News for Foreign Workers

October 20, 2011

Lawsuit Against CW Final Rule Filed
Some foreign business owners and workers have filed a complaint for declaratory and injunctive relief against Janet Napolitano, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security; David Gulick, District Director, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS); Hilda Solis, Secretary of the US Department of Labor; and Terrance Trotter, District Director, US Department of Labor.

They are requesting a judgment declaring that the CW final rule is unlawful and violates their rights “under the U.S. Constitution.”

From the Marianas Variety:

The petitioners are Gerardo De Guzman who has lived and worked in the CNMI for 22 years as an accountant; Hector Sevilla, an architect, who has lived and worked in the CNMI for 22 years; Carlito Marquez, on island for 14 years, is a machinist and currently working at one of the power plants on Saipan as health safety and environmental officer; Bonifacio Sagana, Dekada Movement president, has uncollected monetary judgments from the CNMI Department of Labor, and has been on island for 22 years; Eduardo Elenzano, an award-winning artist, living on the island for 23 years; Lee Jong Ho, president of the Korean community on Saipan and engaged in small-scale business; and Manuel Vilaga, a U.S. citizen engaged in small-scale contracting business.

Except for Marquez and Lee Jong Ho, the rest of the petitioners have U.S. citizen children.
The complaint brings up many of the same issues I have brought up in statements, letters and testimonies and meetings with officials including:

  • The delay of the final rule brought uncertainty and made it impossible for business owners and employees to be able to plan for their status or future;
  • The foreign workers have been abused by employers who cheated them of wages, took illegal deductions and still have outstanding claims;
  • The foreign workers with administrative claims and orders are still waiting for justice; and

From the complaint:
48. Defendants’ suffer no injury if and when the CW Final Rule is delayed but foreign workers who are adversely affected by its implementation will suffer the greater injury of being deprived of their ”life, liberty and property
without due process of law”.

49. Granting an injunction serves the public interests of the large number of people who will be negatively affected by the implementation of the CW Final Rule. As indicated in the CNMI government’s own petition for injunction against the CW Interim Rules in 2008, the petitioners assert that “the Act requires ultimate removal of some 16, 750 foreign workers, who, in virtually all cases, will not able to qualify for federal immigration visas. Many of these workers have lived in the Commonwealth for years and have children who are U.S. citizens. In addition, all residents of the Commonwealth will be affected by the economic devastation occasioned by the forced removal of two-thirds of the Commonwealths private sector workforce.”

50. Plaintiff asserts that the implementation of the CW Final Rule in such a short period of time is an affront to the human dignity of nonresident workers who has relied on the U.S. government as a bulwark for the protection of human rights. The lack of consideration for which it is being enforced is unjust and inequitable. Nonresident workers in the CNMI have dedicated the better part of their lives in this country and has worked hard not just for their families who are also in the island but has contributed much to the CNMI economy.



Letter to the Editor Decries the Plight of Foreign Workers

An excellent letter to the editor from Micronesian Legal Services attorney Jane Mack addresses the plight of the foreign workers, especially those with U.S. citizen children. These same arguments have been submitted to the House and Senate Resources Committee and federal officials at DHS, DOI, and DOL since 2007. Why haven’t they listened?

We should add that many foreign-born children have lived years in the CNMI and they also are stressed and struggling to cope, as are their families. I have letters from the foreign-born children and from their parents that attest to this. I also have pleading letters from U.S. citizen children and their parents. I delivered some of them to members of Congress and officials last week.

There are many foreign workers who have lived in the CNMI for years and decades who are not married to a U.S. citizen and do not have a U.S. citizen child. They are no less deserving of status than those who have a U.S. citizen relative.

About 12,000 of the estimated 16,000 foreign workers were callously left out of H.R. 1466.  Many have lived in the CNMI longer than the plaintiffs in this lawsuit have; some have foreign-born children. These foreign-children are no different than the foreign-born children who are being helped in the mainland through state legislation and have had their plight addressed through the introduction of the DREAM Act. Yet in the CNMI no one seems to recognize their plight.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

May the good Lord be with us all on these days of confusions, high level emotions, sleepless nights, agonies, etc etc.

the teacher said...

