August 10, 2011
If you read comments that some CNMI legislators made about H.R. 1466 you have to wonder what bill they actually read? Their arguments against the bill are unrelated to the contents of the bill. The bill affects a mere 4,000 of the 16,000 foreign worker residents of the CNMI according to the bill's author, Congressman Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan. To be covered by the bill, a foreign worker must have a U.S. citizen immediate relative.
According to the Marianas Variety lawmakers complained that 11,000 (a number tossed about by Fitial and Willens) foreigners may get rights. No worries. The undemocratic bill proposes to keep the select-only group of foreign worker residents disenfranchised by restricting their travel and their political rights. At any rate, every foreign worker who qualifies for "protection" from the bill would already be able to apply for a green card now or in the future.
Another argument was that the 11,000 were "unemployed" and there was a concern about them getting jobs. Where do these statistics come from? Aren't the majority of the foreign workers employed? If there are some without jobs how will chaining them to the CNMI help them, their families, and the CNMI? Isn't it wiser to issue all of the legal, long-term foreign residents permanent residency status and let them decide if they will stay or go? Those with jobs would stay and continue to contribute to the community; those without could seek jobs elsewhere.
Tenorio was the governor who first hired felon lobbyist Jack Abramoff in 1995 and led the CNMI in wasting $11 million in lobbying fees in an effort to prevent federalization of CNMI immigration and minimum wage.
Tenorio told the Marianas Variety that it seemed to him that the Democrats "hated us." Huh? Over the years billions in federal tax dollars have been tossed the way of the CNMI. Not much hatred is demonstrated in that action is there? Wanting to end a dysfunctional local immigration system was not based on hatred, but on justice and democratic principles. Rep. Tenorio and every CNMI legislator should read P.L. 110-229 and the Senate report on the bill that explains its purpose.
The report discusses the development of an unsustainable two-tiered society; ineffective immigration/border control; the persistent pattern of exploitation and mistreatment of aliens; and the huge population growth resulting from local policies and practices has overwhelmed the infrastructure and contributed to significant socio-economic impacts. It also states:
Elements of the CNMI's immigration policy are also simply inconsistent with Federal policies. Among these is the Federal policy that persons admitted into the U.S. to fill permanent jobs do so as immigrants with the ability to become U.S. citizens and full participants in the political process.Congressman Sablan and Governor Fitial should read the report also. The U.S. Congress never intended for there to be a CNMI-only status or to keep a segment of the population permanently disenfranchised.