Unresolved Immigration Issues

August 11, 2011

Rabby Syed, President of the United Workers Movement-NMI, is seeking help for foreign students who are not being allowed to enroll in classes at NMC. This summer a former NMC professor informed me that foreign students were not being allowed to enroll in the Fall semester because of the November 28, 2011 deadline and visa issues.

Some of the students have already completed three years of study and will not be able to graduate if the visas issues are not resolved.

According to the Saipan Tribune an estimated 30% of NMC students may not be eligible to enroll. From the article:
UWM-NMI president Rabby Syed, in an interview yesterday, said a formal letter will be sent to DHS by next week to request a parole in place “or any kind of status” that will allow these nursing students to enroll and continue studying at NMC “while their applications are still pending.”

“I will be requesting DHS to come up with immediate relief. so these students can finish their studies. I hope DHS will not take this as a request for improved status,” Syed told Saipan Tribune.

At least 12 NMC nursing students asked NMC president Sharon Hart in an Aug. 2 letter to help allow them to register in the next semester.

“We are not sure why, now, after earlier certifying our enrollment, the Office of Admissions and Records is refusing to register us for this upcoming semester until the visas actually arrive,” the nursing students told Hart.
The students said in most cases, original F-1 visas are required for students to enter the United States.

“We are continuing students already in the United States awaiting visa renewals. Not being allowed to register will pose a significant problem for all of us if the delay causes us to miss class time,” they said.
Mr. Syed said that the students who wrote the letter to NMC President Sharon Hart are immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen. Others are foreign children of legal, long-term foreign residents who were deliberately excluded from H.R. 1466 despite the claim that the bill's purpose is "to keep families together."

Yesterday Congressman Sablan was quoted by the Saipan Tribune:
Sablan said his bill does not give U.S. citizenship but if those covered want to become U.S. citizens, they should go through the normal process just like what CNMI House members are saying.

“Nothing is automatic,” Sablan said.

He said the status that his HR 1466 is proposing is the same status that the CNMI government is already granting certain non-U.S. citizens.

The delegate also said that the CW visa to be issued to qualified workers need to be applied for-“they're also not automatic,” he said.

“Those individuals who do not have a CW visa and do not have the protection of the INA will be out of status,” he said.

Sablan said his bill addresses the status of individuals left out in the CW regulations that are expected to be released next month.

Even if the White House maximizes the allowed review period of up to Sept. 15, Sablan said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will have ample time to process the CW visas to be applied for by CNMI employers.

“DHS has a plan on how to implement the program,” he added.
I clarified some points with a federal official today. Foreign resident workers who do not have an employer on November 27, 2011 will be considered out of status and will be deportable regardless of having no criminal record.

Congressman Sablan told the Tribune, "There will be no mass deportation of nonresident workers unless they have criminal violations, if the CW visas are not issued by Nov. 27."

From what I heard today, the final rule will be out within weeks and the CW visas will be issued by November 27. There will be deportations. Those without U.S. visas at that time will be out of status and deportable. Congressman Sablan understands this. Again, the Saipan Tribune quoted Sablan:
"Those individuals who do not have a CW visa and do not have the protection of the INA will be out of status."

Sablan said his bill addresses the status of individuals left out in the CW regulations that are expected to be released next month.
It is untrue that "the bill addresses the status of individuals left out in the CW regulations!" The congressman deliberately omitted the majority of the legal, long-term foreign resident workers from this legislation. There are an estimated 16,000 legal, long-term foreign resident workers in the CNMI. Sablan testified that his bill, H.R. 1466 covered only 4,000 of them. He left out 12,000 -- all of the foreign resident workers who are not married to a United States citizen or are not the parent of a United States citizen child.  He intentionally left out every legal, long-term foreign resident worker who is unmarried and childless, every legal, long-term foreign resident worker who is gay, every legal long-term foreign resident worker married to another legal, long-term foreign resident worker with no U.S. citizen child.