This case may be the downfall of Kilili's bill if highlighted in the news. That bill had no opponents because there hasn't been much hoopla about it. I think it is a bad strategy for supporters of HR-1466, or an opening for discussion for opponents of that bill. They just seem to be asking for more time to prepare, not much to ask for, but quite a bit to risk for citizens parents.

Anonymous said...

After your trip to Washington, have you thought of litigation such as what this group did and do you think this is the right thing to do for now? Just wanna know your opinion Ms Wendy.

Wendy Doromal said...

3:20 I think the transition is a mess with the long delay of the rule, the failure of the U.S. government to act on the $6.1 million in unpaid wages documented by Administrative Orders that were collected and they received; and thousands of foreign workers with no "home" to return to and no money for airfare. Such a shame that no one in Congress and no officials in the affected U.S. departments and agencies listened to our pleas made since 2007 that clearly stated that there would be a humanitarian crisis if no status was granted to ALL of the legal, long-term nonresident workers.

I am now bringing this crisis to the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights and the High Commissioner for Refugees. Also, to the host governments. That the U.S. Congress thinks in America we accept workers for 20 -30 years then think it is fine to toss them aside like yesterday's garbage (because it is the law?) is not acceptable to me. Let's see what international agencies have to say. Let's see what national and international press have to say.

Even those who once advocated for all of the legal long-term workers have now narrowed their advocacy to those who have a U.S. relative. So tragic. Any action at this point that will bring attention to this humanitarian crisis should be welcomed. It doesn't matter if I agree or disagree with this lawsuit. This is a democracy and we have a right to ask for justice and that this crisis for ALL legal, longterm workers be addressed.

Anonymous said...

Wendy,

That's what i thought the UN, good luck for that and I am praying that this time, the US wakes up.

Anonymous said...

hmmm, i don't any relevancy that this complaint is about opposing the HR-1466. Having no connection with the subject at issue.

Anonymous said...

Officials and leaders divide OCWs making it US OCWs with US citizen family vs. those forgotten ones worked just as hard with no US family. The crisis for all OCWs. All children are God's children. All people and the families are loved by God. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, i just don't understand why US issues 50,000 permanent Green Cards every year through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or the Green Card Lottery worldwide while long-term workers have been denied or being eluded. I agree that United Nation is the next and best place to campaign to - Melberlin

Anonymous said...

let's go to the UN!!!

Anonymous said...

Forget the UN. They're useless. As I said before the next round of lawsuits will be US Citizens suing the above named defendants for failing them. We are still looking into the prevailing wage issue. There are individuals who have advised Federal officials on wages based on personal needs and business interests. There needs to be a Federal investigation on current and past Federal contracts where a lot of money was made based on dirt cheap foreign CW labor.

Wendy Doromal said...

2:41 Maybe, the UN is "useless", but I want it documented that I appealed to them and they knew of the abuses and problems. Good point on the cheap labor for federal contracts. I want more information on the rumor that ICE is converting a garment factory to a prison for deportees. Who won that contract? How much? How much are they paying per hour?

Anonymous said...

I may not agree with you on many issues Wendy but something here stinks. You ever wonder why companies that get Federal contracts are living the good life? Cheap labor on the backs of Federal taxpayers. How much does a certified welder make on Saipan? How much does one make in the US? $5.05/hr on Saipan and in the US move the decimal point over to the right. Now how many Federal contractors in the CNMI used cheap welders on Federal jobs? Be warned Wendy, if you dig too deep you'll be shocked. Hint: Look to the past and you'll find the present culprits.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting that the lawsuit is pro se. Perhaps the likes of Joe Hill, Stephen C. Woodruff or Mark Bradley Hanson were too scared to put their names on it for fear of being sanctioned?

This has as much chance of success as the lawsuit brought by Howard Penney Willens through Governor Fitial on behalf of the CNMI.

All DoJ and Judge Manglona have to do are dust off and revise the D.C. briefs and opinion.

Anonymous said...

The relevancy doesn't have anything to do with the facts of the two cases, but highlighting the issue could result in unexpected consequences. I would guess some pointed letters to the editor in John B's district explaining that a proposed House bill aims to give PR status to aliens, which will cost America money, and may set a precedent for millions of others with US children, might have more impact against HR-1466 than those who filed the complaint realize.

I would think NMI residents would understand the influence of House leaders.