November 25, 2011

"It is not the brains that matter most, but that which guides them -- the character, the heart, generous qualities, progressive ideas." Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The Saipan Tribune reports that Governor Fitial is considering "stopping USCIS" from granting parole to those who must apply on a case-by-case basis. According to the news he ordered his lawbreaking Attorney General to “review USCIS conduct and give me advice on how we might proceed.”

From The Tribune:
Fitial also said he might file a lawsuit to stop USCIS from granting parole up to Dec 31, 2012, especially to those who are a "burden" to the CNMI or who are jobless.

"I might go that route [lawsuit] but I have to wait for the attorney general’s decision," Fitial said in an interview last night at a Christmas tree/Nativity lighting ceremony at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center in Susupe.

The governor was reacting to what he considers “blanket parole to potentially thousands of individuals not authorized to remain in the CNMI.”

“This is not right. No one is above the law and a federal agency should not change rules to accommodate a political request in anticipation of a bill that is not law,” Fitial said.
You have to appreciate the fact that the governor made these Grinch-like comments at Christmas lighting ceremony.

The qualifying foreign workers would not be "above the law" because this is the law. The governor does not set immigration law or policy, the federal government does.

The governor should not be talking about anyone being "above the law" anyway. In the CNMI, the governor, the Attorney General, the governor's political friends and all of the hundreds of CNMI employers who stole wages from the foreign workers are and have been considered "above the law." None have been held accountable for breaking laws. The employers have left a pile of victims the size of a mountain in their wake. Every foreign worker, whether they have a U.S. citizen relative or not who is a victim of wage theft and/or is owed money by the CNMI government for past tax rebates has nothing to lose by applying for humanitarian parole. In fact, I question why the USCIS did not create a parole category for the victims of wage theft and crimes. They are well aware of this issue and the huge injustice that has occurred on U.S. soil, as are the foreign governments.

There is no "blanket" anything for the de facto citizens of the CNMI who are mere pawns to the CNMI's politicians, including Fitial, Sablan and the CNMI Legislature. (Let's not forget that truth-bending Senate Report issued on the DOI Report.)  An example of "blanket" would be when the people of the CNMI suddenly becoming U.S. citizens overnight just a few decades ago. Now that was "blanket."

This action is merely another band aid that the U.S. government is attempting to place on a problem the size of a hemorrhage that was created initially by the failure to provide a status provision in the CNRA, and secondly by the failure of the U.S. Congress to act immediately in May 2010 after the release of the DOI Report, to introduce legislation to provide permanent residency for all of the legal, long-term foreign workers.

Here is what the USCIS states about the parole for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and certain stateless children:
Based on recent developments in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), USCIS will consider, on a case by case basis, a grant of parole until Dec. 31, 2012 to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and certain “stateless” individuals. This will allow immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and stateless individuals to maintain legal status in the CNMI. With the expiration of umbrella permits on Nov. 27, 2011, immediate relatives and certain stateless individuals may not have another option under U.S. immigration law. We will release guidance for applying for this kind of parole soon.
Soon? The directions for applying for the parole are not even released. Wouldn't these people be deemed "out of status" by the time the instructions and more details are out? According to the CNRA and DHS-imposed extension, those aliens who do not have parole or U.S. visas on November 27, 2011 will be out-of-status.  November 28, 2011 will be the first day that "guidance for this kind of parole" could  possibly be released. Too late. Perhaps the instructions will take that into consideration and will allow people under those categories to apply even though "out of status."