Congressman Sablan is acting like the captain of a huge ocean liner. He sees thousands of victims struggling to stay afloat after their boat capsized.  He could easily rescue every single person who will "be left out of the CW regulations", but he purposely made the unconscionable decision to rescue only those with a U.S. citizen child or spouse. Was this decision politically motivated, as many suggest? He has made no definitive statement to explain why he decided that only some will be "rescued" and the rest can drown. He has avoided speaking of those that he omitted from the bill. Since the bill only continues the CNMI status quo and provides no suitable U.S. status as provided by the INA, why did he decide to forsake the rest of the foreign resident workers?

Previously, the congressman has said, "I can't help everyone." We all know that he absolutely can help everyone. Does he mean that he doesn't want to help all who have contributed so much to the CNMI because he fears it would not be in his best political interest to help all? He absolutely could have and should have included every legal, long-term foreign resident worker to be provided this very minimal protection provided in H.R. 1466. He choose only to "protect" those with U.S. citizen relatives, perhaps because as so many have said, those relatives represent past or future supporters/voters. If he wants to, he absolutely can introduce a bill that would provide permanent residency status or if he wants to he can ask a member who supports immigration reform to introduce such a bill.

The argument that immigration is a controversial issue so "all" cannot be included also doesn't fly. If the issue of granting permanent residency status to a minimal number of legal, long-term foreign residents of the CNMI is truly so controversial, why then would the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform that addresses permanent residency status with a pathway to citizenship for 11 million illegal aliens be introduced? (See the post, U.S. Senators Reintroduce Immigration Bill, June 23, 2011.)

Perhaps the argument is that a very small but vocal minority of racist supremacists who were handed blue passports a few decades ago now object to their fellow long-term community members being granted the same, so they should be placated for some incomprehensible reason?

I did not expect any foreign worker who is covered by this bill to publicly support it as it stands. Would someone be so bold to speak out for himself or herself and the 1/4 of the workers covered by the bill, knowing that many of the legal, long-term foreign residents who are not covered by this bill have worked and lived in the CNMI longer than some with a U.S. citizen spouse or child have? Knowing that equally deserving fellow foreign resident workers are excluded? Sure enough, one has actually spoken in favor of this inferior bill.  The Saipan Tribune quoted Boni Sagana of Dekada:
Boni Sagana, president of the Dekada Movement consists mostly of foreign workers, said yesterday that their members have expressed concern about the CNMI House of Representatives' adoption of a resolution that, in essence, opposes Sablan's HR 1466.

He said Dekada is now calling on its members who have relatives and friends who are in the United States mainland to start bringing the issue of HR 1466 to their respective congressmen.

“It's now out of the CNMI government's hands. The bill is now before U.S. congressmen. Those who have friends and relatives should start asking their congressmen to vote for Kilili's HR1466,” he said.
Really? Vote for this bill as it stands? Not to amend the bill or substitute a bill to include all legal, long-term foreign residents to have permanent residency status? Support a bill that perpetuates disenfranchisement and mirrors the Black Codes of the post-Civil War era!?

From a 2004 Saipan Tribune article:
Newly organized Dekada Movement aims to hold meetings with different groups of nonresident workers to fully explain itself and its petition to have eligible nonresidents in the CNMI be granted U.S. citizenship.

“We want to meet with concerned employees as a group to ensure clarity. We want to fully explain to them our intention because I know that they have many questions,” said Dekada Movement leader Boni Sagana.

Sagana, whose previous landmark case resulted in a policy change allowing nonresident workers multiple jobs in the CNMI, said that the coverage now of the petition includes those who have stayed in the Commonwealth for five years and up.

Initially, the group only enlisted those who have stayed in the CNMI for a decade and up. “Dekada” is decade in Tagalog.

“We have expanded the coverage to five years because that's the case in the United States,” he said.

...He said the hiring of a lawyer and maintaining an office had prompted the group to charge a $100 fee from enlisted people.

He said that, of the amount, $90, which can be paid in three months, would be reserved for attorney's fees, while the $10 would be used for office operations.

“This is a group effort. We can't accomplish anything if we don't contribute,” said Sagana.
Why the change of heart? What do the members say, especially those left out of H.R. 1466?  This from the group that took $100 in membership fees (a significant amount for a foreign worker) telling them that the group would lobby for green cards for all legal, long-term workers? Disappointing.

