Two Sizes Too Small

November 27, 2011

"What is true of the individual will be tomorrow true of the whole nation if individuals will but refuse to lose heart and hope." –Mohandas Gandhi

Governor Fitial just loves to boast about creating the CNMI's labor law and masterminding the horrid guest worker program that was ridden with scams, wage theft and abuses. Alas, it appears that his experimental guest worker scheme seems to have evolved into a Frankenstein-esque, out-of-control program to be carried over into the federal program. At least, if one is to believe his rants and whines of the last three weeks.  With pained expressions on KSPN news, using slowly uttered, slurred words (pain killers?) Fitial rages against foreign workers, USCIS and anything preceded with the word, "federal." It is getting old. No one seems to be listening, least of all any federal officials, but the temper tantrums continue on the television and in the papers.

It is tiring to hear this governor claim that any foreign worker without a job is an illegal. If they had umbrella permits, then they are/were legal; if they were granted parole then they are legal; if they are awaiting a CW visa, then they are legal.  Illegal is conspiring with a lobbyist to grab the Speaker position in exchange for infrastructure projects; breaking a prisoner from a federal detention center for a late night massage; violating ethics and election laws; misuse of ARRA and federal funds; dealing drugs from the governor's vehicle; and stealing from foreign workers' wages. Should someone who cannot grasp the simplest of facts, or differentiate between what is legal and what is illegal really serve as the "leader" of a territory? Maybe it is time to button it and go on another trip so that the more rational Lt. Governor can be the spokesperson.

The latest day's rants suggest that the governor still does not realize that immigration is under federal control. From the Saipan Tribune:
“I will not allow this continuing parole to allow burdens, illegal aliens to stay another year. Kilili came out and said the governor should have a heart. Yeah, I have a heart for my people. Where does his heart belong? My people are suffering because they cannot get jobs because the burdens continue to proliferate (sic) their illegal employment,” the governor said. . . 
. . .Fitial said he has a “heart,” responding to a statement earlier made by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).

“I want the people to understand that I have a heart but my heart goes out to my people first. So if Kilili doesn't have a heart for his own people who voted for him into office, then he got to check his heart doctor,” the governor said.

In an interview with reporters, Sablan said he hopes that Fitial would find it in his heart on “to acknowledge that these are families we are trying to help. The holidays are here. Christmas is coming and we need to open our hearts and find in our hearts that this is the right thing to do.”
It is mind-boggling how these two politicians divide the residents of the community that they both represent in heartless statements and actions. Both Fitial and Sablan need to stop the "who has a bigger heart" rhetoric, because neither leader has a heart big enough to measure up to what is required of a statesman or truly moral leader.

Fitial has a "heart" for only indigenous people and disrespects other residents, including the foreign workers. Sablan has a heart only for 1/4 of the total population of legal, foreign workers and only those families that have a U.S. citizen relative.  Both need to open their hearts and their minds. Both leaders are purposely using their positions of power to advance a personal agendas and political aspirations that will inflict harm to others. Both leaders possesses selective "heart" and selective compassion for certain categories of people within their own community.  Both leaders base their actions and decisions on the  race, nationality, birthplace, marital status and/or nationality of immediate relatives of their community members.  Undoubtedly both have serious "heart" problems. If both of these leaders had asked the U.S. Congress to grant all of the legal, long-term foreign workers permanent residency immediately after the release of the DOI Report, it would have been a done deal. Christmas season for some? Both of these leaders are Grinches with hearts "two sizes too small."

The governor blames his perceived enemies for his flawed guest worker program and the consequences that it reaped. The Tribune reported:
The governor, now president again of the CNMI Republican Party, said the pressure comes from U.S. Senate staffer and former Interior official Allen Stayman and others who pushed for the Consolidated Natural Resources Act or the law that placed CNMI immigration under federal control.

“There's pressure on USCIS and I can tell you where these pressures are coming from. These are the same players that originated and concocted the CNRA, the federalization legislation,” the governor said in an interview.
This governor thinks that Allen Stayman, one public official who has worked for years to institute real reform, is his nemesis. He has more than this one Senate staffer to worry about. There are other officials who are not pleased with Fitial's agenda, the attempts of the CNMI to pre-empt federal immigration law and the failure of the CNMI to cooperate during the transition period.

Since May 2008, I have submitted requests to members of the U.S. Congress and officials within the Obama Administration pleading for them to back permanent residency status for all of the CNMI's legal, long-term foreign workers. When it became apparent that the U.S. Congress would not fulfill its responsibility to act on the DOI Report in a timely manner, I began writing requests asking for parole for all of the legal, long-term workers until such time that the U.S. Congress did introduce legislation to cover all of the legal, long-term foreign workers. This year I hand-delivered letters in March, June, July and October, and also have sent letters twice by certified return receipt to the President, cabinet members and co-sponsors of H.R. 1466. Twice I included letters from the United Workers Movement and individual workers' pleas.

In a June 8, 2011 letter to President Obama I wrote, in part:
I am writing to respectfully request that you take administrative action to secure the status of the legal, long-term non-resident workers in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).

. . . A U.S. Department of Homeland Security Memo to USCIS Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas has outlined administrative relief options that could be exercised in the absence of comprehensive immigration reform legislation in order to promote family unity, foster economic growth, and remove the threat of removal for certain individuals and groups present in the United States without authorization. According to the memo, “USCIS can extend benefits and/or protections to many individuals and groups by issuing new guidance and regulations, exercising discretion with regard to parole-in-place, deferred action and the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA), and adopting significant process improvements.”

Partisan politics and the debate over undocumented workers in the United States should not prevent action on implementing legislation to grant U.S. immigration status to the CNMI’s legal, long-term nonresident workers or delay taking necessary administrative action. While permanent residency with a pathway to U.S. citizenship is our goal, immediate protection is needed now. I urge you to take administrative action to grant the CNMI’s legal nonresident workers parole-in-place status, employment authorization, and eligibility to apply for employment-based visas. This action is within your power and would provide protection and relief to 16,000 de-facto CNMI citizens, ensure family unity, and provide the stable workforce needed for businesses and investors to help speed the CNMI’s economic recovery.
Attached to that letter was a letter from Rabby Syed based on an October 2010 petition; a 2008 petition which had over 2,500 online and over 5,000 written signatures; reports, testimony, letters from foreign workers and a video of the foreign workers and their children asking for green cards.

The foreign workers have Occupied USCIS for over a month with one, unified message: parole for all legal foreign workers until such time as the U.S. Congress acts to introduce legislation that would grant status to all legal, long-term foreign workers, as the CNRA intended. Sablan lacked the heart to request that all be protected, believing that HR 1466 will pass the House and Senate unchallenged, even as though it omits 3/4 of the legal, long-term foreign workers, proposes an un-American status for only 1/4 that mirrors the provisions of the post-Civil War Black Codes, and conflicts with the intent of PL 110-229.

The USCIS announced that it will allow certain categories of foreign workers to apply for parole, while all can apply for humanitarian parole. This is a federal immigration issue and regardless of the ethically challenged AG Buckingham investigating whether the CNMI Government should challenge USCIS in court, it remains a federal immigration issue, which is not within the control of the CNMI government.

Let the fight continue.  The heartless usually end up as those who are ultimately defeated.