Congressman Sablan’s Statements Concerning HR 1466

September 29, 2011

Congressman Sablan on HR 1466
Photo By Itos Feliciano ©2011
Congressman Sablan responded to a foreign worker's question concerning status at the USCIS meeting held on Wednesday evening by attempting to defend HR 1466.  I heard about some of the remarks that he made from foreign workers who called me. His statements were also reported in the Marianas Variety by reporters Junhan B. Todeno and Emmanuel T. Erediano.

Congressman Sablan said, “I don’t control the Congress of the United States. But I have met the president of the U.S. and asked him to consider this.”

Over 7,000 legal foreign workers and their supporters have also appealed to President Obama. Through several petitions we asked him to support permanent residency for all legal, long-term foreign workers. Another petition requested administrative action such as parole-in place status for the legal, long-term foreign workers. In  June 2011 I wrote a letter to President Obama and in August 2011 I sent another certified letter to express concerns about HR 1466 and the plight of the foreign workers. I will continue to plead with the President, members of Congress and Cabinet members to support a just and democratic solution to end the plight of the legal, long-term foreign workers and their families.

We have seen all the bad results that occur when bandaid solutions are applied.  We do not need any more stop gap solutions or band aids. We need to address this issue and come up with permanent solutions. A “CNMI-only status” that strips the dignity from the foreign workers, restricts their travel and perpetuates disenfranchisement is not an acceptable solution. It does not address all legal, long-term foreign workers, as the CNRA intended. It does not align the CNMI with U.S. immigration laws and the INA, but takes us a giant step backwards from reform and justice. I will continue to ask the President to support a just and democratic law that addresses the intent of PL 110-229 and not an inferior stop gap law that excludes 12,000 or ¾ of all legal, long-term foreign workers. Since it will unlikely pass by November 28, 2011, we need to introduce the proper legislation.

The U.S. Congress has to act on legislation, but certainly the President of the United States, a progressive and fair leader, will certainly see the danger in supporting a bill that mirrors the post-Civil War Black Codes and provides limited security for only 1/4 of the deserving 16,000 legal CNMI foreign workers.

Again, a major intent of the CNRA was to bring the CNMI immigration policies into conformity with the policies applicable to the rest of the United States, as stated in an April 2008 Senate Report that accompanied H.R. 3079 :
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.
H.R. 1466 clearly conflicts with this intent. Instead, it represents a haphazard attempt to reconcile the status of only certain limited categories of nonresident workers under a newly created “CNMI-only” status that does not fall under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The President cannot initiate any status or reform measures by himself. Any reform legislation must originate from the U.S. Congress. Today President Obama stated:
"I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there's been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It's just not true."
Congressman Sablan said : “H.R. 1466 has been worked on for over two years in the Congress by the Republicans and Democrats in the House and in the Senate, and it is the best thing that they will consider.”

I checked again and the sole Republican that has co-sponsored this bill is Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). This is the same congressional member who was involved in the Abramoff corruption scandal. The same representative whose staff member, Mark Zachares, former CNMI Secretary of Labor and Immigration, was convicted and sentenced to jail time for his role in the CNMI-Abramoff scandal.

Congressman Sablan claims that this version is the only one that a divided and partisan Congress could pass because immigration is such a controversial issue. It is difficult to believe that there are members of Congress who cannot distinguish between legal aliens and undocumented or illegal aliens. It is difficult to believe that members of Congress object to a mere 16,000 legal, nonresident workers being granted permanent residency when 1,042,625 foreigners were issued green cards (legal permanent residency) in the United States in 2010 according to DHS.

Congressman Sablan said: “Anyone here who is unhappy with [the bill], I am going to tell this much: it is the best thing that we can get Congress to pass. It is the work of both Republicans and Democrats in the House and in the Senate.”

This bill is clearly not the best thing. It is not even remotely close to being the best thing. It is truly inadequate and a slap in the face to 16,000 legal, long-term foreign workers who have lived and worked in the CNMI for years and even decades. It fails to address the needs of the foreign contract workers, their families or the best interests of every person who calls the CNMI their home. The best bill would include all legal, long-term foreign resident workers. The best bill would grant permanent residency to the legal foreign workers of the CNMI, just as bills that the immigration “reformist”, immigration “champions” and even Congressman Sablan co-sponsored – bills that propose permanent residency status for millions of undocumented aliens. This bill suggests that the so-called immigration reformist are truly not reformists or champions at all, but have their own political agendas. How else can they explain the double standard set by proposing an inferior status or none at all to the CNMI's legal aliens, but proposing permanent residency and a pathway to citizenship for 11 million undocumented aliens!?

