Of interest: CNMI News Bites

March 13, 2011

Congressman Sablan Ranking Member of House Subcommittee
Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan was elected by his fellow Democratic committee members to be the ranking member on the 16-member House Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs Subcommittee of the House Committee on Natural Resources.

The Saipan Tribune reports:
“This is a remarkable opportunity to advance the interests of our islands. Insular area issues have traditionally been handled in a very bipartisan manner in Congress,” Sablan said.

Sablan's election as subcommittee ranking member comes as he is set to meet with CNMI senators this week in Washington, D.C. to help them personally hand over to other key members of Congress the CNMI Senate recommendation to Congress to grant improved immigration status to long-term foreign workers in the CNMI.

The CNMI senators recommend granting foreign workers who have been in the CNMI at least 10 years as of May 2008 an immigration status similar to those given to Freely Associated States citizens.

Sablan said he has already met on several occasions this year with the subcommittee chairman, Rep. John Fleming (R-LA), “to talk about implementation of federal immigration and other issues of importance to the Northern Marianas.”

“Now that I have been selected to be the lead Democrat on the Subcommittee, I will work hard to build that relationship with the chairman so that together we can address the concerns of the Northern Marianas and all the insular areas. In addition to insular matters the Subcommittee has jurisdiction over national fisheries, wildlife, and oceans policies,” Sablan said.
I am sure that Congressman Sablan and other members of Congress will be meeting with many people concerning the status of the legal, long-term CNMI foreign contract workers. Aside from human rights and labor advocates and the majority of the CNMI nonresidents workers, some national NGOs are also opposing the apartheid-type FAS status proposal that has been endorsed by the CNMI legislators.

Congratulations to Congressman Sablan!

Great Editorial
Zaldy Dandan, editor of the Marianas Variety, wrote a piece entitled, Be who you are.  He eloquently pointed out some things that many of the CNMI elected "leaders" refuse to acknowledge:
  • There is a persistence in the CNMI for residents to play "victim" card. They are not victims;
  • That some residents of the CNMI want all of the privileges that come with U.S. citizenship, but none of the responsibilities;
  • That despite the fact that CNMI resident do not pay federal taxes, the CNMI receives a disproportionately high amount of federal aid in comparison with states that have higher populations. Still some "leaders" and residents believe they do not get enough federal funding. They falsely accuse the federal government of not giving them what they should have received as stated in the Covenant. 
  • The problems in the CNMI were created by the CNMI "leaders" that residents elected and re-elected over and over to make the same mistakes year after year.
  • The CNMI continues to receive millions in federal aid, even though the residents pay no federal taxes. The American taxpayers are funding the CNMI and yet the "leaders" attack the United States like it was a foreign government doing them harm.
  • The residents of the CNMI cannot vote for president because they are not living in a state. If they want to vote for president, as U.S. citizens they can move to a state. There is no "discrimination" in this law.
Zaldy hit the nail on the head.  He wrote:
The CNMI may be your home, but it is just part of your larger, so much bigger home: America, which was founded not on an identity based on creed or race, but on an idea. An idea of liberty and of a certainty that all humans are created equal and that they have the freedom to do what they have to do in the pursuit of happiness, as long as it does not infringe on anyone else’s rights.

You’re American. You have been provided with many opportunities to improve yourself and your community. You can get the know-how. You have the tools. Use them. Stop whining and complaining and blaming everyone else for the mess you created. You can fix it. You are the citizen of the world’s greatest nation. It’s time that you act like one.
CNMI PSS Noncompliant
The CNMI Public School System has been found noncompliant with federal standards regarding their special education program. For over a year NMPASI has protested the fact that a teacher has not been allowed to teach special education students at the CNMI’s Juvenile Detention Center.

The Saipan Tribune reports the following deficiencies in the local SPED program:
  • It has not made findings of noncompliance using all components of its monitoring system;

  • It has not ensured the timely correction of noncompliance when a written finding of noncompliance was not issued following the discovery of noncompliance; 

It has not also developed procedures for ensuring that juveniles with disabilities who are detained in juvenile correctional facilities receive special education and related services in accordance with their individualized education programs; 
  • and 

It does not have procedures to calculate state-level of financial support for the Part B program in the CNMI.
The PSS Special Education Program Coordinator Suzanne Lizama, claimed that the issues were “not serious” and were only a "heads-up" from the USDOE.  There are consequences for noncompliance with USDOE guidelines.  I am fairly certain if the PSS does not comply within a prescribed period of time, it could risk losing federal funding.


