A Message To The Foreign Workers of the CNMI

November 27, 1011













Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore. We have seen the future, and the future is ours.” –Cesar Chavez


Sometimes a person opens a door to risk becoming a part of the scene happening outside of their comfortable, safe world. One step outside becomes a walk. The walk is joined by a few people and it turns into an excursion. The excursion is joined by many people and it transforms to a march. The march spans continents and it grows to a decades-long journey. I am so fortunate to have been able to travel for many years alongside people that I love and admire –the CNMI foreign workers who are my dear friends and family members.  Our journey is not over. It will not end until justice is achieved and true reform is realized.

Each and every foreign worker should stand proud for the immeasurable, and valuable contributions to the entire CNMI community. You should also take the time to reflect upon and celebrate the heroic efforts that you have demonstrated in the long and difficult journey in pursuit of basic rights, justice and equality.

The quest will not end on the stroke of midnight tonight. The mission must continue until the last foreign worker receives justice. I will stand by your side until the guest worker program is reformed to replace the turnstile system with one that regards foreign workers as future citizens, rather than as disposable commodities. We must continue the journey until every foreign worker who lives and works in the CNMI is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.

Some officials have suggested that I should focus on the law rather than on the fact that there is a humanitarian crisis in the CNMI. I say that the focus must be on both. Bureaucrats and officials may feel comfortable viewing issues from political, legal or statistical perspective.  Yet, it is not moral, just or wise to exclude the human element from an issue such as the urgent plight of the CNMI's legal, long-term foreign workers. I challenge all members of the U.S. Congress and every official who is responsible for determining policies and laws that will impact the lives of the foreign workers to open their hearts, as well as their minds. They must not just consider only the economic and political interests of the CNMI, but they must also determine what is in the best interest of the foreign workers who have become the CNMI's de facto citizens.

With federalization, we expected reform, justice and the implementation of a democratic system that would benefit employees and employers while providing economic stability to the CNMI. We expected a system where foreign workers would be afforded the dignity that they deserve and the respect that they have earned. We expected improved status for all of the legal, long-term foreign workers. Though still in its infancy, we have seen no restoration or preservation of human dignity under the federal transitional guest worker program.  Perhaps it needs a little more time, but we must never accept a federal guest worker program where a U.S. label has simply been slapped on the broken CNMI guest worker program.

At the Unity March in December 2007, I delivered a message to all of the foreign workers and I made a promise that I renew today: “Social justice and true reform cannot be achieved merely through legislation. It will be achieved through changing people’s hearts, through speaking out, and through education. Never stop speaking out for your rights. Speak out and stand firm for justice and for political rights for yourselves and your children. I stand united with you always.”

A look back at the journey:

2007

1998

2008
Angel Zhai, 2007 
1993

2007


Philippine Labor Attache Manny Imson and Ambassador Rabe 1997 

1998

Rota teachers 1994
2011
2008

1995


2008

1997

1995


Senator Dan Inouye, the late Rep. Patsy Mink,
former Rep. Neil Abercrombie and Senator Daniel Akaka
Photo by W. L. Doromal ©1995
2007


2011 Rabby at Lincoln Memorial

2007

2007

Before the Senate Hearing, 1998

1998

2007

Reps. Miller, Solis and Spratt ©2006 W. L. Doromal

1998

Nick Legaspi 1995

2010

2007

1998

1994

1994

Tinian 2008

1995

2008

1989

2007


1994 Manila


1995 Philippine Congressman Thomas Concepcion



1995


1993


2009

2011


2007

2009
2007





2010


Rota, 2008

2011

2007
2009

2008

Rota 2009
Love and best wishes to all of you.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

My sincere thanks to you, Wendy. You are legendary. And not just CWs, but also we US citizens should be thanking you for your work. I wish I could do 1/1000th of what you've done.

Anonymous said...

Ditto! Thanks and onward!

Anonymous said...

welldone bravo lets go backkkkkkkk one time stop work one time.no human justice in USA the super power of world by war stuff not by humanity.shame shame shame obama and also for all true americans. usa still in backward class country.my last word is may god bless USA.

Wendy Doromal said...

Thank you to ALL of the foreign workers!

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Yes, onward!