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."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.
"What will happen if overnight, some testified, newly minted citizens represent a voting majority?"
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.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:
“Go ahead and give them a pathway to U.S. citizenship,” he said.
Former Rep. Tina Sablan, in her testimony, asked, “What is it that some of us are so afraid of?”The report also failed to include this testimony.
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.”
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.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.
As it is written, the dishonorable draft report mocks the purpose of a public hearing and is a slap in the face to democracy.