If this bill does pass (and I doubt that it will, as it is written) there will be no other status bill for a very long time, if ever. The 12,000 omitted will be forsaken and most likely will never collect the wages that were stolen from a majority of them. The "chosen ones" will remain as a disenfranchised underclass in a divided two-tiered society until they apply for their immediate relative spouses or children petition them for green cards.  Status quo for a select few to appease the few racist, but outspoken minority that want to perpetuate the CNMI system, and to hell with the rest. How does this sit with people who support democratic principles and immigration reform?

Meanwhile, I will join the United Workers Movement in continuing to campaign for ALL of the long-term, legal foreign resident workers to be granted permanent residency. I am currently seeking a member of Congress who is committed to immigration reform and justice to submit a substitute bill.

Read also:
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: stepping back in time to a time that we want to forget, July 20, 2011
H.R.1466: More Spin, July 20, 2011
More on H.R. 1466, July 19, 2011

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

thank you for courage to tell truth. you always stand for all mom. even they will say bad you stand up.

Anonymous said...

One word stuck in my mind reading this and the word is Judas.

Anonymous said...

Rep. Sablan knows what he's done. That's why he won't talk about the left outs. He's sacrificing the ones with no US connection like lambs to slaughter. They'll be deported and the ones who got a US kid will stay even if they have no jobs if his bill passes. Boni has may be 10 followers left in Dekada. Most want the money back after he changed his line 10, no 5, no 10, no 5, no 10.They don't never call meetings. If they called a meeting the members would demand refunds.

Anonymous said...

Good analogy with the life savers.Good points all around. I looked and can find no where that the delegate explains a logical reason to protect only those with a U.S. citizen relative. None, no where. The nonresident workers who were left out must be furious. They should show up at the public town hall and tell Delegate Saban how they feel. Tuesday, August 16, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the multi-purpose center. "All community members are invited to attend."

Anonymous said...

Without premium processing, H-visas take about 6 months to process. I think it is doubtful that the CW visas will be issued by November 27 even if the regulations are published in the nex few weeks, especially considering there should be some period of advertising and interviewing qualified U.S. workers prior to the CW visa petition. I also doubt the regulations will be issued until late November.

Anonymous said...

Dekada's a memory of once significant group and pops up only to support some NMI internal political move. Dekada's Atty. Steven Woodruff and 6-10 followers. They don't contact the original members they took the cash from. Ask yourself if you can recall when they last announced a meeting? Who attended? When they held their last election for officers? Are they registered or incorporated as a nonprofit organization? Don't know, can't remember? Please stop giving blog space or mention to this has-been group. They have never had one set goal. They're all over the place. Ignore them. They don't exist! Keep pushing forward.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 2:53pm
You have no idea, in our company only 1.5 months our H1-B processed and approved.

Anonymous said...

Wendy,

What needs to be be done now is assisting those twelve thousand workers who are going to be deported. Perhaps a fund raiser to give them a bit of cash when they deplane and make their way to the hellish nightmares of Dhaka, Islamabad and Manila.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 2:50

What needs to be done is to assist the 12,000 foreign resident workers, some who may be in danger of being deported through decent and effective legislation, not some inferior bill. The way to do that is to get a member of Congress to introduce legislation to respond to the DOI report -to grant permanent residency status to ALL legal, long-term foreign resident workers in the CNMI now.

You want to start a fund raiser? Then please do. The de facto citizens -the legal long-term workers without US citizen relatives that Congressman Sablan left out of H.R. 1466 also do not qualify for food stamps and many are hungry. They don't need to return to their homelands to face nightmarish hell. They face it every day. By all means please help them! I also invite you to join us in supporting protection for those Congressman Sablan deliberately left out of the bill. Nice way to thank people who labored and served the community for years and decades! I am disgusted.

Anonymous said...

