Some Thoughts on Status

April 25, 2011

H.R. 1466

Congressman Sablan's bill, H.R. 1466 has yet to be reviewed by the Fitial Administration according to his press secretary, Angel Demapan. That is unbelievable. For an Administration so opinionated and anti-worker that they sponsored rallies and motorcades, against federalization and status, we should believe that no one read the bill. Really? Well, here is the link to the bill. It's very short and can be read in less than 10 minutes.

I am sure that the governor and others have read the proposed legislation.  More likely they have not commented because they have to wait for Deanne Seimer to ghost write their response to it, and she is currently very busy attacking the Federal Ombudsman's Office.

I discussed the bill with some colleagues to try to get a neutral perspective, and some of their comments were enlightening.

One person questioned, "How can a bill provide status for those who produce U.S. citizen children? What about people who are infertile or medically unable to have children? Why are they being punished for not having children?"

Another colleague agreed it was improper to propose a sub-class that promoted disenfranchisement for long-term workers who would not be able to vote or travel to the U.S. without a visa. They asked if the logic was to try to keep the workers in the islands to work, but not to advance as full citizens.

They also agreed with the comparison to apartheid since there are voting and travel restrictions.


a·part·heid (-pärtht, -ht)
1. An official policy of racial segregation formerly practiced in the Republic of South Africa, involving political, legal, and economic discrimination against nonwhites.
2. A policy or practice of separating or segregating groups.
3. The condition of being separated from others; segregation.

The crime of apartheid as defined by international law includes in part this statement: "Any legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups.

It is my belief that this sub-class, (FAS-type status) more resembles the principles of segregation and an apartheid-type status than democratic American principles. (See also this post.)

An in-depth analysis on CNMI immigration status for legal long-term workers by Robert J. Misulich stands as another important voice in urging the United States Congress to right the wrongs of the flawed CNRA that excluded the provision for permanent status for the long-term CNMI guest workers.

Rob Misulich, a J.D. Candidate at the University of Washington, wrote an article for the Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal Association entitled, A Lesser-Known Immigration Crisis: Federal Immigration Law in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. It was published in January 2011. This well-researched and well-written article analyzes the provisions of CNRA, and actions and inactions of Congress and the DHS. It makes a strong and clear argument for Congress to pass additional legislation granting permanent resident status to long-term CNMI guest workers.

Read it here:

Political Status of Guam and CNMI
Then there is the question of political status of the CNMI and Guam that is always up for review by elected officials including CNMI's Rep. Stanley Torres and Guam's self-determination supporter, Senator Judy Guthertz.

In March 2011, Rep. Torres introduced House Bill 17-7 that proposed to "create a commission that will revisit the Covenant and look at an 'alternative' political and economic status for the islands."

Guthertz introduced a bill in Guam calling for a non-binding plebiscite on reunification of the CNMI and Guam.

The Guam Senator said that Rep. Joseph Palacios wanted to introduce similar legislation in the CNMI, according to the Marianas Variety.

Some CNMI officials views were reported in the Saipan Tribune.

It is interesting that both Guam and CNMI officials' discussions center on the residents' opinions, and omit that such a discussion should include the views of those who fund both the CNMI and Guam -- the American taxpayers.


Anonymous said...

I can't decide if Kilili's bill is an act of cowardice on the part of the delegate or an act to please some of the voters and some of the aliens. At any rate,most are very disappointed.

Green Cards for All! said...

Most? Most CWs with kids born here before 8 May 2008 are ecstatic!

Now they won't have to raise their children "back home" and can remain in the CNMI until the oldest child turns 21 (and the family earns enough money for a green card). If they never earn enough, they can still stay here.

Yes, those who were married before their deployment here and stayed true to their vows, and those single who practiced laudable pre-marital chastity, are getting the short end of the stick.

But who ever said federalization would be fair and equitable? Step by step.

Maybe we can help them later. Rome wasn't built in a day.

And no, Wendy, if it passes this legislation will not be held unconstitutional by any court in the land. Over no other subject does Congress have as much discretion as immigration, implicating as it does the plenary foreign affairs and national defense powers.

It might not seem "fair" to you or many, and certainly is not calculated to promote and advance sexual morality, virtue, and respect for women. But how much is that really respected anymore in America, Hollywood, or Saipan?

We will see who steps up to oppose it.

Yes, I'd favor a "clean" fix for the "stateless" and "1978-81 CNMI Permanent Residents" and their families, but Kilili was feeling generous.

Maybe the rest will get theirs later. Or would you prefer sending the kids' parents home first?

It is too bad we don't really have any idea about the numbers of who fits into what category, because Ombudsman Pamela S. Brown destroyed the records.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you.

Anonymous said...

no i don't agree with you!

Wendy said...

Green Cards for All:

Such an ironic name for a person who actually opposes green cards for all.

The "rest" (including many who worked and lived in the CNMI longer than the qualifying category of long-term nonresidents that is restricted to those with a U.S citizen spouse or child), are anything but ecstatic. They know that there will be no "next time" because there never is. Hollow promises to single nonresidents, childless nonresidents or those who have foreign children are meaningless. Those nonresidents who were purposelessly and thoughtlessly left out of this bill are doomed if this bill passes. They will be forced to exit and will never see another bill for themselves or their families waiting patiently back home. The bill should propose status for all LEGAL nonresidents, not just selected ones.