Congressman Sablan said: “I stood before you before and I’ve always said that I can’t help everyone and that’s just the fact of life.” 

We all know that in the case of introducing legislation on the status for the 16,000 legal foreign workers Congressman Sablan absolutely can help every legal, long-term (5 or more years) foreign worker. Members of Congress are free to introduce and push the legislation that they support and want to introduce. We all know that he could introduce a bill that would grant permanent residency to every one of the 16,000 legal, long-term foreign workers. He does not want to introduce such legislation, but he certainly can.

A bill that proposed granting 16,000 legal, long-term foreign workers permanent residency would get the same support from these same co-sponsors. It may get even more co-sponsors since such a bill would be more in line with comprehensive immigration reform and the principles and ideals upon which our nation was founded.  Congressman Sablan intentionally submitted a bill that he thought would appease some of the foreign contract workers (those who are future potential voters and will eventually obtain permanent residency status through a U.S. citizen immediate relative anyway) and also appease the xenophobic and powerful minority whose goal is to maintain the status quo, the two-tiered society and the disenfranchised underclass. This is a politically motivated bill.

The Marianas Variety reported:
Sablan also disclosed that he and the 47 co-sponsors of his bill are urging for the “mark up” of H.R. 1466, which means the measure will be placed on the table for amendments, further discussions and a vote.

“If we can do it next week, I’d like to do it next week,” he said, assuring that the measure is moving forward.
I will submit written testimony for the mark up hearing. I hope that the foreign workers will also send written testimony to any scheduled markup hearing.

Congressman Sablan said: “Let me put it this way because I am the one in Congress who deal with other members of Congress who at this point in time do not want to deal with anything having to do with immigration. So here’s the choice. I will include everyone and guarantee the bill would die, or I will work on H.R. 1466, and pass it so that some people will get something. Tell me what you want me to do: include everybody and no one gets anything? I am asking you a question.”

I absolutely do not believe that this statement is true. It may be the politically safe statement to deliver to CNMI voters and to placate the CNMI foreign workers, but it is not true. If this was a true statement how does Congressman Sablan explain that there have been many bills introduced over the last few years (including some that he has co-sponsored) that include all illegal aliens in the U.S. mainland? In fact, after HR 1466 was introduced in April 2011 other comprehensive immigration bills were introduced in the Senate that would grant permanent residency to millions of undocumented aliens! In May 2011 Senators Reid, Durbin and Menendez introduced the DREAM ACT. In June 2011 Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was joined by six Senators in re-introducing an immigration reform bill, The Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2011. The bill was co-sponsored by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), John Kerry (D-MASS), Kristin Gillibrand (D-NY), Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). At that time Senator Gillibrand stated:
Our immigration system is broken and the status quo is unacceptable,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We need to right-size the system by uniting families while upholding America’s security and the rule of law. I am committed to working with my colleagues in passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill that improves border security while treating immigrants fairly, providing a path to hard earned citizenship, and allowing our youth a chance at the American dream.”
This certainly conflicts with statements that claim that a principled bill that would grant 16,000 legal, long-term foreign workers permanent residency would be opposed or could not be introduced in the U.S. Congress!

Congressman Sablan said: “I am the one there and I need to do my job without having to listen to 16,000 different interpretations of what I am trying to do because it wastes our time and resources. I have staff here and I told them it’s getting to the point that I’m putting more resources and energy on these things than on a lot of other things that I should be doing, and that’s not fair to everyone else who are not covered by H.R. 1466,” he added.


Are 16,000 interpretations of a bill that directly impacts the lives, security and very future of 16,000 people a waste of time and resources?! A member of Congress is expected to listen to the people's views and consider them. There are 16,000 foreign workers who make up 80 to 90% of the private work force. Most of them have lived in the CNMI for over 5 years, many for decades. They have been disenfranchised under CNMI law. Under HR 1466 that disenfranchisement will not change and 12,000 are excluded from the bill entirely.  How could Sablan have expected silence from these people and their advocates? When legislation is introduced that impacts 16,000 people, every one of them has a right to express their views. Any resident who supports justice and basic human rights has a right to speak out to support or oppose this bill. Yes, the congressman needs to do his job, and that job includes listening to all views even those who express opposition or call for changes.

