Omissions and Truth-bending in CNMI Status Recommendation Report

February 13, 2011

It is not only extremely disingenuous, but also  unwise for CNMI elected officials to author and endorse a report to the U.S. Congress that does represent the truth. The draft report attempts to rewrite history, contains only handpicked and select statements from Senate hearings that were favorable to the Senate's position, and it withholds any opposing testimony.

Among the untruths contained within the pages of the CNMI Senate's report on recommendations for status for the long term workers is this bold lie from the section that states what nonresident workers testified:
"Nonimmigrant workers and worker advocates came to the hearings although not in the same number as the indigenous community. None demanded citizenship, or permanent resident status. They talked sincerely about living in the Commonwealth for five or ten years and more, how they loved tile Commonwealth, had married, had children, left a family behind back home. To a person, they all testified they wanted the legal right to remain, to travel home or the United States, and build their lives secure in the right to remain."  
While it is true that no one demanded anything, many stated that the status that they sought was green cards with a pathway to citizenship.  Some who promoted this status were foreign workers and others were citizens speaking on their behalf. Some voiced their opinions orally at the hearings, some submitted written testimony, while others both spoke and submitted written testimony.

Testimony from United Worker Movement (NMI) president Rabby Syed was presented at the hearing, but it was conspicuously absent from the report. His oral and written testimony was presented on behalf of hundreds of foreign workers who are members of to the United Workers Movement. The testimony stated (emphasis added):
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.
Why was this testimony omitted?  It was important enough to be quoted in the Saipan Tribune in an article that noted that over 7,000 nonresidents and residents signed a petition to the U.S. Congress requesting green cards and a pathway to citizenship that was quoted in his testimony. It is especially disturbing since the UWM is one of the most active and vocal worker groups in the CNMI.

 Read the entire testimony from the United Workers Movement:


In the section of the report that quoted what CNMI residents had to say at the hearings, the report again selected only statements to back the legislators' agenda. Concerning the option of granting U.S. citizenship, from the report:
"Some who testified echoed a concern that granting nonimmigrant workers citizenship or a pathway to citizenship through permanent resident status would violate the Covenant. The Covenant's provisions protect the right of self-governance. Indeed, $ 105 of the Covenant, reprinted below, memorializes a commitment on behalf of the U.S. to limit its control so far as possible over the Commonwealth."

"What will happen if overnight, some testified, newly minted citizens represent a voting majority?"
There are other statements along this line, but not even one statement backing a pathway to U.S. citizenship was included in the report! Anyone reading the report would think that no CNMI resident favored such a position, which is totally untrue.

From U.S. citizen Glen Hunter's testimony, which was not mentioned in the report:
One of the most prevalent fears I have heard about is in regard to voting rights. I know that a few people arre worried that contract workers will vote if granted status. I hav grown up with many of the contract workers on this island, and their children. We must all realize that after so many years, many of them and their children are already voting in the CNMI. I find nothing wrong with a guest worker who has been in the CNMI for many years being allowed to vote. At the moment any US Citizen from anywhere can move here and vote after 90 days. Why would it bother me if a person who has been here for 5 years is allowed to vote? I do not understand this reasoning.
A July 9, 2010 Marianas Variety article quoted Mr. Hunter's oral testimony, which was also absent from the report:
Hunter told the committee he supports the move to grant guest workers improved status.

“Go ahead and give them a pathway to U.S. citizenship,” he said.
A July 2, 2010 Saipan Tribune article writes of the Senate hearing held at the Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe and quotes another CNMI resident and U.S. citizen who supports citizenship as the option:
Former Rep. Tina Sablan, in her testimony, asked, “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.

Sablan added that the Covenant and the Constitution do not provide for “guaranteed right, indigenous-only or NMD-only government.”
The report also failed to include this testimony.

We expect that there are recordings of public hearings or at least notes.  We also expect that the number of attendees is accurately recorded, but the report gives the impression that hearing were well-attended, when in fact, that is not true.  It is estimated that 1% of the total CNMI population attended the hearings. From the July 9, 2010 Marianas Variety articleLow turnout again for improved status hearing:
THE third in a series of seven public hearings that the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies is conducting regarding the U.S. Department of the Interior’s recommendation to grant long-term guest workers improved immigration status was again marred by low turnout.

During Wednesday’s hearing held at Garapan Elementary School, less than 20 members of the public showed up.

