Nothing Like Waiting Until the Last Minute

November 24, 2011

Angelo Villagomez, photo by W. L. Doromal
This post is republished here with the permission of the author, Angelo Villagomez. It was originally published on November 23, 2011 on his website, The Saipan Blog.

Angelo is a native of the CNMI, an environmentalist, and the main advocate behind the Mariana Trench National Marine Monument.

Thank you Angelo, for allowing me to share your complete post on Unheard No More!  This article has a strong and honest message; hopefully, some will listen and act upon it.

Take it away, Angelo:
"Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on: we cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us."
Tyler Durden
Fight Club
A segment of the population is celebrating this morning as USCIS just announced they are going to grant parole to foreign residents that meet the criteria for CNMI-only "permanent" residency under Delegate Sablan's HR 1466. This means that approximately 4,000 (or 11,000 if you believe the governor) foreign residents will be able to legally remain in the Commonwealth until December 31, 2012. This will allow time for Sablan to secure passage of HR 1466.

Here is the news release from USCIS:
Parole for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens and Certain Stateless Individuals

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. We encourage you to continue checking for updates on the latest guidance.

USCIS has exercised parole authority on a case-by-case basis in the CNMI since 2009 for special situations.

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 notauthorized to be employed in the CNMI on or after Nov. 28, 2011 except for certain beneficiaries of transitional worker (CW) petitions.
I have been silent on the immigration issue for several months now, partly because I didn't want to stick my foot in my mouth for saying something foolish, but also because the issue is complicated and multifaceted, and I was digesting the issues as developments took place.

I do not live and breathe the CNMI immigration issue the way many other people do. I read the local newspapers each day and read Wendy Doromal's blog. I also catch the posts of my friends on Facebook. From what I can tell, this development is a good one for a limited number of contract workers, and buys time to improve on Delegate Sablan's flawed HR 1466.

As Wendy Doromal has repeatedly pointed out, HR 1466 ignores 3/4 of the long term CNMI foreign workers. This means that people like Edz' mom, Emilia, who has lived and worked in the Commonwealth since 1993, giving the best years of her life to the development of the islands, will be shipped back to a country that for all purposes, is no longer her home. She's paid her taxes and never committed a crime. Under the American system she would have become a citizen over a decade ago, but under the CNMI system she was kept a second class citizen, unable to vote, and in danger of being sent "home" every year when her contract was renewed.

That is shameful and un-American. I think of my Irish family during the late 1800s and early 1900s. What if after spending a lifetime laboring in garment (!) factories, they had been sent "home" to Ireland to grow potatoes. Even considering that is outrageous, but for some reason no one has a problem doing this here.

Deporting the backbone of the local economy is going to have devastating repercussions to the quality of life here, but one cannot expect lifelong government bureaucrats to grasp the importance of having people who know how to create commerce. Throw in a little racism, alright, let's make it a lot of racism, and the mix is toxic.

Even Newt Gingrich is to the left of Sablan and the majority of the indigenous population on this issue. During the last Republican Presidential debate he stated, "If you've been here 25 years, and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're gonna separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully, and kick you out."

The other problems with Sablan's HR 1466, which can hopefully be ruled unconstitutional before advancing to the Senate, are that the bill creates a non-voting, permanent underclass of foreign-born residents and restricts travel to other US states and territories.  Others have compared this to Jim Crow, the black codes, and apartheid, which sounds really horrible and insulting on the surface, but if you actually look how Jim Crow, the black codes, and apartheid functioned, they are strikingly similar to HR 1466.  Pick your metaphor, but somebody has to call a spade a spade.

It is no secret that immigration has been a major component of America's greatness.  It has worked incredibly well for 235 years.  This new model of immigration makes me uneasy.

Many will rejoice that they will likely be granted second class citizenship in the near future, and I am embarrassed that this is the best America can do for them.  This is not the American dream, and if it spreads to the 50 states could become the American nightmare.


Anonymous said...

Last year under Barack Obama's Administration, over 393,000 men, women and children were deported back to their home countries. Half of these people were criminals. The numbers are rising. I feel sorry for the 16k workers that will be forced to leave but take this into consideration: Would it be wise for the United States to harbor Pakistani and Chinese nationals? There is probably a national security issue here. The focus has always been on Filipinos and not the other ten percent. What about them? Will the US Government grant unrestricted travel to a few hundred Pakistanis? Some of whom no doubt have ties to jihadist groups back in Islamabad. You can't simply say okay, the Filipinos can stay but everyone else must leave. That would be un American. Secondly there are no jobs in the US anymore. The majority of non resident workers will find themselves on welfare within a few weeks upon arrival. The US Government cannot and will not pay for this. I know that Angelo and you Wendy both have a personal interest in this. You both have family members who will be sent home.

the teacher said...