Members of Congress are public servants. It is the American people -the tax payers- who fund the salaries of the members of Congress and their staffers. (In the case of the CNMI, it is people like me -the federal taxpayers from the states who provide the resources to fund the salaries and expenses of the congressman's office.) Perhaps this statement is typical of why Congress no longer functions as it should and why the American people are so angry at the members in this current Congress. Every member of the U.S. Congress is elected to serve and represent every person that will be impacted by their laws and actions. Listening and weighing "interpretations" or input should not be regarded as a waste of time or resources.

The congressman said:
As a result of the “continuous push” by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued the Morton memo which “calls on ICE attorneys and employees to refrain from pursuing non-citizens with close family, educational, military, or other ties in the U.S. and instead spend the agency’s limited resources on persons who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security.” 
That also applies to the CNMI, he added.
The discretionary memo was released on June 17, 2011 by ICE Director John Morton. (Read previous posts from this site concerning the memo: Immigration Reform Moving Forward, and DHS to Review 300,000 Deportation Cases 

The memo lists 19 humanitarian criteria that should be considered when deciding whether prosecutorial discretion should be applied:
  • the agency’s civil immigration enforcement priorities;
  • the person’s length of presence in the United States, with particular consideration given to presence while in lawful status;
  • the circumstances of the person’s arrival in the United States and the manner of his or her entry, particularly if the alien came to the United States as a young child;
  • the person’s pursuit of education in the United States, with particular consideration given to those who have graduated from a U.S. high school or have successfully pursued or are pursuing a college or advanced degrees at a legitimate institution of higher education in the United States;
  • whether the person, or the person’s immediate relative, has served in the U.S. military, reserves, or national guard, with particular consideration given to those who served in combat;
  • the person’s criminal history, including arrests, prior convictions, or outstanding arrest warrants;
  • the person’s immigration history, including any prior removal, outstanding order of removal, prior denial of status, or evidence of fraud;
  • whether the person poses a national security or public safety concern;
  • the person’s ties and contributions to the community, including family relationships;
  • the person’s ties to the home country and conditions in the country;
  • the person’s age, with particular consideration given to minors and the elderly;
  • whether the person has a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, or parent;
  • whether the person is the primary caretaker of a person with a mental or physical disability, minor, or seriously ill relative;
  • whether the person or the person’s spouse is pregnant or nursing;
  • whether the person or the person’s spouse suffers from severe mental or physical illness;
  • whether the person’s nationality renders removal unlikely;
  • Whether the person is likely to be granted legal status or other relief from removal, including as a relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident;
  • whether the person is likely to be granted temporary or permanent status or other relief from removal, including as an asylum seeker, or a victim of domestic violence, human trafficking, or other crime; and
  • whether the person is currently cooperating or has cooperated with federal, state, or local law-enforcement authorities, such as ICE, the U.S Attorneys or Department of Justice, the Department of Labor, or National Labor Relations Board, among others.
The Morton Memo also lists specific classes of persons who should be given “particular care” when making prosecutorial decisions including:
  • veterans and members of the U.S. armed forces;
  • long-time lawful permanent residents;
  • minors and elderly individuals;
  • individuals present in the United States since childhood;
  • pregnant or nursing women;
  • victims of domestic violence, trafficking, or other serious crimes;
  • individuals who suffer from a serious mental or physical disability; and
  • individuals with serious health conditions.
If this memo is followed no legal, long-term foreign worker should be removed from the CNMI.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

The Federal government and the American Taxpayer owe nothing to Filipino Citizens in the CNMI. Nothing. Filipinos protested Subic Bay and Clark Air Force base resulting in the US pulling out of a strategic area. Now, China is taking over. Where were the candle light vigils when Gloria Macapagal pulled ALL Filipino troops out of Iraq because ONE Filipino was being held hostage. This resulted in deaths of Americans. No, we do not them anything. Go ahead and hold your card board signs up, if you can't contribute you have to leave.

Anonymous said...

Wendy many of Sablan's constituents, the folks who can legally vote for him are letting their thoughts known to him that he is spending too much time and resources on this issue. the people who are effected by this can't vote for him. He needs to listen to those who pay his salary and will either vote for him or against him. As to the morton memo it is as important in what it doesn't say. It does not say that ICE cannot deport those people listed only that they should prioritize. on a small island like saipan and the cnmi once ICE focuses on the limited number of criminal foreigners they are required by law to go after others, it is about priorities not looking the other way, that is called non feasance and is against the law.... gws need to understand there is a set of requirements of who is eligible for this temporary guest worker status, anyone who attempts to secure one illegally will be targeted by cis and ice and be deported. anyone who becomes illegal as of 11/27/2011 is eligible for removal and should be prepared and not suprised if they are put into deportation proceedings... dhs is making plans nationwide for how to handle large numbers of aliens to be removed. people need to be honest with the gw as to what can happen....wishing it not to be so doesn't make it not so

Wendy Doromal said...