The USCIS site further states:
Who can stay in the CNMI after Nov. 27, 2011 and apply for this type of parole?
You may be eligible to stay in the CNMI and apply for parole if you are:
  • An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. An immediate relative is: a legal spouse, unmarried child under 21 years old or parent (regardless of the age of the U.S. citizen child) who is legally present and resides in the CNMI as of Nov. 27, 2011
  • A foreign national born in what is now the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974 and Jan. 9, 1978 (this group of individuals is sometimes referred to as “stateless” because of their unique situation under the Covenant Act establishing eligibility for U.S. citizenship of individuals born in the CNMI); or
  • A child (unmarried under 21 years old) or legal spouse of a foreign national who was born in what is now the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974 and Jan. 9, 1978 (also known as a stateless individual).
Applying for Parole
If you are eligible for this kind of parole, we ask that you DO NOT apply for parole until USCIS announces more specific details on how to apply.

USCIS is providing this initial information in order to address concerns of this group of CNMI residents in light of the pending Nov.27, 2011 expiration of umbrella permits to assist them in making appropriate plans for the future.

If you are eligible for this type of parole, you cannot work or apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) until you are authorized for parole. A grant of parole will provide continuing lawful presence after Nov. 27, 2011 and authorize you to apply for an EAD.

Foreign workers (aliens) working only under an umbrella permit are not authorized to be employed in the CNMI on or after Nov. 28, 2011 except for certain beneficiaries of transitional worker (CW) petitions.
This parole does not exactly coincide with the categories as stated in Sablan's bill, HR1466, the discriminatory and un-American immigration bill that Sablan introduced in April 2011. Regarding the category of qualifying foreign workers, Sablan's bill states (emphasis added):
‘‘(IV) was, on May 8, 2008, an immediate relative, as that term is defined in section 4303 of Title 3 of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code in effect on May 8, 2008, of a United States citizen, not withstanding the age of the United States citizen, and continues to be such an immediate relative on the date of the application described under subparagraph (A).
In the USCIS-issued parole, rather than referring to the CNMI Code and May 8, 2008 as the qualifying date, declares November 27, 2011 as the qualifying date. Why Sablan's bill had May 8, 2008 as a cutoff was always a mystery, but then again, there is so little in that bill that makes sense to me.

Interesting too is the fact that Governor Fitial bragged about his successful meeting with USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas in February 2011. He issued a press release complete with a photo of himself with the director. Fitial was secure that his goal to rid the CNMI of the once-valued de facto citizen foreign workers was also shared by the director. Now nine months after the meeting the governor has changed his tune, saying that the issuance of parole on a case-by-case basis was “shocking and contradicts promises made in February 2011.”

The Saipan Tribune quoted Governor Fitial:
He said this will mean “thousands of people will remain who don't have jobs, who continue to drain scarce social resources in the areas of health, education, and welfare. Those who have jobs will continue to send money off-island rather than contributing to a growing economy. And, with non-citizen workers willing to work in highly skilled jobs for $5.05 an hour, the economy of the CNMI will remain weak.”

Fitial also said his duty as governor is to serve the people of the Commonwealth.

“They are being hurt by the refusal and failure of USCIS to perform its duties. I have instructed the attorney general to review USCIS conduct and give me advice on how we might proceed,” he said.

In terms of goals, the governor said: “The Commonwealth needs real economic growth, not cheap political promises to those who are hurting our local economy and locals who want to get jobs at a living wage. I want to be fair. I also want USCIS to do its job.”
Where do these CNMI politicians come up with these economic theories? The real economic problem for the CNMI will occur when the foreign workers leave in huge numbers. Businesses rely on the foreign workers to stay afloat. This segment of the CNMI society buys groceries, clothing, and other commodities; they pay utilities; they pay rent; and they pay taxes. The governor is ignorant to say that the foreign workers receive "welfare." No alien qualifies for social programs, which in the CNMI are only federal programs like food stamps and medicaid. Furthermore, if the governor wants the foreign workers to keep every penny on island then he should support permanent residency for them. Those with jobs will stay and bring their families to the CNMI, and those without jobs will be freed to leave to seek work in the U.S.