They included former Rep. Tina Sablan, Glenn Hunter and Rabby Syed, president of the United Workers Movement.
In June, 2010, Senate President Paul Manglona stated that the hearings were "open to all regardless of immigration status and nationality" adding "this is the reason it is called a public hearing." Community members expect that diverse opinions expressed at public hearing will be presented in any reports or in supporting documentation. In fact Senate Vice-President Jude Hofschneider (R-Tinian), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Federal Relations and Independent Agencies, stated that the Senate recommendation "will be based on public opinions presented during the hearings." Apparently only on the opinions that the legislators wanted to hear.

As it is written, the dishonorable draft report mocks the purpose of a public hearing and is a slap in the face to democracy.

31 comments:

Green Cards for All! said...

We don't want no stinkin' FAS.

And what about our unpaid wages?

Reparations now!

Why isn't that in the report, either? It would help the CNMI economy, and is only just.

We are not disposable commodities!

Anonymous said...

let's all go to the hearing on Thurs (24th) and let's see if all the statements to be made by us will be omitted. OCW should provide almost all the statement than the cons. I smelled that if they sense that we are all going and no locals, wanna bet... they will postpone or not to have the hearing anymore.

not gonna take it anymore said...

REPARATIONS NOW is the right answer to this report. For a week the report wasn't available to anyone except the Saipan Tribune. The Tribune didn't even mention that the report was totally one sided and deceptive, just that it recommended FAS. Please post the appendix so we can read the testimonies they attached. Let's show up at the hearing and stand together for TRUTH, GREEN CARDS, REPARATIONS, JUSTICE, NO MORE LIES!

Anonymous said...

Why are workers invited to the hearings if they ignore us if they don't like what we say? Are they making fun of us? Thanks Rabby for standing up for us.

Anonymous said...

Just as I suspected, the Tribune now has this story on their front page. Are they paying you Wendy? You break the news and the CNMI papers follow or quote your blog. You work for them?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 12:26

The name of this site is Unheard No More! The purpose is clearly stated under the masthead. The intention is to get the truth out to the people of the CNMI and everywhere! isn't it wonderful that the CNMI reporters are helping to do that? I am grateful that they often quote this site and give voice to me and to the workers. The reporters don't need to ask my permission to quote this site or build stories based on information from it. They have it 100%.

And no, I do not get paid for researching, writing or maintaining this site or any other work I do to promote social justice for the foreign workers. I do not work for any newspaper. At one time many years ago I worked as a freelance reporter/photographer for the Variety and the Pacific Daily News. No newspaper pays me now.

Wendy said...

I agree with most commenters here and in the previous post who stress turning out for the hearings. As one person wrote: "The best response to the Senate report is not reaction, but action!"

Attend the hearings and submit written testimony! You can send copies of your written testimony to me at doromal@earthlink.net. I have spamblocker so put in the subject line that it is CNMI testimony. I will make sure it gets to the appropriate members in the U.S. Congress.

Captain said...

This is not much different than any other "Public Hearing" on any other subject.
Those conducting it only hear what they want to hear and only do what they had originally intended to do regardless of what the community on the whole wants.
Only a matter of "show" to make it look like they are all following the law and taking into account the desire of the community.

Besides, what ever comes out in this report will have no bearing on the ultimate outcome the US adopts on the subject,it will just further show the incompetent, self serving, and out of focus mentality of these uneducated clowns.
This report (as written)will further put the NMI in an unfavorable light with the rest of the US elected by the attempts at contradicting all of the documents and petitions that have been submitted to DC in the past.(and future)

This along with ANY testimony or suggestions from this Gov. while on his visit to Wash.(if he is at all able to get "appointments" with the people on his wish list) will continue to make the NMI the subject of further jokes in DC.

It seems like our NMI elected think the elected in DC are all stupid or "out of touch with reality" like here.

While the US elected are not exactly "saints" they have much more experience (and education) at cover ups and "scamming" then our elected on this matter, who are at pre-school state and yet to reach the kindergarten level.

Anonymous said...

The captain is very correct.

Anonymous said...

The outcome is not determined, but the writing is on the wall. It is just a matter of time now. I know the CW's here wished for a better outcome, but this seems to be the way it is. Sure, you can fight to the last day, sign petitions, sing songs, and tell everyone you want about your plight, but at this point...the writing is on the wall. Unfortunately, the writing is also on the wall for the CNMI. People refuse to read it, understand it, or do anything about it.
The CW's need green cards not so they can fell "like a part of this island", but so they have a way to get off this sinking ship. For that I am sorry as no one deserves to be subject to economic deportation.