7:40 They already contributed -they contributed for years and decades! look around!

Anonymous said...

"He needs to listen to those who pay his salary"

US Federal Taxpayers pay his salary. They also pay for one of the most expensive food bills in the US Congress. The trips, the golfing, eating, drinking and traveling. All for a non voting Congressman and his relatives who work for him. Time to reign in the spending. US Federal Taxpayers also pay for Federal officials living and working in the CNMI. You hardly see them actually doing anything. Total waste of money.

Wendy Doromal said...

7:51

You said, "Wendy many of Sablan's constituents, the folks who can legally vote for him are letting their thoughts known to him that he is spending too much time and resources on this issue." That is his job. Any elected official must deal with what is on the table and what people care about whether they like it or not. If elected officials think people will support them even if they are causing permanent harm to a group of people, they need a reality check! This issue does not just affect the foreign workers and their families, it impacts the entire island and the reputation of the United States.

You said, "the people who are effected by this can't vote for him. He needs to listen to those who pay his salary and will either vote for him or against him." Everyone in our country is affected by this! Again it will tarnish the reputation of our country if such a bill passes. It will affect the CNMI economically, socially and politically. Correct me if I am wrong, but the US citizens in the CNMI do not pay federal income taxes. So who is paying his salary, office expenses, airfare, salaries of his staff and other expenses? I am. All of the American taxpayers in the states are. Members of Congress should NOT be in Congress to for the purpose of making a living -they are public servants. They should not make decisions or introduce faulty legislation to get re-elected. This is exactly why we have gridlock and a do-nothing Congress. Members are more interested in their own careers and getting re-elected than in doing what is best for everyone affected. The American people (the taxpayers) are fed up!

If the Morton memo is applied one way in the mainland and another in the CNMI I guarantee there will be lawsuits filed. This practice of treating stateside illegal aliens better than legal aliens in the CNMI needs to end now. Treat them all the same way -with dignity and as humans, not as replaceable commodities.

One final note -you do not know what will happen to the legal aliens of the CNMI as far as the Morton memo. But for sure know this - I AM WATCHING!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10/01/11 7:40 am. Too much talk.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10/01/11 7:40 am, wake up!!! look around and read history book instead of opening your mouth with no idea, typical racist huh!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:40.

I have seen a documentary film that showed the remnants of the US base in my country. Bombs and wastes that were left behind and killed many children who played in the area, thinking that it is safe. The toxic wastes that US military left behind in our country.

Filipino troops being pulled out? Because our President cared just as much as you would care to bring your sick family members to our country to get treatment or else they die. We may be aliens here but we contributed much to CNMI because we care for others as much as ourselves. We just wanted to be respected as human beings and not any "trash" to get rid easily.

Anonymous said...

kilili, i believed you should represent also us aliens here. Although we're not voters we are taxpayers too that contribute to drive your economy. does it means you are only after being re-elected and neglect us?. selfish! don't say "I will include everyone and guarantee the bill would die, or I will work on H.R. 1466, and pass it so that some people will get something. Tell me what you want me to do: include everybody and no one gets anything? I am asking you a question.”
so you meant suck us up as taxpayers and then save the voters for yourself to maintain your position?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10/01/11 7:40 am, please please please can you tell me what chamorro nation contributed to the US eversince the world has been discovered by Magellan? what? do you have any answer why US granted you US citizenship? if you have a good answer the I leave this island, if you do not have, shut up!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 10/01/11 7:40 am, do you think you contributed a lot to the US? haha! funny

Anonymous said...

kilili you made a mistake I guaranteed! more aliens here are smarter than you, pls! do not treat us as islander! thinking that you are the smartest of all!

Anonymous said...

why any official would help us? they like their slaves and power. work no pay and no help. they laugh at us. they use us to kick us out. when you land back home tell everyone what the CNMI stands for and why to stay away. c- corrupt, n- no good, m-mean, i- ignorant

The Saipan Blogger said...