The governor's statement is ridiculously hypocritical. This same governor has bragged repeatedly that he was the author and promoter of the first CNMI labor and immigration law that brought in tens of thousands of foreigners. This same governor approved of the routine annual renewals of the foreign workers allowing them to stay for decades so that they became de facto citizens rather than "guest" workers.  This same governor sued the DHS and U.S. government in part because he objected to the fact that the foreign workers would be "phased out!" In his own words from the Declaration of Benigno Fitial  filed as part of the anti-federalization lawsuit:
The draft bills under consideration in both houses planned to apply the federal immigration law to the Commonwealth, which is permitted under the Covenant, but to combine it with provisions aimed at eliminating all foreign workers from the Commonwealth who could not obtain a visa under the federal immigration law. Because the Commonwealth's workforce supporting our economy is composed of about two-thirds foreign workers (most ofwhom could not qualify for such visas), I was concerned that enactment of this legislation would deepen, and expand, the economic depression that was well underway in the Commonwealth by early 2007.

. . . I presented the committees with the facts regarding the Commonwealth's economy and its reliance on foreign workers. I repeatedly emphasized that no other American community was being asked to meet all its labor needs from its own local population and that small island economies have a wide range of disadvantages in developing a modem, self sustaining, economy - one of the most significant being a shortage of labor.
In the Complaint for Declaratory Relief, the CNMI government, under this governor stated:
Due to its geographic isolation, its small population, and its economic situation, the Commonwealth's labor market is heavily dependent on foreign guest workers. At present, the Commonwealth's U.S. citizen workforce numbers roughly 11,000 persons. The non U.S. citizen workforce numbers roughly 19,000 persons, only a small percentage of which are FAS citizens or other persons who are not guest workers. As a result, approximately two-thirds of CNM1's private-sector workforce consists of foreign guest workers. In the critical hotel industry, foreign workers constitute about 65% of the workforce. 
. . .P.L. 110-229 will not only severely damage the Commonwealth's economy, it will also rend its social fabric. The 24,000 foreign workers and their families in the Commonwealth make up roughly 40% of the Commonwealth's total population. Many of these people have lived in the Commonwealth for over a decade. Moreover, the families of foreign workers include thousands of U.S. citizen children. Under the provisions of P.L. 1 10-229, these children's parents are subject to expulsion from the Commonwealth over the next several years. even if they otherwise could have remained gainfully employed in the Commonwealth. When required to leave, these parents will be forced either to separate from their children and find another home for them in the Commonwealth, or to take these U.S. citizen children away from their home country and the incalculable opportunities and benefits of growing up in the United States. In short, the societal, familial, and personal damage that will be caused by P.L. 110-229 is as severe as its economic impact.

The Commonwealth values its foreign guest workers. The Commonwealth's guest workers are deeply enmeshed in the Commonwealth's economy and society. About 8,000 of these workers have lived in the CNMI for more than five years. Some have lived there for more than 15 years. Foreign guest workers are employed by hotels, banks, restaurants, factories, and individual employers. Many of these workers have children born in the CNMI, who are citizens of the United States. These foreign workers form the backbone of the Commonwealth's economy and are an essential component of the Commonwealth's community.
This governor not only lacks a heart, but a memory.

Selective Heart from CNMI Leaders
Fitial claims to have his "heart" with the CNMI people. What he means is that he has his "heart" with the indigenous people. The foreign workers are also the "CNMI people" but this governor sees them as less than people, as disposable commodities. In the same way, Sablan has "heart" only for the legal, long-term foreign workers with a U.S. citizen spouse or child. He has no heart for the 12,000 foreign workers without a U.S. citizen spouse or child that he so heartlessly omitted from his defective bill.  Both the governor and Sablan have selective "heart", and selective compassion. Both the governor and the delegate need to expand their tiny hearts for the sake of all of the people who call the CNMI their home.