For me to not oppose this bill would be wrong on many levels. No one is opposed to those in the categories mentioned in Congressman Sablan's bill being granted status; people are opposed to categories of equally deserving (or in many cases, more equally deserving) nonresident workers being excluded. Those advocates, like myself who have fought for years for status for the legal, long-term workers, cannot be ecstatic at this faulty bill. It would be like asking a mother to be ecstatic and celebrate that the firemen rescued two of her 6 children from a burning house while the rest perished. This is no time to celebrate or to be ecstatic. It is a time to act to persuade change before it's too late for the "rest."

The proposed sub-category is very troublesome also because it will set a precedent. Once established it will stick just like the CNMI permanent resident status stuck for decades for these overlooked people. Still, under this horrible bill, nonresidents will not get green cards! CNMI status is merely an extension of the former poisonous CNMI-run labor system. It does nothing to advance these people. It just keeps them in purgatory, chained to the CNMI to work and carry on as second class citizens. They will remain politically, socially and economically disadvantaged. Ecstatic at this un-American, undemocratic, unjust, backwards proposed bill. Never.

Let's be honest. This bill protects the corrupt machine in the CNMI as much as it protects selected families. No green card means no eventual pathway to U.S. citizenship and that means permanent DISENFRANCHISEMENT! We are stepping backwards as a nation if this bill passes.

I have already spoken to some human rights groups. They were also stunned by this dangerous and insensitive bill. Yes, you will see who opposes it and who works to change it to include ALL deserving legal, nonresidents to be granted green cards and a pathway to citizenship.

I know who you are. Your sour grapes with Pam is getting old and is unproductive.

Anonymous said...

You don't say real reason for small category that gets a break in the bill. The discrimination and racism isn't just about whose married or has kids. It's worse. It's about cleaning out the island of Muslim Bangladeshis.Only a couple Bangladeshi families are in Saipan. The rest are single men who support families back home. How easy to just include every one alien worker who was legal November 28, 2009. This is reason this categorys left out.

Wendy said...

Anonymous 10:01

I do not think that religious discrimination comes into play here. However, it would be very simple to include ALL legal nonresident workers. To select by marital and reproductive status IS discriminatory regardless of what those who introduced and co-sponsored this legislation claim. The real question is not why categories were included but why were others excluded?

Anonymous said...

I think the reason is simple and natural. Kilili wants to be reelected, then just follow local style - nepotism which can extend to different ties of kinship or friendship. From this bill,Kilili will create new connections to new kinship families and new friends through old kinship and friends. No body can stop this traditional, favorable, corrupt way for election.

Anonymous said...

Wendy 8:57 Very eloquently expressed from the heart and so true.

Green Cards for All! said...

I have not the slightest personal animus against Pam, who is an attorney of the highest caliber going back to Washington State, CNMI government, outstanding work at the Senate, private practice, Governor's Legal Counsel, AG, and of course as Ombudsman. She is truly dedicated to the welfare of her clients and the guest workers.

Disagreement with particular actions, such as destruction of the Guest Worker registration census, or how that data was characterized (i.e., everyone over five years lumped together) does not constitute any disparagement of her professionally or personally -- she is a marvelous person! There is certainly no reason for "sour grapes".

As for this lawsuit by Teresa Kim, I've read her Opposition to the Motion for Summary Judgment and look forward to reading Interior's Reply, and the eventual court decision.

One thing to be mindful of, is that when readers comment on your blog, they are not always expressing hard personal viewpoints, but may be raising issues for discussion. If I hadn't posted, you wouldn't have penned the well-written 8:57 response.

As Attorney Stephen C. Woodruff has noted, there are many layers of meaning in the following expression:

“Federalization: You asked for it; you got it.”

Anonymous said...

It's wrong to give select aliens only status and not others who have worked in the CNMI longer.Do the right thing. Give the legals green cards and stop the bs. I saw Sablan on tv and what a politician.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

GCFA may be correct. Don't call it sour grapes. Many attorneys on Saipan competed for the ombudsman position and Pam got selected. Call it jealousy.

Anonymous said...

GCFA and we should care what Stephen has to say because??????

the teacher said...

I didn’t like this bill at first and have always opposed CNMI residency, but after consideration I support this bill. I had reservations because it intentionally creates a group of legal second class residents in America and it discriminates against those who didn’t have US citizen children, which still may be unconstitutional l. It does forever guarantee that we keep our US citizen children here and their parents will not likely ever be deported. So I support this legislation and applaud Kilili for introducing this immigration legislation. He will be considered courageous on both sides of the fence in Washington and highly respected as a master politician if he can get this passed. This shows leadership as well because historically politicians throw their allegiance to the wind of popularity and this bill is not popular in the CNMI. Unaffected CWs don’t like it and many US citizens hate it. There are other positive aspects too, as the 93 stateless persons are long overdue for justice and long-time workers are now protected if they have children, if they have a sponsoring employer, and de-facto protected against deportation in the same manner as millions of other in the US. All things considered, this is a win for workers and a win for citizens of the commonwealth. Hopefully no one anywhere wants to deport US citizen children that have no other home to the third world and perhaps this legislation can be a model for US immigration reform?

Anonymous said...

I am going to guess that the teacher is being sarcastic and really hates the bill. No one can drink that much kool-aid!

Anonymous said...

“Soweto! Soweto! Say ‘No’ to apartheid, say ‘No!’”