Anonymous said...

Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan, at the same time, reiterated yesterday that Congress is unlikely to allow long-term foreign workers in the CNMI to freely travel and work in the U.S. and its territories just like Freely Associated States citizens.

He said another critical issue that needs to be addressed is the likely separation of many families after November 2011 when umbrella permits expire.

While immediate relatives of U.S. citizens have met the standards for change of status such as “green card,” their income threshold prevents them from applying and granted a change in status, he said.

Sablan said other states already have problems with FAS status, which is what the CNMI Senate plans to recommend to Congress.


Haidee V. Eugenio, “'Senate report excludes testimony that supports green card and US citizenship' -- Kilili says allowing foreign workers to freely work, travel in US not likely to pass Congress,” Saipan Tribune, Monday, February 14, 2011 (emphasis added), available at http://www.saipantribune.com/newsstory.aspx?newsID=106969&cat=1.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:02

Not likely (as posted previously here) to pass Congress because we have a very polarized, bipartisan Congress with a Republican obstructionist House! Not because there is opposition to giving LEGAL long-term CNMI workers status. There is absolutely NO evidence or statements from anyone to support that notion. Everyone I have talked to in Congress says the problem is the polarization and tea party pleaser Republicans. If ANYTHING passes that House, we'll be lucky.

Anonymous said...

The report shows no respect for alien workers and our contribution. So many CWs are owed money and they say no real labor abuses happened here! The report show they just want to keep us down. They want us under them as low level workers even if we do jobs they can't do. We can never be equals here. They would have all aliens leave than give us rights or show we are part of NMI. We can live here 50 years and they will still remind us this isn't our home and we are just a workers. So be it. We all must remember who we are and where we came from. We have to look deep inside to gather our pride and self respect. Now before November we have to make plans for a new home that will be a real permanent home where we are wanted. Are we truly wanted here? No. Chammoro and Carolinian race is more important than human race here.If I had a dollar for every time I was looked down on and insulted I would be a rich man.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:00pm, remember racist people are just insecure and scared, there are only one left to them to fight for it, that this is their island (that we built), besides that you are still better off!

Captain said...

7:00 pm,
I agree with your comments,years down the line, it will be like situation after the garment factories left..
Nobody will plan or nobody will know what to do with no skilled labor. Even the locals are leaving, so best everybody leave this place to Fitial and associates.
There are many places that want "skilled workers" New Zealand, Australia, and Canada come to mind and the workers are treated very well and helped to buy houses, cars etc.
New Zealand changed it immigration laws a few years ago from two years residency to get a New Zealand passport, I believe to 6 months.
Usually the company that hires the CW will also do the paperwork for the wife and kids at the same time they do the one for the applicant.

In the past, I made out paperwork for many, usually the worker goes single with a 90 day "probationary" period with the company.
The worker has to pay his plane fare initially.
Once probation is over,(mostly within the second month he is accepted, or not) he is reimbursed and also the company usually will then fly the family over and also set up loans for car and house etc.
The pay is high and includes incremental raises and benefits.
The worker and family is accepted well into the community. (from past communications with people that I had done the paperwork for)
The problem for some may be there is an age "break off" I think it was 54 yrs old.
BTW this is open for ANY trades person regardless of their nationality.
But English is a must.
Most of the most immediate high priority jobs are posted on the web.
I am still on medical in the Phil. so do not have any contact sites to post.
There are probably many out there that do.
Good luck, you might try Guam in the interim, depending on your job skills.
That is Davis Bacon wages for DOD contracts. Good luck to all.

Anonymous said...

8:48 Racist people may be insecure. They are also haters, mean, ignorant , cruel, hurtful, feel superior, oppressive, selfish, and some are evil. Better off than what? Dead? I had enough I would rather eat grass in PI than be kicked one day more in NMI. I'm taking my pride and skills to a place I can be respected. Thanks captain. I am still waiting for my $12,600 from my first boss. The NMI people can think about what they did when we're all gone! Lie to each other. Cheat each other. Good luck to anyone who isn't crooked. Maybe you can teach them wwjd.

CNMI Resident Status! said...

