Fitial Spin:Deport 3,000 Illegals

March 30, 2011

Governor Fitial announced that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Attorney General Office are working to deport 3,000 (really?) illegals.

I guess that it is appropriate that an announcement is made stating that the OAG is "working" since it seems that they have not been "working" to arrest the former police officer who beat a foreign worker, or to charge the man that threatened to kill a nonresident and his family, or to convict the hundreds of criminal employers who have stolen millions of dollars in wages from the nonresident workers.

The question is how can there suddenly be 3,000 "illegals" in the CNMI?  Are these nonresidents who have umbrella permits, but refused to report to the CNMI Department of Labor since they do not have to? Nonresidents who were given "umbrella" permits and have since lost their jobs are not illegal under federal law. So who are these 3,000 people? Let's see a list.

 Fitial claims that "ICE enforcement and removal operation executive associate director Gary Mead assured him that federal law will be enforced in the CNMI." (Duh.)

The Marianas Variety quoted Fitial:
ICE, Fitial noted, is doing a very good job in deporting aliens who commit crimes, “but they are not doing anything about the overstaying aliens.”

Mead, the governor said, is now dealing with the AGO on a daily basis. Some of the things they are discussing may not be for public consumption, Fitial added, but these have something to do with “illegals.”
Not for public consumption? That suggests something secretive behind closed doors.

The governor was also quoted as saying that there are laws against harboring illegal aliens.  That ugly threat has been used in the CNMI for decades. In fact, some seedy CNMI "leaders" threatened me and my husband repeatedly with that phrase. Again, if a person has a valid umbrella permit, whether employed or not, they are legally in the CNMI until November 27, 2011.

From the USCIS Questions and Answers: (emphasis added)
Q. Can an umbrella permit be extended or revoked?
A. Umbrella permits are valid through Nov. 27, 2011; the maximum period of time permitted by Federal law, and cannot be extended. An employee will need another work authorization under Federal law to continue to work after that date. Even if CNMI authorities revoke a holder’s umbrella permit, the holder remains authorized to work under Federal law until Nov. 27, 2011.

 Mead and other ICE officials should know that a nonresident with a valid umbrella permit is not "illegal" and cannot be deported according to USCIS. 

Before the transition period began on November 28, 2009, the CNMI government issued "umbrella permits" to the foreign contract workers and all categories of aliens in the CNMI. The "umbrella permits" allowed aliens who were in the Commonwealth before the transition period to remain legally in the CNMI for the two year maximum allowed under the CNRA or until November 27, 2011. The CNMI government stated that these permits would provide security and stability for the foreigners including the contract workers, investors, long-term business owners, immediate relatives of nonresidents, and students for the stated two-year period.

The “umbrella permits” are regarded as evidence of lawful presence and authorization to work under CNMI laws, and the federal government recognizes these permits as an extension of the expiration date of those who have CNMI-issued entry permits. Therefore, according to the federal government, all aliens who were issued an umbrella permit may remain in the CNMI and may work in the CNMI until November 27, 2011.

The Federal and CNMI governments have conflicting opinions on the conditions and authority of these "umbrella permits." The CNMI government claims that the CNRA only preempted the admission and removal of aliens, but not internal matters including alien workers' ability to work in the CNMI. The CNMI government argues that the "umbrella permits" were issued under the CNMI’s ongoing authority over the terms and conditions of employment of foreign workers in the CNMI. The CNMI Department of Labor, which has been a corrupt and negligent body regarding rights of the foreign contract workers, claims that it maintains authority and control over the “umbrella permits,” including the right to revoke them for a violation of any conditions that it may impose for maintaining valid permits.

The federal government (USCIS and ICE), regards these permits as evidence of lawful presence, and has stated that pursuant to the CNRA, holders of "umbrella permits" may reside in the CNMI until the expiration of the permit on November 27, 2011, even if the CNMI government has revoked the permit. It is unclear what the CNMI government would do after revoking a permit because it no longer has the authority to remove any foreigner.

The power struggle between the CNMI and federal governments escalated with the passage of CNMI law, P.L. 17-1. On March 22, 2010, the Immigration Conformity Act of 2010 amended P.L. 15-108, the Commonwealth Employment Act of 2007, and on June 1, 2010 CNMI P.L. 17-1, the Employment Rules and Regulations (ERR) went into effect. Human rights advocates, foreign contract workers and attorneys have opposed provisions within the laws that deny foreign contract workers constitutional rights. The laws are also in conflict with P.L. 110-229, the CNRA, which authorizes a federally administered CNMI-only guest worker program and applies U.S. immigration law to the CNMI.

