H.R. 1466: Stepping back in time to a time that we want to forget

“No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream. –Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


H.R. 1466 takes our country back to a dishonorable and shameful time in our nation's history.  It is utterly amazing that members of the U.S. Congress who promote themselves as champions of immigration reform and advocate for undocumented aliens would support such unjust, un-American and undemocratic legislation.

The similarities between laws that were implemented after the Civil War and H.R. 1466 are striking. H.R. 1466 proposes to grant about 1/4 of the 16,000 legal, long-term nonresident workers a CNMI-only status.  No other state or territory has their own status under the INA, and for good reason.

The long-term foreign workers of the CNMI have been considered as labor units for decades.  Under H.R. 1466 they will remain as a disenfranchised underclass, as labor units chained to the CNMI. The discriminatory status would restrict travel and deny them of political, social and economic rights just as the post-Civil War Black Codes kept the freed slaves as second-class citizens unable to serve on juries, vote or hold public office. Under the Black Codes, some states forbid social mobility, prohibiting freed slaves from entering certain states. Similarly H.R. 1466 would prohibit the "freed" nonresident workers from entering the United States or leaving the CNMI.

The Black Codes were rooted in pre-Civil War slave laws, just like H.R. 1466 is rooted in the old CNMI labor and immigration system, which aimed to keep nonresident workers denied of political, social and economic rights. Under the Slave Codes, Black Codes, P.L. 17-1 and H.R.1466 people are viewed as labor units, instruments or tools to fuel the economy, rather than as human beings deserving of human and civil rights.

While we see the Obama Administration take a firm stand on issues of gay rights, the national immigration debate concerning undocumented aliens, the struggling economy and other issues, we certainly do not know where this Administration stands on the issue of providing a just and democratic status for the legal, nonresident workers of the CNMI. Absent from the discussion has been a concrete suggestion or position from the U.S. Department of Interior with one singular recommendation. The only response was this ineffectual remark from the testimony of Nikolao I. Pula, Jr. Director of the Office of Insular Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior who testified at that July 14, 2011 hearing:
H.R. 1466 is consistent with the Secretary’s report in that it would give long-term status to more than 5,000 of these persons.
Where in the DOI Report did it suggest that the U.S. Congress was to address only 1/4 of the 16,0000 nonresident workers!?

Would the Administration tell Congress to decide whatever it wants concerning undocumented aliens, tax cuts, or health care? Or to address the needs of only some Americans and exclude 3/4 of them? Never! Why then does this appear to be the case on this issue? The Administration is failing the long-sacrificing legal nonresident workers and should be held responsible for perpetuating their plight as much as the misguided U.S. Congress must be. How shameful that the Administration of our country's first elected African-American president, President Barack Obama, would suggest that it backs a law that reflects the same provisions of the Black Codes!

Usually democratic societies advance forward, but H.R. 1466 takes us back to a shameful time in our country's history when segregation and discrimination were legal. Stunning.

Related Posts:

Apartheid-Type Legislation X 2, March 31, 2012
H.R. 1466 Removed From House Calendar, December 15, 2011
Humanitarian Crisis Grows, November 4, 2011
As Focus is on Alabama, Immigration "Champions" Ignore the Plight of CNMI Foreign Workers, November 3, 2011
OCCUPY USICS Picking Up Steam, October 28, 2011
Congressman Gutierrez: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, October 23, 2011
CW Program: Detours from the Road Map October 22, 2011
H.R. 1466 Co-Sponsors Must Explain! August 28, 2011
Stop the Nonsense: Fix H.R. 1466! August 16, 2011
Message to Foreign Resident Workers, August 13, 2011
Unresolved Immigration Issues, August 11, 2011
Shameful Legislation, August 9, 2011
Written Testimony of W. Doromal, July 14, 2011, July 28, 2011
Fitial-Willens on H.R. 1466, July 26, 2011
H.R.1466: More Spin, July 20, 2011
More on H.R. 1466, July 19, 2011


Anonymous said...

OMG this is scary!

Anonymous said...

The way you compare is very clear its wrong. So how does this happen today? Because we're so far from DC that they think noone will notice? What would the people in the states think of this? Would this be ok law in some state there? Wouldn't they go nuts against this if its in thier state?

Anonymous said...

Kilili could help everyone. Why do people lie and say he can't help all OCWs? Other immigration bills were introduced last month in the US Senate to help illegals in the mainland. He doesn't want to help all of the OCWS because he cares more about himself being elected than doing the right thing. God is watching. God save us all.

Anonymous said...

CWs are not immigrants. They are contract workers. They are also citizens of other countries. The US is nearing 10% unemployment and dipping into a recession / depression.
No one in Congress will support 20,000 new welfare cases.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 12:50

The legal, long-term nonresident workers of the CNMI became de facto citizens because of the actions of the CNMI government, which continually renewed them for decades.

Anonymous 12:45 is correct. Congressman Sablan absolutely could have and can introduce a comprehensive status bill that provides for ALL of the CNMI's 16,000 legal, long-term nonresident workers, and also provides for permanent residency status. If he lacks the political courage to do so, he certainly could have and can call upon immigration advocates in the Congress to accomplish that for him. He choose instead to call on the immigration advocates to support a bill that mirrors the Black Codes of the Post-Civil War era. Shameful! Of course, they will have to answer to their constituents. Is this the kind of "immigration reform" that the undocumented aliens in the mainland can expect? Will these so-called champions of immigration reform that co-sponsored H.R. 1466 suggest that the aliens in the U.S. also be perpetually disenfranchised and restricted in their travel? What righteous-minded American citizen would support a law that echoes those of the post-Civil War era? What immigration reform groups in the U.S. would support H.R. 1466 or any such law? Show me one. We should advance as a democratic nation, not leap backwards.