The commenter who thinks 1/3 of the islands population leaving won't affect the remaining 2/3 hasn't thought things through, but that's not very surprising.

Anonymous said...

Angelo, the departure of the 1/3 was an ineluctable consequence of minimum wage and immigration federalization, which is why Fitial strove so hard to forestall it.

Congress should have done an economic study before passing Pub. L. 110-229. Reap what you sow.

the scribe said...

And Kilili is bound to the wishes of those that elected him, that is why he was re-elected. Who would CGWs have liked better, Judge Lizama or Joe Camacho? Just think about that and everyone knows if the dream act wouldn't pass, neither would a broad bill.

If people stay without employment or by some type parole in place, we will see our numbers swell because local businesses can hire "new" guest workers from abroad. The cap is high and business will hire the younger, more skilled employee with less complications(and complications could be old cases, children and children abroad that will be able to move here via a CW-2, ex-spouses, poor work record, etc). Business needs to show that no US citizen is available but they don't need to show that other guest workers are not available. Business hasn't been able to the past several years so now we will see an influx and the 40 year old guest worker will find employment difficult without some outstanding skill. Consider that or not, as I'm just the messenger.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:34

People given green cards would be FREE to leave. After serving the CNMI for years and decades the legal, long-term foreign workers deserve NOTHING LESS! People should not to be tossed aside like yesterday's garbage. The CNMI is the meanest place on U.S. soil for sure. Meaner than Arizona, meaner than Alabama, -plain mean. Set the people free.

Anonymous said...

they are free to leave anytime wendy no body is keeping them here.....oh wait a lot of people are keeping them here with this promise of improved status and pathway to citizenship.................. without preparing them for the reality that it was only a chance that there could be, if a bill was introduced and if the bill made it through comittee and if the bill was placed on the calendar in the house of reps and if it could pass there and if it could be placed on the Senate calendar and if it could be passed there and if and if and if..........hmm doesn't sound like what i have been hearing told to CWs here for the last three years but maybe it should have been,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Wendy Doromal said...

7:58

People who have NO homes, NO jobs and NO future opportunities in their homelands or elsewhere are not free to leave, anonymous perosn! They are cast into a terrible situation, which should never have happened to LEGAL long-term, foreign workers who have been working on US soil for years and decades. This is not Kuwait. This is an unjust outrage. It is a disgrace to our country.

You lack empathy and clearly have no perception of what it is like to be a long-term foreign worker.

Was this advocate told that after PL 110-229 passed then we would see a law to provide permanent residency? YES! I am not in Congress and cannot introduce legislation, but clearly when the Democrats had control they could have and should have. No advocate promised the workers that they would get them green cards. I promised to fight for them, which is what I am doing.

Anonymous said...

10:34, Kilili isn't bound to wishes of the people who vote for him. he’s bound to the constitution and to do the right moves. he's a hot-tempered weakling. did you see him the other nite? he's got no heart. No the CGWs wouldn't like Camacho either. we like someone like M'am Wendy Tina or someone else with heart and brain. If the dream act don't pass neither will hr 1466. better to put in a good bill then a bad one just coz the bad one can pass. stupid thinking hurts people.

Wendy Doromal said...

Here is a take on the CW program:

Obama Caves to Ghosts of DeLay, Abramoff on CNMI Migrant Rules


From the article: Further, Congress should move to put at least some of the CW workers onto the path toward citizenship, to equalize the Kuwaiti-style labor market we have in the CNMI now, where the indigenous population happily plays the role of Kuwaiti Arabs. As in Kuwait, outsiders do the actual work in the CNMI.

My sense of the dynamics of this situation, based on my past experience with the islands rather than any current information, is that the Mainland DHS officials were overly impressed with the significance of "political correctness" in their dealings with island rulers, rather than assessing them and their policy positions with the eyes of clear-eyed realists.

the scribe said...

Are we encouraging unemployed persons to overstay because of this memo? What in the world are they going to do here? American citizens do have the first priority for jobs here and some may sue to defend that right. Young citizens of workers and locals are looking forward to the job openings and looking forward to starting small businesses. Does anyone believe an overstayer can get by working under the table in a small place like Saipan? How does an illegal business plan to operate, as they can't employ, make contracts, or finance.

Anonymous said...

Scribe There are no overstayers if they have umbrella permit. Give them back pay and green card so they can get a job in the US.

Anonymous said...

In fairness, he didn't say "the best bill". He said " the best bill congress can pass". There is a difference.