Provisions of P.L. 17-1 give authority to the CNMI government to revoke “umbrella permits,” which are recognized by the USCIS and federal government as valid permits under federal law until November 27, 2011. So much unnecessary conflict could be resolved by not renewing these controversial permits as Fitial proposes.

Fitial was also quoted as saying that U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis will determine whether or not to extend the "umbrella" permits. I say not.  If the CNMI seriously believes that it needs a foreign workforce, then they should be given green cards and a pathway to citizenship, and not a renewal of the controversial "umbrella" permit. Enough with the indentured servitude and broken system that just perpetuates abuses such as failure to pay workers their rightful pay.


Anonymous said...

"Not for public consumption" undoubtedly means DHS, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Detention and Removal Operations (DRO).

Harboring an illegal alien is now a federal felony offense, not merely a CNMI "crime" that was seldom, if ever, enforced.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for power struggles between the CNMI and the Federal Government or anyone vs the Federal Government. That's what our Constitution demands, that is our duty.

Now, Federal Immigration Law will prevail in the CNMI. Isn't this what you wanted? CWs to zero. That is the law. That is Federal Law. Deal with it Wendy.

Anonymous said...

GOOD DAY TO ALL!!! I am a non-resident worker for 20 years now. I am thankful that I am given the chance to work, live and interact with different nationalities here in the CNMI. Most of the friends and non-residents workers I spoke with are ready to go home in case our fate would lead to that situation. If it will happen I would like to call on all affected and not affected non-resident workers to have an "non-resident workers' thanksgiving and appreciation month or week" before November 27, 2011 at a place where the government or private entity allows us to camp-out or stay. We can meet, greet and eat and even take pictures of our friends, employers, ex-girlfriends/boyfriends, etc and share stories and experiences for the last time in the CNMI. We can have public officials, organization leaders, present and formers employers etc as guest speakers and also have live bands playing nightly while selling excess baggage at a discount daytime or nighttime. This is a way to earn extra monies and get rid of unwanted stuff. We can think of many things like a farewell cultural presentations for all. We can ask our employers to donate for our raffle prizes that would cost $1.00 and award the proceeds to those very needy ones, at least they will bring home some money. Please help me out on this one and explore this idea. We must leave this place with happy faces and good memories. There is no need to be hopeful for the impossibles but prayerful that God will lead us to where He wanted us to be. Ms. Wendy, if we do the above, are we going to violate CNMI or Federal laws? Do you agree with this? If not, please do not publish. I honestly want to be with many people I know or with new friends before going back to Philippines. If may also open business opportunities during discussions and interactions. Of course everybody is welcome to join.

Anonymous said...

Since the employee "cap" has supposedly been lifted for Guam and the NMI,in lieu of any regs concerning these workers before Nov., it would be most likely for the workers employers to be able to obtain a type of "work Visa" for them to remain in the NMI until a permanent decision by the Feds is made on wages and status.
I could not imagine any Fed. agency allowing any type extension of ANY NMI existing rules or regs. partly due in fact from the past acts that this Govt. attempted to construe along with the many past uncooperative and illegal activities from the NMI Govt. that are too murmurous to mention.

An extension of this Umbrella Permit would in effect promote the continuing illegal business' along with the many activities and labor abuses past and present rampant in the private and Govt. sector in the NMI.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 2:40

Do you read this blog or are you just some discontent wise guy wanting to spout off some more spin and bs to further confuse the situation? The legislation states that guest workers would be reduced to zero meaning that those who were given STATUS would no longer be guest workers. Deal with it.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 2:22

How do you know what it means? Anyone with an umbrella permit is NOT illegal. Whose interpretation of "illegal" should people go by? That of Governor Fitial and the other xenophobic CNMI leaders or the federal government's? You cannot be arrested for harboring an illegal if you do not know the person is illegal. Let's see a list of these so-called illegals!

Anonymous said...

...and you can't be arrested for harboring an illegal if the OCW isn't even illegal. The CNMI doesn't rule immigration. I agree the AG should be arresting some known criminals and also pay attention to robberies of tourists. What a loser agency. CNMI stands for Criminals Never Meet Indictments. At least if the criminals are locals and the victims are OCWs. A Federal civil rights investigation is long overdue here!

the teacher said...