Delegate Sablan made some comments to the Saipan Tribune about joining his congressional caucus allies to support an Amicus Brief that opposes the Alabama law, which discriminates against immigrants, and contains provisions that pre-empt federal law. (See this post.) It is being challenged by the USDOL, as it should be. The law is terrible, as is a similar CNMI law, P.L. 17-1, which is also discriminatory and contains provisions that pre-empts federal immigration law. P. L. 17-1 requires local alien registration and other questionable provisions.

Why don't Sablan and his congressional friends also urge Attorney General Holder to oppose the CNMI law?  Whether he admits it or not, Sablan has a record of supporting a higher level of status and justice for aliens in the mainland, than he does for the aliens in the CNMI. His bill's co-sponsors, many considered as the nation's respected "immigration reformists", also maintain a double standard by supporting inferior status and justice for the legal aliens of the CNMI, and a higher level of status and justice for the undocumented and legal aliens of the U.S. mainland. Sablan's immigration bill, H.R. 1466, proves that he urges lesser status including restricted travel and disenfranchisement and selective justice for the aliens in the CNMI. His position, and the position of his congressional allies is public record and well-documented here.

The Tribune quoted Sablan as saying:
Sablan said there's nothing in the U.S. immigration law that says these 12,000 workers are entitled to improved status.

“What I'm trying to do is help U.S. citizens who happened to have immediate relatives who are third country nationals. That's what I've always said I would help,” he added.
Well, Congressman Sablan, there is nothing in the INA that states that 11 million undocumented aliens should have permanent residency (they should) and a pathway to citizenship (they should), but you joined your congressional allies in supporting comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act!  Some honesty would be nice. Why not tell the Tribune what you told me –that you would tell the 12,000 to "GO HOME!"?

If Congressman Sablan wants to exclude 12,000 CNMI legal, long-term foreign workers who have no U.S. citizen relative then he needs to own up to the fact that he has supported legislation that would upgrade the status of undocumented aliens in the U.S. mainland who have no U.S. citizen relative. He also needs to own up to the fact that he signed an Amicus Brief that opposes "50 inconsistent state policies toward immigrants is a level of chaos the Founders sought to avoid." How can he and the co-sponsors of HR 1466 sign an amicus brief like this and at the same time propose a CNMI-only status? Disingenuous and hypocritical at the very least for the co-sponsors, and also truly heartless of Sablan who has lived for decades with the 12,000 foreign workers that he has caused great harm to with his self-serving and discriminatory legislation.


Anonymous said...

Mom, thanks to you for standing up for us. We can't fight the heartless without help. Now the ones who got status here may be forget they were where we are.I am here 27 years, no US kid or wife.no pay from last boss.

Anonymous said...

Actually Sablan vocally supported the 2010 DOI recommendations that were put forth by Babauta.

Anonymous said...

Why waste your time even thinking or writing about this? Fitial is just setting up for an attack point against Kilili in the delegate election. The legally illiterate dreamers who are most of Fitial's still-believing constituency don't know or care that what Fitial proposes is clearly illegal. Remember, Joe Camacho ran an election campaign based on a promise of illegal hiring preferences, and now he's a judge!

Wendy Doromal said...

9:43 I stand by and advocate for ALL legal, long-term foreign workers, not some. I suggest that you and the other 12,000 foreign workers who were callously omitted from Sablan's bill contact the co-sponsors of HR 1466 and tell them your stories. Also ask them why they support a pathway to citizenship for undocumented aliens in the U.S. and nothing for you. There contact information is HERE.

Wendy Doromal said...

9:53 Actually he did nothing about supporting it. He waited until well after the election to introduce an inferior status bill.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:23 16,000 people are not a waste of time. The truth is not a waste of time.

Anonymous said...

Noni 10:23 Delegate election huh? Right now Kilili represents only the best of the worst. I'm not even sure I would vote for him. Maybe we're sick of having to vote for the least bad of several bad candidates. I am.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the honest article. Both officials stick it to the OCWs in their own way. The outspoken OCWs with US IRs love Kilili and forgot their own countrymen like the 1st commenter said. He's been here in the NMI 27 years and I bet that's a lot longer than some of the OCWs with US IRs. Fair? No way! Both officials supported green cards at some point. It's damn scary how election strategies rule peoples' lives.