The CNMI Legislature has been listening. There will be no more proposal for FAS status!

Now it is “CNMI Resident Status”.

This is consistent with expressly stated Congressional intent of Public Law 110-229 to reduce the guest worker population to zero.

If you have a job you like, that pays a better wage than you think you could get elsewhere, and you still enjoy the quality of life and the (mostly) warm and welcoming people, by all means stay.

After all, you came here to work and, who knows, there may be a Green Card at the end of the rainbow in 5 or 10 years when the U.S. Congress resolves its national immigration issues and there are fewer of us in the CNMI.

But if you came here primarily for a Green Card, which was never, ever promised, my advice is to move on to more immigrant-friendly destinations such as Australia, Canada, or New Zealand. That's what my relatives did. (It is also easier to get to the U.S. from Canada.)

The CNMI is not a good stepping stone. It was never meant to be.

Anonymous said...

By any means move on. Let the employers of the NMI see if they can cheat workers under federal law. Let them see that their greed killed their workforce who will say adios NMI I won't take it anymore! If the NMI doesn't support green cards for the good workers they have now it'll be alot sooner than 2014 that the foreign workers are reduced to zero!!!

Anonymous said...

By any means move on. Let the employers of the NMI see if they can cheat workers under federal law. Let them see that their greed killed their workforce who will say adios NMI I won't take it anymore!

Federal labor law has applied in the CNMI since 1978. Why would you expect anything to change? Is DoL going to finally station a lawyer in the CNMI?

If you are truly a victim of labor abuse, and your current job isn't enough to somewhat recoup your losses from those crooked employers, there is little reason to stay.

The CNMI still has many very good employers.

But thank goodness for the USAO, who on Guam are prosecuting the Blue House forced prostitution (under federal immigration law since 1950).

See Erin Thompson, “Club owner denies prostitution,” Pacific Daily News, Tuesday, February 15, 2011, available at http://www.guampdn.com/article/20110215/NEWS01/102150320/Club-owner-denies-prostitution.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Guam, the expected military build-up there isn't looking likely to be the immediate solution to their (or the CNMI's) economic woes.

One more reason to say, “Adios, Taotao Marianas!”

See Brett Kelman, “Buildup faces $321M cut: House GOP proposal part of $61 billion reduction,” Pacific Daily News, Tuesday, February 15, 2011, available at http://www.guampdn.com/article/20110215/NEWS01/102150321/Buildup-faces-321M-cut-House-GOP-proposal-part-of-61-billion-reduction.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 4:54

You say the CNMI Legislature is listening? To whom? What is the difference if the proposal is called FAS status or re-labeled to be called CNMI-Only Status? It is still a proposal/request to our United States Congress asking them to take a huge step backwards in democracy and support disenfranchisement rather than apply consistent U.S. immigration status, which would be a green card and pathway to citizenship. If it is a proposal meant to be a temporary status until the U.S. Congress stops the political partisan games and legislates green cards and a pathway to U.S. citizenship for the long-term foreign workers, then maybe it would be good news.

Democracy should progress, not regress. That's why we have the 15th and 19th amendments in our U.S. Constitution. One reason why PL 110-229 was written was to "extend US immigration laws to the CNMI." If that were to be followed then the legal long term foreign workers (5 or more years) would be granted green cards and a pathway to citizenship, not some un-American and un-democratic status that continues their existence as a voiceless underclass in a two-tiered society.

From the DOI report: "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 period of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States."

About the provision in reducing the foreign workers to zero by 2014. I believe that the provision implied that the legal long term workers currently living and working in the CNMI would be given green cards before 2014, becoming permanent U.S. residents and future citizens and would no longer classified as "foreign workers". Thus the zero -no need for foreign workforce if there were enough residents to fill the jobs.

The day the U.S. Congress rejects one consistent immigration law and starts making separate ones for states and territories that promote taxation without representation will be a very sad day in U.S. history indeed. I don't see it happening. What the CNMI wants is not always what the American people want or what the U.S. Congress wants. The intent of the law should be followed.

Anonymous said...

In regards to the "turn around" withing the NMI legislatures about the FAS status plan that they are going to rename.
"If it walks, talks, and quacks like a Duck........."

Why do these elected spend so much time on these non binding legislation than on fixing the NMI???
Seems they do not understand about anything, let alone priority.

Anonymous said...

