years are Woodruff followers. Dekada means 10. Anyone knows US law says 5 years. They took 10 to make it like they ask less than they have to. Like the workers are making a deal for NMI. But because they took $100 from 3000 tricked workers promising they'd get them green cards if they worked in the NMI for 10 years they stick to that number. Where is the $300,000? Did Wooruff and Boni spent it? Where are records?Why are they hiding them? They won't tell no one where the dues money is. That's why 3000 members now gone to 15 dekada members. They think they own the number 10 and won't let it go even if it hurts those left out --those 5 -9 years. woodruff's been working with NMI officials.Some Woodruff followers call themself unity because workers hate Dekada for stealing there money. There still Woodruff followers. These people also put down other groups .These are the people who texts other workers and tell them don't go to vigils or meetings the other groups hold.

Anonymous said...

I am ashamed of what Dekada is doing now.They want to work with NMI ok. but don't tell me you speak for me. don't tell me not to march!

Anonymous said...

Dekada: Once a member, always a member!

Anonymous said...

11:55AM You said "Dekada: Once a member, always a member!"Do you mean like signing a pact with the devil?

Anonymous said...

4:57 Maybe we can have a petition to show we don't belong to DEKADA.