Anonymous said...

This...... from a man who feels HE is above the law. I swear.... this gov is a total disgrace to the Carolinian and Chamoru people.

Anonymous said...

the "people" love this guy. He is like a god to them. any crumbs he provides them are like manna from above. They fear him and love him. the game in the CNMI is to provide as many friends and family with secure (read FEDERAL Funded) jobs as possible. It is merely a game and alien workers are just a part of that game.

Wendy Doromal said...

7:51 People should not be used as pawns for anyone.

Anonymous said...

If you read the governor's words from his lawsuit you get an idea of just what kind of snaked tongued, double-talking opportunist he is.

Anonymous said...

stop those political tactics...its time to vote wisely....vote those who have brains and heart...otherwise CNMi will be moving like a coconut crab...one step forward...5 steps backward.

Anonymous said...

Like the Grinch they have hearts "two sizes too small."

Anonymous said...

Fitial is smart and he is winning. Largely due to the inability of those on the opposite side to even remain on speaking terms. He has splintered his opposition, and you all played right into his hands.

Wendy Doromal said...

12:45 I can't speak for others and do not know who "you" is when you say, ". . .you all played right into his hands." I can only speak for myself. This is not a game. The only people that I support and advocate for are the legal foreign workers (all of them, not some). I support justice, equal rights, and progressive democratic reform. The legal, long-term foreign workers have no friend in Fitial and they have no true friend in Sablan.

I will expose the truth in all matters that affect the foreign workers, because someone in a position of power to institute REAL reform and offer REAL US status to all of the legal, foreign workers could actually hear and step up to introduce proper legislation.

I do not care what political party a heartless official belongs to. If he is harming the foreign workers and their cause, I will expose them. My loyalty is only with truth, justice and the interests of ALL of the legal, long-term foreign workers. Sablan maintains two political agendas. He supports a higher US permanent residency status and just reform for the 11M undocumented aliens in the mainland, and an oppressive and unjust status for only 1/4 of the legal foreign workers in the CNMI. He callously and purposely proposed to exclude and inflict irreversible harm to 12,000 legal aliens. This double standard is not okay with any human rights advocate or any immigrant organization that I have shared it with. Not one agrees with this position.

Even while worker leaders and I asked DHS, US officials and the President for parole for ALL until such time as true legislation to address status for ALL was introduced, Sablan only asked for his select group of foreign workers. He uses excuses and threats to support his inferior bill and to maintain his callous position that he pretends is so noble. It is not; it is damaging. If HR 1466 passes as it stands, then 12,000 equally deserving foreign workers will be screwed for no other reason than because they are single, gay, childless, have foreign born children or are married to a foreigner. Any person who tries to justify that a family with US citizens relatives deserves to be considered for status and parole, while an equally qualifying single person or a family with foreign-born children or a spouse (who may have been in the CNMI 20 years longer than the other family) is not admitting the injustice, un-democratic, discriminatory, mean-spirited ugliness of that proposal. Sablan COULD include ALL.

Both of these men will take their rightful place in history as being obstacles to justice for the CNMI foreign workers. The 12,000 will not be silenced and neither will I. Keep defending Sablan's position by telling yourself that "at least some” and "families will stay together” (as you conveniently ignore that there are families without a US child or spouse who will be forever damaged). Keep believing all of the other half-truth ingredients that were thrown into the Kilili Koolaid you've been drinking, to ease your conscience. You use whatever excuse you want for not stepping up to say, "THIS IS WRONG", "THIS IS UNFAIR TO 3/4 EQUALLY DESERVING LEGAL, LONG-TERM FOREIGN WORKERS", "THIS IS UN-AMWERICAN", "THIS IS NOT JUSTICE", "THIS DOES NOT ADDRESS ALL LEGAL WORKERS AS WAS THE INTENT OF PL 110-119." There are supporters of the foreign workers who have kept silent about the deficiencies of the bill to make excuses for Sablan. Have they chosen one person's political career over 16,000 human being's futures and quality of life? Is this the choice you ask me to make? I pick the 16,000. If you pick the one man, then live with that and continue to ease your conscience with spin like the comment you made here. But please do not come on this blog to defend your position. I take it as an insult to every legal, long-term foreign worker who deserves nothing less than permanent residency and was screwed by the governor, Sablan, the CNMI Senate and the U.S. Congress.