11:01 YOU ARE RIGHT! What's in a name. Here are some other suggestions No Voice for You Status, Taxation Without Representation Status, I Wouldn't Want It But It's Good Enough For You Status.

Green Cards for All! said...

Bota Kilili/Tina for Governor/Lt.Governor in 2014.

Anonymous said...

Why on earth would anyone support Kilili for Governor - he did not have the backbone to provide improved status to at least some of the aliens last session. Instead out of fear of losing the votes of "my people" as he refers to his NMD constitutents as if the rest of us are just here to give money and provide ideas, he pulled already negotiated and agreed upon language that the staffers from both houses and parties were going to push through in the Submerged Lands Act. He is a coward. Plus he put forward the names of two more of "his people" for US District Court Judge one of whom was Chief Justice Demapan - are you kidding? Who in the CNMI would not know that this man does not possess the ethical qualities to even be sitting on the CNMI bench let alone be a Federal judge. Yeah, he's smart enough to get elected by putting his name on every bill that might get money to the CNMI and then claiming that he did it. His focus of $$$$ to PSS also made sure of the votes of hundreds of happy parents. What about the other problems facing the CNMI?

Where was he during the labor and immigration abuses, where was he when the garment industry was allowed to set up here despite the fact that everyone knew that the industry would only have a twenty year run and was an industry that not only relied on cheap foreign labor but also extracted great costs from the fragile environment and infrastructure of the island? He was no where except doing meth!

Tina for Governor! Her running mate can be decided later but NEVER EVER Kilili the weak.

Anonymous said...

11:50 Well said. If Kilili cared more about the CNMI than getting reelected, the status issue could have been settled in his first term.

Anonymous said...

Kilili is a generally good guy, who does play his political cards a little more carefully than Tina. He lacks Tina's passion and fortitude. But that is part of the political cardgame.

the scribe said...

Status, or lack thereof, can't be blamed on Kilili. He represents the people here and the people here are not for improved status. But even if the people here were for it, and even if Kilili waved the flag for it, it still is not their or his decision to make. The DOI supported it but it is not their decision to make either. It is a decision for the US Congress and the chances for improved status in the CNMI in the next five years, based on the current Congress and US economy, is zero.

Green Cards for All! said...

Kilili has something crucial that Tina lacks right now, electability.

Tina's run for senate showed that the CNMI is not yet ready for her style of politics, though the dirty tricks by ardent and outspoken supporters Glen Dale Hunter and Edwin Propst undoubtedly cost her many votes. Still, the fact that she was beaten out by Pete Reyes and Ralph Torres speaks for itself.

Kilili is known as a consumately fair person, the epitome of even-handedness during close to a decade as the Executive Director of the Election Commission. He is a nice guy, approachable, and above all, fair, even to those with whom he disagrees.

Can you imagine Tina Sablan being fair to Governor Fitial in the same way?

Tina was a model for a lot of virtues in her single term as a Congresswoman, but what did she actually get accomplished?

Being Governor is not a position where you can wave a magic wand and things will be changed. You need to obtain a consensus, which can be very difficult to obtain during these times of trouble, as we have seen.

For Tina to serve as Lt. Governor under Kilili would give her the opportunity to learn how the business of government really works from the inside, to get some experience actually doing things as opposed to talking about them or rallying against them, and also come to the realization that political lawsuits by lawyers of dubious skill are not what will save the CNMI.

After a term or two as Kilili's Lt. Governor, she will be more than ready to be in a position to actually accomplish some of the change she envisions for our Commonwealth.

While the CNMI's biggest problem might be the politics of envy, another problem is that everyone wants to start at the top.

There is no substitute for experience. Her work as a DEQ environmental specialist, waste reduction coordinator, science teacher, legislator, and now program manager for the Commonwealth Cancer Association are all good preparation for leading something as complex as the CNMI government. A term or two as Lt. Governor would be the capstone on that preparation.

Anonymous said...

CNMI traditional politicians are afraid that the future generations of leaders would comprise of a mixed race that would successfully run the government. Free of red tapes, free of racial discriminations and bend in correcting mistakes of the past administrations and its leaders. Glory be to God, if this happens soon!!!

Anonymous said...

9:49 - You don't really know what "dirty tricks" are. You confuse speaking out, speaking forcefully and speaking honestly, with "dirty tricks". Reyes, Torres, Iguel, Tenorio and rest of them are elected because of the size of their families, and for no other reason.