Noni 2:50, It has been stated that no one will be deported come Nov.
Many may not qualify for employment but there will be no mass deportation.
The ones that are able to get some kind of work permits (what ever they may be) will have to be given time to have the company apply and the US Govt. to process them.
I personally am of the opinion (though not a professional one)that the US Govt. denying any present "legal" worker here a work permit or restricting there stay if they have been here for a certain number of years. No matter what their current job is, such as waitress, houseworker etc.
I do think that any future workers that will come here will have to meet stricter qualifications such as the present "visa" workers.
Do not panic (yet)But hopefully the worker regs will be out by next month.
No sense in any fund raiser for a deportation.
Every one knew about this and should have been prepared for the worse.(which most likely will not come.)
I do not see of any green cards for all though.
If a NMI only status, it would hopefully be able to get a waiver to include Guam as that is where the jobs are. This should presently be solicited.

give me liberty or give me death said...

For you who support CNMI-status over permanent residency please think about this:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."Benjamin Franklin

Anonymous said...

What needs to be done is for nursing students to apply for F-1visas, instead of giving them false hope for pie-in-the-sky special status.

Anonymous said...

Noni 2:50

Where did you read that? It was stated that there will be no mass deportations meaning not everyone will have to leave at the same time. People have been making up regulations and interpreting US Federal Law as they see fit from day one. 'Well it really mean that...' 'Congress will issue Green Cards...' 'No one will be deported...' and so on. Get a grip people.

Anonymous said...

god bless us!!!

Anonymous said...

"wages that were stolen from a majority of them"? I doubt that a majority of them were victimized significantly. On aversage, fewer than 500 per year complained to Interior's ombudsman, and while that is an unacceptably high number, 500 per year represents less than 2% of the 30,000 or so alien workers that were permitted each year. The abuses that occurred were awful, and well-documented. We lose credibility when we try to make the entire alien worker population into an class of victims.

Wendy Doromal said...

7:53 No, I am sticking by that statement. How many were victimized before the ombudsman was there to complain to? How many never complained to the ombudsman because they had no access like those on Tinian and Rota or because they were threatened? How many emails or phone calls do you receive from victims afraid to complain because of threats asking for advice? How many people have you talked to that have told you that they can't complain because at least they get "something" and have to provide for their families? I get plenty of emails and phone calls and I have talked to too many people who are being or have have been ripped off. So I would say that MOST were cheated in some way or another -by stolen wages, stolen overtime, illegal deductions, refusal of employer to pay medical expenses (every worker at some very large companies had to pay for their own annual required physical/renewals and fees or they would not be renewed -right there that is thousands), and other contract substitutions of one kind or another, etc. Reparations are due.

Stop minimizing! I have documentation and I am going to use it. You discredit the victims when you minimize their suffering. It makes me sick. Like the rapist scumbag who raped a worker on Rota and told me she wanted it. I get sick when I think of every criminal wage thief or abuser.

Green Cards for All! said...

What about the many demonstrably false labor claims and complaints, filed primarily to prolong presence in this alleged hell-hole of abuse?

Instead of pulling numbers out of the air, or generalizing and extrapolating from what written claims you do have, why not urge a comprehensive DOI-funded study on this issue, using professional sources and methods?

Through your outlandish claims that “most” guest worker “de facto citizens” of the CNMI have been victimized, you are creating a very real possibility of marginalizing yourself as the “crazy activist who cried wolf.”

The best method of helping overcome historical injustices toward contract workers, and building a more just and sustainable CNMI economy does not necessarily involve “shooting for the moon” or vilifying those with whom one disagrees (I am not accusing you, Wendy, of the latter).

The results of recent minimum wage and immigration federalization should encourage us to plan properly (with at least the same social or environmental impact statement required of the most minor construction project on the mainland), think things through, and beware of unintended consequences.

Incrementalism is not necessarily a bad thing.

Wendy Doromal said...

Green Cards

Nope, sticking by by words -I have the documentation. Do you have the number of false claims? $6.1 million represents only the figure owed to workers who came forward in 2008 -more never got that chance because they were repatriated without justice. You ask the foreign workers if they were ever cheated of wages or had a contract violation like I did and you will see! Not a crazy anything. I have the documentation!