Kilili’s bill hasn’t passed yet, and it may not….then what? The lack of support from advocates could hinder the bills progression. This is a transition period with many issues; I would hope that all Americans would acknowledge that the first priority is the well being of US citizen children. Patience is a virtue, and desperate immigrants with a status deadline are an impossible sell in the US.

The two tiered system is awful but every worker I know prefers it (meaning CNMI only status or parole in place) to going home, especially those with citizen children. I don’t think the US Congress can pass immigration reform in this generation unless it is restrictive, meaning a very limited status, likely not including access to aid, or a path to citizenship that requires so many hoops and years that it’s comparable to a pound of flesh.

The states attempt to restrict immigrants will be futile but the national policy will be every bit as demanding and will be a take it or leave it proposal. It will require illegal’s to first identify themselves…

the teacher said...

PS And I can’t believe that long time workers with clean records haven’t applied for PR already. The reasons must be they don’t have the money because they remitted every dime abroad, or that they are owed money from their employer (in which case I would so state on my application), or that PR status is not guaranteed and there are no refund for fees, or they have some skeleton in the closet and they know they won’t qualify for some unknown reason. If I were a legal worker with nothing to hide, I would seek legal representation ASAP.

Wendy Doromal said...

Teacher (Ron): No true advocate of the foreign workers would support HR 1466 as it stands. We all know that if it passes, this will be the bill -there will be no other bill to help the people who were excluded, and thanks to Sablan's exclusive request to DHS, may already be gone. Those 12,000 foreign workers who Sablan excluded in the bill could now be forced to leave the CNMI without the thousands of dollars that their unscrupulous, criminal employers stole from them under the watchful eyes of the CNMI and US governments.(What has Sablan done to address this outrage and the wage theft problem? Anything?) Sablan not only excluded 12,000 equally deserving legal, long-term foreign workers from the bill, but unlike the advocates and foreign workers who asked DHS and the Administration to grant parole for ALL legal, long-term foreign workers until status was decided for ALL (I, for one, sent petitions, letters and reports on behalf of ALL foreign workers to DHS, Obama and all affected US Departments), this Congressman asked only for those covered under the categories in his discriminatory bill. The request was honored and will inflict harm to those left out and also to their families. (And yes, families without a US citizen member matter too.) The bill runs counter to American principles and the ideals upon which our nation was founded. It hurts people. It is un-American, undemocratic, divisive, continues the existence of a two-tiered society and probably is unconstitutional. If it does pass, the law will be challenged in court. We need someone with moral courage to introduce a much better bill. I will be working to get a decent bill introduced.

Anonymous said...

Ron, pro bono legal representation is simply unavailable to most CNMI contract workers. That is why they must rely upon such resources as the USCIS website, this blog, and Bruce & Maya's column.

Anon 0300, it is unfair to suggest Wendy is motivated by self-interest because of relatives. Her commitment to the welfare of CWs shines through her actions for decades. Angelo, too, been consistent in his views.

I also care for my friends and relatves who are CWs. For this very reason I opposed federalization; its consequences to the CNMI and poorest CWs were so sadly predictable to someone schooled in and familiar with economics, and so cruelly ignored by Congress in refusing to do a study before passage of Pub. L. 110-229.

Yet F-Day (28 Nov 09) is water under the bridge. Now we must move on in raising awareness of the growing humanitarian crisis. Perhaps Congress can be shamed into rectifying its prior mistakes, and military airlift provided those who wish to evacuate.

Green Cards for All!

Wendy Doromal said...

Hello 11:16 I am motivated by 16,000 foreign workers and 5,000 to 6,000 other nonresidents who have been given a raw deal by my country and deserve more. My relatives are among them.

We don't need an airlift. We need to have a working Congress to pass legislation that will give green cards to all and set these people free.

Anonymous said...

workers are legal here we dont come here as a tourist,almost are not criminals.why dont mr.obama use his power for legal workers to become a can check them back ground.this is a horrible situation on CNMI. why are you guys so unfair? why not fair for all cnmi alien killi why are you playing politics on innocent people.what you will get? just for vote? so badddd a good human being day you have to die ?please do not forget that. mr.obama where are you please do not pretending like you dont know the CNMI situation.what kind of hope in USA by mr.killi. its an killing hope for innocent this the human right? pplease be positive.please show your heart like an good american/common human not politician. thannk you

Anonymous said...

mr. fitial is buden on his way he will know karma....he is too much now...i just ask to mr.fitial how r u become as usa citizen? by born or by take over by must know you are not really american or from guys are immigrant from some where this island is not belongs to u.just think about it sir? you too much now, no respect to another human will consider as a burden human being toooo.just wait for your time karmma behind you...take care

the teacher said...