Anonymous said...

No Wendy. They haven't chosen Kilili's political career over 16,000 nonresidents. They've chosen what is realistically possible in order to save as many as possible, over not saving any.

It's not constructive attacking those that support that. They honestly believe there is no support in congress for permanent residence based on length of stay. That doesn't mean we're bad people. It means we want to save as many as possible according to the reality of the political situation.

Vilifying everyone who doesn't conform to your position is not constructive and has helped in fracturing support. You can disagree with the idea that congress will not act on a blanket measure, without vilifying those who believe the reality is they won't and want to help who they think they can.

Wendy Doromal said...

8:21 How is asking rhetorical questions, vilifying anyone? I did not mean to vilify anyone. I am trying to understand how people can support a discriminatory bill to the detriment of tens of thousands of people. I do not believe that it is not true that that such a bill would not pass or that "there is no support" according to the people in the congressional offices that I have spoken to. They think that Congress is so gridlocked that ANY bill has a bad chance of passing. Sablan floated this idea of US citizen relatives only even before the DREAM Act passed the House and before the Congress was so gridlocked, even when the Democrats held the House, I believe that the "it would not pass" line is an excuse to justify pushing his political agenda. He has said he would not get re-elected if he included all. I believe that his concern is to get re-elected and that is the real reason that he omitted 3/4 equally deserving people, which is why I take this position. It's sad to know that people believe that the U.S. Congress would pass a discriminatory bill rather than allow 16,000 legal, aliens to have permanent residency.

Anonymous said...

si juus maase mr.fitial you saying that your poor heart for your own people who voted for you but you forgot about humanity let me remind you thousand of foreign workers has contributed for your island.your government still owe them back wages.how poor are you.why didnt you merry your own culture wife? if you really love your own people then you should not merry foreigner? you should be merry local your own island women.you really insulted all local women.its so disrespectful.isnt it? you are really bad politicians.you will totally loose tourism/your own people heart soon.your island economy will sink soon.its totally true,only military here. amen

Anonymous said...

Noni 8:21 I'm agreeing with Wendy on this one. She asked hard-hitting questions that need to be raised. I don't see her response to you as vilifying. I don't see where she said anyone was a bad person either.

In fact, the bill is very bad. Since it didn't pass by the November 27th deadline, it should be amended anyway. I, for one, agree to the changes that are recommended here: 1. Include all legal aliens; 2. Get rid of CNMI-only status and replace it with permanent residency. By giving the qualifying aliens green cards those with jobs will stay and benefit the CNMI, and those without jobs will be free to either return to where they came from or try their luck in the mainland. Everyone is pushing for locals to have jobs. How is keeping any unemployed alien, regardless of relationship to a US citizen, in the CNMI helping? Let them go with the US status they should be granted. They already sacrificed enough.

The points about the double standard are not just valid, they are disturbing for a variety of reasons. Can we trust these people? We deserve to know if the CNMI is really going to fall under the INA or if this bill is an attempt to make a separate CNMI-only immigration policy, which was what we tried to end in the first place.

Wendy Doromal said...

7:19: Thank you. Dr. King expresses best my views on this controversial issue:

"It is not possible to be in favor of justice for some people and not be in favor of justice for all people."
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

My heart and conscience tell me that his words are the truth in this situation.