Anonymous said...

The CNMI is not part of the United States. You guys can say that all you want, but that will never make it true. It is in political union with the United States. That is not the same thing. I am not one to whine or complain about that, however, because it is, in fact, a better thing.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Kilili getting that post is a very big deal.

Even so, I find it mildly insulting that the United States lumps fish, deer, and indigenous people into one category.

Anonymous said...

Noni 6:25 Whatever. The NMI is a commonwealth of the US and IS part of the US. You are nuts!

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:25, what is your citizenship? passport? money?

It's not your money! said...

Hey, anon 6:25:

Perhaps this will help (Section 101 of the Covenant):

The Northern Mariana Islands upon termination of the Trusteeship Agreement will become a self-governing commonwealth to be known as the "Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands", in political union with and under the sovereignty of the United States of America.

"Under the sovereignty of the United States" sure sounds like "part of the U.S." to me.

Wendy said...

It's not your money:

Thank you! I just read that first article today when writing the above post and thought exactly the same thing. I keep rereading this Covenant and do not understand how they are interpreting it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymouses 11:32, 9:54, and 10:07:

This is good. Each of your arguments is an improvement on the previous one. You progress from the mindless ad hominem of "you are nuts" (11:32) to the superficially appealing but ultimately symbolic and inconclusive references to citizenship, passports, and money (9:54), to an actual cogent argument (10:07).

However, that argument has been rejected by the US Supreme Court, in a series of cases holding that the sovereignty of the US can include both places which are and places which are not part of the US. Only the states and places designated by Congress for future statehood are part of the US. Other places (which in those cases included Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Alaska, and Hawaii) may be under the sovereignty of the US, but are not part of it.

In other words, if to be under the sovereignty of the US was to be a part of it, the Philippines would never have become independent, and would be a state today.

Anonymous said...


Sovereignty means "supreme authority" over. The United States has "supreme authority" over the CNMI as a commonwealth of the US.

Anonymous said...

Does this shift to a different issue (the meaning of sovereignty) mean that the issue previously under discussion (whether the CNMI is part of the US) can be regarded as settled?

Anonymous said...

So Alaska and Hawaii are not part of the U.S.? Do the Alaskans and Hawaiians know?

Seriously, what Supreme Court case says that? Cases from before the Great Flood don't count!

Anonymous said...

They are called the Insular Cases. They were decided in the early 1900's, when this issue tended to come up a lot due to the US penchant for acquiring distant territories at that time. The key term used in the cases for becoming part of the US was "incorporation."

They held: Alaska was incorporated by treaty with Russia and act of Congress in 1868. Hawaii was NOT incorporated by annexation in 1898, but WAS incorporated by act of Congress in 1900. Puerto Rico and the Philippines were never incorporated at all. Finally, no other territory will be considered incorporated in the future unless Congress explicitly so provides.

Since then, Congress has never so provided, either as to the NMI or anywhere else -- Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Panama Canal Zone, the Trust Territory, occupied Iraq, Guantanamo Bay, Antarctica, the moon, etc. Thus, none of these places are part of the US.

Anonymous said...


1900? Could you ease into the current century? You say that the NMI is NOT "part" of the US to defend the rogue leaders' ridiculous demands for rights that are preempted by federal laws. The NMI is under the sovereignty of the United States. Federal law applies and federal money keeps the islands afloat. The privileges of the blue passport come with responsibilities. Stop the spin.

It's not your money! said...

And, since the CNMI's status is unique, by virtue of the Covenant (not a treaty), those insular cases determining status of other types of places with other histories and other agreements (some of which were definitely not negotiated with the indigenous people), would have little or no precedential value in determining whether the CNMI is part of the U.S. It is. The Covenant makes that clear.

Anonymous said...


I have said that the NMI is not part of the US. I have not used that fact either to defend anything or to attack anything. I have just tried to deal with and resolve the issue on its own terms. I suggest you do the same.