I don't understand why the Governor created the umbrella permit, seeks to extend it, and now boasts he is "after" illegals unless it is pure politics for his party. Tell the local voter he is helping them all while he is trying to keep small foreign owned businesses cheap labor. I suspect he wants CGWs to remain but under the ol handcuffed status quo position. I don't think the US will allow umbrellas to be extended and I suspect at least 10k people will be without an employer or work authorization after November.

Anonymous said...

I fell sure there are at least 1,000 real illegals in the CNMI. I am talking about folks that have simply slipped through the cracks over the years. The CW's with umbrella permits are not illegals.
In the same vein, when the USA took over immigration they also have to deal with the CW's. One one side it would be a bit "Un-American" to deport folks that have been here for a while. After all, they were here when you decided to take over. On the other hand, there is no presumption that the USA has to give these folks any improved status to move to the USA. They might anyway, but if you believe that the CW's are "owed" something by somebody, that somebody would be the CNMI, not the USA, as it was under their watch this mess occured. But why shouldn't the CW's feel they are entitled to Green Cards and everything else that America provides? We have been such an entitlement nation (Dems propogate, but Repubs agree with)that we are losing our sense of what made our country great

Anonymous said...


Every time you agree to meet with our crooked governor on one of his junkets to D.C., you will have to live down news coverage of whatever lies he cooks up about his meetings with you. "DHS is going to allow us to administer the CW worker program"; "DHS is working closely with us on illegals"; "DHS is going to allow us to extend the umbrella permits"; "Janet Napolitano is my good friend"; "DHS is now going after overstayers".

Are we learning yet?

Anonymous said...

Months ago, USCIS promised they would have their repeatedly delayed CW regulations out by March 2011.

That self-imposed deadline has come and gone. Another federal obligation unfulfilled.

Federalization is turning into one big April Fool's joke, with the poor contract workers bearing the brunt of the harm.

The economic future of the CNMI is looking very dim indeed. I suspect Japan will seek to postpone any Guam build-up funding, too.

R Misulich said...

As long as the guest worker has an umbrella permit issued before the CNRA came into force and has not committed a deportable offense, there is no legal basis for deportation. A guest worker who has such an umbrella permit cannot be considered an "overstayer," at least until November 28, 2011 under the current law.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that anon 11:55 is really concerned over the "poor contract workers." In reality, he or she is only feigning concern over contract workers to try a little revisionist history in the making, i.e., the "poor contract workers were the victims of federalization" theme. Nobody buys this BS! Under the federal system, just like under the local system, if you don't have a job, you have to go home. Contract workers came for a limited time as long as there was work for them; nobody promised permanent residency in the CNMI or the U.S., no matter how many times the contract was extended. So the "poor contract workers" who cannot find jobs would have gone home eventually under either system. The only difference is that the local DOL was so inept and corrupt that it never actually enforced the law, while the feds will.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 1:31 You said, "Contract workers came for a limited time as long as there was work for them; nobody promised permanent residency in the CNMI or the U.S., no matter how many times the contract was extended. So the "poor contract workers" who cannot find jobs would have gone home eventually under either system."

Several points. First, under the federal system there is a set period of time a contract worker can stay and then he/she returns or after so many years becomes is eligible to get a green card. Under the CNMI system the constant renewals resulted in it making it extremely difficult for the contract workers to go "home" since after decades they no longer call their country of birth their "home", have severed all ties, and have no future back "home". Many have US citizen children and they can not take them "home".

Also, under the CNMI system the workers were cheated and abused while the abusive-criminal employers walked. Their contracts were and are routinely violated. They should not be sent "home" or anywhere until they are given every penny that they are owed. The CNMI government is evil to have allowed employers to pocket millions of dollars of workers' money, while the "leaders" always attack the innocent foreign workers. Fitial claiming there are 3,000 illegals is an example. Not one nonresident worker should ever leave the CNMI without an exit interview and statement of how much they are owed and what criminal acts were committed against him/her during their stay in the CNMI. I have much of the documentation and the ombudsman has the unpaid administrative orders also. The employers or the CNMI government must make this right. Reparations and green cards are due to the long-term nonresident workers.

Anonymous said...

Do you have the Exit Interview and Statement pre filled forms linked here? Always scamming something. Pay and fill out your forms for status or prepare to leave in November. How hard can that be?