3:00 You get this week’s award for ignorant and racist blog comments, and given the field here and on MV, that is a disturbing distinction.

Rest assured that 16k workers will not be forced out of the CNMI. Harbor is a disingenuous choice of words in your context. The US has over 6 million Muslim Americans and Chinese Americans have labored to build America since the early 19th century(see golden spike and transcontinental railroad), sir. To say “there are no jobs in the US anymore” is ridicules but sadly the economic crisis may have had adverse effects on the status of long time guest workers here. I don’t know that Angelo and Wendy have affected family members, but your point was preposterous.

Yes Green Cards I’m sure that is correct. The comment many current green card holders make on this issue is “they better not give them out free or I want a refund”. Not much in this world is free, but we do have enough experienced legal expertise in the immigration arena that an appointment is not required or could be secured within a week. Bruce and Maya are busy but I would expect they still accept walk in clients. Federalization didn’t doom the place, there hasn’t been an answer for the economics since China entered the WTO, and it is certain to worsen.

Green Cards for All! said...

This action by USCIS in the CNMI is better than what is going on elsewhere in the nation.

Compare Ruben Navarrette, “Obama deporting more parents of U.S. citizens,” Contra Costa Times, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, available at with Maya Kara and Bruce Mailman, “Parole versus CW status,” Saipan Tribune, Saturday, November 26, 2011, available at

Anonymous said...

3:00 is partly correct here. The US must protect its citizens first and foremost. That is in the Constitution. You DO NOT give blanket status to 16k people without an extensive background check. I am confident the vast majority are good hardworking people, if only one is a hardened criminal or terrorist, then it is wise to root that one out.

Wendy Doromal said...

3:00 is ignorant and a racist. No one suggest blanket status -it is suggested to give permanent residency status to LEGAL, longterm foreign workers.

Anonymous said...

The lack of CNMI consulates abroad and lack of any ability to do meaningful background checks of potential terrorists and spies from Communist China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines (Abu Sayaff, NPA, etc.) was used as the primary justification for federalization.

The lack of screening of these de facto citizens carries equal weight against giving them any sort of de jure status.

TAGLISH said...

Today, Nov. 27, 2011 a historical day and yet seems just ordinary day. It's Sunday and my spirit was lifted by today's Gospel and Fr. Ryan Jimenez's Pastoral Letter to us.

I prayed that the everyone here in CNMI got his message.

He pointed out pertinent social teachings of Catholic Church to guide in dealing with immigration. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops, through its pastoral letter Strangers NO Longer, emphasized 5 guiding principles, such as;
1) all people have the right to find opportunity in their homeland;2)all people have a right to migrate in order to support themselves and their families;
3)nations have the right to control their borders;
4)refugees & asylum seekers should be protected by the international community; and
Fr. Ryan states, "At the core of this basic teaching is biblical testimony that every person is created in the image and likeness of God. "God created man in his in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them"(Genesis1:27)
to continue

TAGLISH said...

continuation on Fr. Ryan's Pastoral Letter

"...there should be no room for hatred with our fellow human being."

He said, "This call for respect, practice of charity and solidarity is grounded in Sacred Scriptures. From God's command to the Israelites to "treat the alien who resides with you no differently than the natives born among you; have the same love for him as yourself; for you too were once aliens in the land of Egypt" (Leviticus 19:34), to Christ's pronouncement that his followers will be judged by how well they welcome the stranger(Matthew25:35), to St Paul's claim that "you are no longer stranger and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens and members of the household of God"(Ephesians 2:19), we, likewise should embrace members of our community with love and respect. After all, when people of different origins are welcomed, God is revealed: "I was a stranger and you welcomed me."(Matthew 25:35)

Just wnat to share with your readers and to you, Ms. Wendy. Complete copy is on today's NOrth Star.

I am blessed and my prayers goes to everyone, CWs or not.

Wendy Doromal said...


Thank you for sharing the letter. I posted it above for all who would like to read it. I will be posting a message for the workers tonight -my heart is with you today.

Wendy Doromal said...

2:21 I just saw this comment. You said, "The lack of CNMI consulates abroad and lack of any ability to do meaningful background checks of potential terrorists and spies from Communist China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines (Abu Sayaff, NPA, etc.) was used as the primary justification for federalization.

The lack of screening of these de facto citizens carries equal weight against giving them any sort of de jure status.

The is no CNMI consulate because the CNMI is a Commonwealth of the United States! The U.S. screens people. The U.S. does background checks on all of the legal, nonresidents before they get permanent residency. They also conduct biometrics on incoming foreign workers.

Terrorist was not a primary reason for federalization, but border security was. I hope you are not suggesting that terrorists are only from foreign countries. Have you forgotten the Oklahoma City bombing?