Also: 1900 is not so long ago. The current status of Guam, for example, dates from that time. The Insular Cases continue to be relied on as precedent by the Supreme Court in this century, such as in cases arising from Guantanamo Bay.

It's not your money:

Once again, you make the most sense.

You're right that the CNMI is unique. But then, each of the places noted above was also unique in its own way, as were other places, such as the American Sector of Berlin, Okinawa, etc. Each has its own historic and legal peculiarities that can distinguish it from each of the others.

There are many ways to be NOT part of the US. But there is only one way to part of it -- an express act of incorporation by Congress. Without that, an extension of sovereignty doesn't cut it.

If you can find an express act of incorporation in the Covenant, let me know, and I'll start making plans for our incipient statehood.

Anonymous said...

The Insular Cases remain good law. They were cited in the Nguyen case holding that the Article IV judges of the District Court of Guam and the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands (not "U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands," as Judge Munson pretentiously referred to it) may not serve on Article III appellate courts.

Anonymous said...

Ai Adai!

If you don't like US, then be on your own. Don't ask for assistance anymore, denounce your citizenship.

Anonymous said...

Where's all the hostility coming from, 8:46? I like the US. And the CNMI isn't part of it. Those two things have nothing to do with each other.

Anonymous said...

Zaldy's last point about not being able to vote for the President is not correct. It is discrimination. All Americans on American soil, state or otherwise, should be afforded the opportunity to vote for President. Discrimination is about exclusion. This is exclusion.

Anonymous said...

You're right about that, 7:59. I would add two more points:

1. It's not just the President. All of the people should be able to choose their own members of Congress as well. Voting members. In both houses.

2. If the people are not able to do participate in the selection of the national government, then their local government must be able to exercise the powers that would otherwise belong to the national government.

If neither of things is true, the people are not being governed by thier own representatives. The government is not, in fact, "their" government, and Zaldy is going to have a hard time convincing them otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Zaldy is a tendentious, pompous opinion leader who cannot even master the correct abbreviation for the Office of the Attorney General.

But he is indeed correct that states elect the President, not individuals. No discrimination there.

Anonymous said...

Well, it's true that Zaldy is pompous and tendentious, but that doesn't mean he's always wrong. Sometimes he hits the nail right on the head.

But not this time.

He's right, of course, that the states elect the president (at least they're supposed to -- Florida didn't get a chance one time). The states elect the Congress too.

But how does he get from that fact to his conclusion that there is "no discrimination?" In fact, it leads to the opposite conclusion -- that there IS discrimination -- constitutionally built-in discrimination -- in favor of the states and the people who live in them, and against those places that are within US sovereignty but are not states, and the people who live in them.

So to state that the states elect the President (and the Congress) does not prove that there is no problem, as Zaldy appears to think On the contrary, it is to state the essence of the problem itself.

Fortunately, it is not an insoluble problem.

Anonymous said...

There is NO discrimination. The territories don't even pay federal taxes. The CNMI has the population of a tiny US town and you want it to have a vote? BARHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Anonymous said...

The question is not who pays the taxes but who makes the laws. All the laws, not just the tax laws. Is the lawmaker answerable to the people or not? If not, any current tax benefits or other legal benefits from the situation are a matter of dumb luck. As such, they cannot be relied on. If immigration laws can be imposed today, why not tax laws tomorrow?

The small size of any given jurisdiction does not justify its exclusion from the political process. The people in all those tiny US towns all get to vote in federal elections. Besides, having more people doesn't necessarily help. Puerto Rico has more people than 20 states, but no more voice in federal laws than the CNMI.

I realize none of this is likely to mean much to someone who closes his comment with "BARHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!" but here it is, just in case anyone whose forms opinions on some basis other than a malicious glee of domination might be reading.

Wendy said...

I think every U.S. citizen should vote for President and every long-term resident should be given a green card with a direct pathway ti U.S. citizenship WITH the right to vote in local and federal elections.(Not FAS -type, apartheid-type status)

I do not believe the voting status of U.S. citizens in territories is related to the fact that they do not pay federal income tax. It was a law that was made at the beginning of the country's establishment. As people moved west, territories were established. When they became states then the residents could vote for president. It's an old system that should probably be changed. If territories do someday get the right to vote for president, then it is likely that territories will also pay federal income taxes.