On June 23, 2011 an immigration reform bill, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011, was introduced in the U.S. Senate. Provisions within that bill addressed permanent residency for 11 MILLION undocumented aliens. It is NOT TRUE that no one would consider granting 16,000 LEGAL aliens status. It is untrue.

Furthermore, the legal, long-term nonresident workers would not be welfare cases. They are hardworking , dedicated people who built the CNMI economy despite constant adversity and hardship. Given freedom they would soar!

Anonymous said...

Your analogy is a good one and makes a frightening point. Selfishness, greed and too much power always leads to evil. It doesn't seem like a bill like this could actually pass. There are too many people in the Congress that would object.

Anonymous said...

First, not welfare cases? Yes, you are correct, they would soar...in an airplane right to the US. I wonder how many former contract workers that recieved their green cards (marriage, etc) are on the social dole in the US. I don't know, but neither do you.
Sablan with political courage? How about political suicide! You're basically asking him to jump in volcano for what you think is holy and right.

Also, you said
"It is NOT TRUE that no one would consider granting 16,000 LEGAL aliens status. It is untrue."

You are correct. It's just that not enough people WILL consider granting them status.

Black Codes? Civil War! Okay, I'll bite. Let's say that is what is going on here. How long from the Civil War to the Civil Right Act? I DO think that people here will get improved status and green cards, but only if it serves some political purpose for the powers that be and at sometime it will probably will. Just not now, and that's unfortunate for the workers. Until then the US will do what they usually do on this issue...nothing. 5-8 years from now they will go count heads if there are 1,500 or so left they may say "Green Cards for All!!
After all, what "righteous-minded American citizen" would have a problem with that.

The Saipan Blogger said...

Instead of saying, "OMG you are saying mean things about me," CNMI leaders need to say, "OMG I can't believe I'm doing this."

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 11:00

Every person has choices. They can do what they know is correct, moral and just, or they can lie to themselves and others and make excuses to do less, or worse to do something that will cause others great and sometimes irreversible harm. They can invite people to sit at the table, toss them crumbs or watch them starve. They can allow others to speak or try to silence their voices. People have choices. I would never wish for another person something that I would not accept for myself. That is why I choose to speak out until H.R.1466 is amended. This bill does not reflect what is good for the 16,000 nonresident workers or what is good for our country.

The problem with our Congress is that we have a majority of members who are among the elite in their communities and few who are poor. We have a majority whose first priority is getting re-elected and not in doing what is best for the American people and our country. Partisan politics, corruption and self-serving agendas are destroying our democratic system. If I were a member of Congress I would be a one-term member because I would have to follow my moral compass and would not lie to myself saying, "This is all I can do."

People should come first. The nonresident workers are PEOPLE. All we heard at the hearing and all we ever hear about, is protecting the CNMI economy. The CNMI and federal officials speak about the nonresident workers as tools and instruments to build the CNMI economy. No one has a right to build an economy on the back of people who are disenfranchised and ill-treated. It is immoral and unjust. It is un-democratic and un-American.

The CNMI and U.S. leaders allowed the nonresident workers to be systematically abused and cheated for decades and now they worry that if they were finally freed and given permanent residency they may fly off? Not too hypocritical and self-serving. Unfortunately, most have no funds to re-locate.

How's this for a novel idea? How about the CNMI and U.S. officials ensure the nonresident workers' safety and proper treatment; ensure that they are paid what they are owed every pay period; help them to collect back wages owed to them and give reparations to those who cannot be made whole; ensure that their abusers are prosecuted and thrown in jail; stop the racism and xenophobia; and give the legal, long-term nonresident workers reason to STAY. Chaining people to a place with hellish working conditions, blatant racism and other unacceptable, and often illegal, conditions will accomplish nothing. The system must be completely overhauled and corrected. Slapping the name "federal" on the broken CNMI-system will accomplish nothing. H.R. 1466 slaps the name federal on the CNMI system with a CNMI-only status that is the same unjust, un-American status that exists now. How ignorant of the U.S. officials to think that they can get away with tossing the dedicated LEGAL, LONG-TERM nonresident workers, the de facto citizens of the CNMI, a status akin to the same status given to "freed" slaves during the Post-Civil War era, while at the same time proposing a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegals. PEOPLE should not be political pawns. Leaders should stop making excuses.

Wendy Doromal said...

Angelo 11:46


no more lies said...

Noni 11:00

How many former alien workers are on the social dole in the US? Are you kidding? Kilili just had to beg for more $ for CNMI food stamps. How many are on the dole here? What proportion of the total CNMI population are on food stamps as compared to those in the US? Who pays for food stamps? You give the impression that former alien workers should be treated differently than US citizens. Why? How many former CNMI residents are on the dole in the US?

How long from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement you ask? Far too long and what Wendy is saying. We came this far, so why turn back? This righteous minded person has a problem with that!

Go Wendy! Keep fighting!

Anonymous said...

Noni 11:00 Asking Kilili to do the right thing would be likened to him throwing himself in a volcano, you say. What about the 12,000 Kilili left in the ocean to drown while he sailed passed them in a boat big enough to rescue them?

Anonymous said...

It makes me sad that people think they should say yes to the bill because at least some get some help. How would they feel if they were in the 12,000? We won't ever get anything. It's about keeping us from ever voting. Why not give us a green card and let us free then? We'll leave and vote in US!