July 14, 2011
The hearing of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs was not unlike most that I have attended with government bureaucrats and elected officials pushing their political agendas. Hearings should be held to collect information to use in analyzing a problem in order to come up with the best solution, but too often they are staged to support an already agreed upon position that a member or members of the committee supports. Maybe not so much for the part of the hearing that focused on P.L. 110-229 and DHS, but definitely the discussion on H.R. 1466 was carefully orchestrated.
The most blaring observation made at this hearing (and all of the House hearings that have been held in Washington, DC since 1999 to address issues related to CNMI immigration and nonresident worker issues) is that there was a conspicuous absence of any advocate or representative from the nonresident worker community on the witness panel. Even though the nonresidents make up an estimated 80 to 90% of the private sector workforce and a majority of the CNMI's adult population, their voice at the hearing will remain silent except for written testimony. This fact diminishes the credibility of this hearing and any other hearing where issues regarding the nonresidents are discussed and no nonresident workers are invited to testify. It suggests that members of the subcommittee regard the legal nonresident workers as labor units rather than as the essential de facto citizens that they are. It minimizes their importance and vital contributions. It marginalizes their humanity.
|A packed hearing W. L. Doromal ©2011|
P.L. 110-229, To authorize certain programs and activities in the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, and the Department of Energy, to implement further the Act approving the Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America, to amend the Compact of Free Association Amendments Act of 2003, and for other purposes. "Consolidated Natural Resources Act."
H.R. 1466 (Sablan), To resolve the status of certain persons legally residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the immigration laws of the United States.
|Hazel Doctor speaking by video conference, W. L. Doromal ©2011|
|Congressman Sablan, W. L. Doromal ©2011|
Also, never mentioned in the bill is the fact that CNMI-only status restricts travel and employment, and chains those upgraded workers to the CNMI. Legally admitted aliens in the mainland are free to travel, as many migrant farmers do when they follow the crops and seasons.
|Governor Fitial watches the testimony of Hazel Doctor, W. L. Doromal ©2011|
Regarding H.R. 1466, DOI's Nikolao Pula stated that the status in the bill "was consistent with the DOI report." I find that statement extremely perplexing. Where in the CNRA or the DOI report did it separate the legal, nonresident workers into two categories: those with a U.S. citizen spouse or child who should be considered to receive an upgraded status (an unacceptable upgraded status at that) and those without a U.S. citizen spouse or child who are totally ignored and left out of consideration? Where in the DOI report was a restrictive and limited CNMI-only status ever mentioned? If we are to believe that this bill is only a "stop gap" bill to protect some families then why is the DOI report even mentioned? The DOI report was mandated to report on and make recommendations on the status of all legal, long-term nonresident workers, not some only. It is not consistent with the DOI report.
I will be writing once again to President Obama to ask exactly where his Administration stands on this bill and this issue. If you read what our President has said about immigration reform and granting a pathway to citizenship to the undocumented aliens, then how could he not support permanent residency status for all of the legal, long-term nonresident workers of the CNMI? There are just too many conflicting positions within the Obama Administration and with those members of Congress who are known as champions of immigration reform who co-sponsored this bill.
Congressman Gregorio Sablan emphasized that H.R. 1466 was not part of the national debate. I am fairly certain that most members of the U.S. Congress know the difference between an illegal and legal alien. The controversy in the national debate is about illegal aliens. Despite the fact that Fitial claimed that there are over 3,000 illegals in the CNMI, I have been informed that this is not true. He considers those legal aliens who have lost their jobs and remain legally in the CNMI, and those pursuing court or labor cases to be illegal.
Congressman Sablan was asked to commit to the statement that only 4,000 aliens would actually receive the upgraded status. He confirmed that figure. That means that out of an estimated 16,000 legal, nonresident workers only 1/4 would be covered by this bill. The vast majority of the legal, long-term nonresident workers would be thrown under the bus! Since Sablan's bill excludes about four times as many legal long-term nonresidents as it includes, I am fairly certain that he works to separate the CNMI debate from the "national" debate not to distinguish between illegal and legal aliens, but to stress that the CNMI has "special circumstances," as Governor Fitial and others have stated repeatedly over the years. CNMI politicians stress that the CNMI should have "special" circumstances" so that they can get away with doing things to the legal aliens that could never be done in the states. Things like proposing a CNMI-only status. (Do you see, or want to see a Florida-only, California-only or Arizona-only status?) Things like restricting travel. Things like not granting permanent residency to legal nonresident workers who have lived and worked in the USA for 5, 10, 20, 30 or more years consecutively. Things like placing discriminatory restrictions based such as marital status and procreation in the qualifications. Things like keeping thousands of de facto citizens perpetually disenfranchised and denied of basic rights. If this bill passes that will be with the blessing of a sadly misinformed Congress that has abandoned basic American principles and ideals.
|Rep. Don Young, W. L. Doromal ©2011|
- It is very discriminatory and exclusive because it deliberately excludes every equally deserving legal, long-term nonresident worker who is not the spouse or parent of a U.S. citizen;
- It creates a new CNMI-only status that is outside of the INA setting a dangerous precedent;
- It conflicts with the intent of the CNRA, which intended to have the CNMI conform to U.S. immigration laws;
- It chains the workers to the CNMI to continue the disenfranchised underclass that was born out of the corrupt CNMI system, which in turn will continue abuses and injustice;
- It conflicts with the principles and ideals upon which our country was founded in that it creates a two-tiered society of haves and have nots, privileged and unprivileged, those with rights and those that are oppressed;
- It could result in the exodus of thousands of legal workers, when they make up 80 to 90% of the private workforce and the CNMI claims to need them.
|W. L. Doromal ©2011|
I am submitting my 20-page written testimony and attachments as formal written testimony to the subcommittee by certified mail and I will also be sending it electronically. Included with my testimony is a law journal article by Rob Misulich that argues for permanent residency and a pathway to citizen for the legal nonresidents; a statement from the United Workers Movement-NMI; and letters from the nonresident workers and their children.
Written testimony is accepted up to ten working days after the date of the hearing. It is not too late for the nonresident workers to submit their views.
The United Workers Movement sponsored a gathering of about 50 people who watched the hearing.
Read the testimony: