2011, A Year of Attacks on American Principles

December 29, 2011

As I reflect on 2011 and attempt to come up with some positives about the year, I can only conclude that the most positive event of the year is that it is finally coming to an end.

This year will be remembered for the decline of civil rights, constitutional rights, democracy and justice in the United States of America.  Who we claim to be as a nation is no longer who we are. We demand that other countries maintain principles that are no longer consistently upheld in our own country.

The attacks that have weakened our country's basic belief system have not come from some civilian rebels or external forces. They are the result of the deliberate and mean-spirited actions of politically-motivated elected "leaders" who were entrusted to uphold our American principles. Assaults on voters' rights, workers' rights, and immigrants' rights grew from Republican agendas aimed at advancing their power and control as they trampled democratic principles and fundamental freedoms.

Some attempts to hold back the political wave of destruction is evident. The U.S. Department of Justice has rejected states' voting proposals to require photo ID at voting booths, limit early voting and other restrictive measures that have been proposed by Republican majority legislatures. Redistricting maps that would suppress the Black and Latino votes and run counter to the Voting Rights Act are being challenged in Michigan and Texas. The U.S. Department of Justice has also filed lawsuits against states that have attempted to preempt federal immigration law by enacting oppressive state laws that target immigrants. If the CNMI's new immigration-labor law proposal passes, it too could be challenged.

The most significant push back may have been from those living and working in the U.S. – the angry citizens and oppressed de facto citizens considered the 99%. The elected officials who stuck it to workers, attempted to weaken unions and passed mean-spirited legislation are now facing recall across our nation thanks to grassroots groups composed of the outraged citizens that they attempted to silence.  In 2011 Occupy Wall Street, a protest against greed and corruption, grew across the nation spreading to numerous U.S. cities. It even reached across the ocean to the CNMI as Occupy USCIS was established to demand rights for the foreign workers. Occupy DC is planning to Occupy Congress in January 2012. Expect the mild protests and outrage of 2011 to reach a boiling point and explode in 2012.

Of course, it has not just been the state officials who have chiseled away at our nation's principles. Members of the U.S. Congress have also become the destroyers, rather than the defenders of democracy and justice. The American people have had to watch helplessly as our "leaders" employed childish brinkmanship and partisan political games, even as the quality of life for the average American continues to plummet. The 112th Congress has produced no significant bills in 2011, even as Americans face financial, health and retirement disasters on both societal and personal levels.

Members of Congress belong to an elite group with the vast majority being wealthier than the average citizen.  They appear oblivious to the need for legislation to address our country's woes as their wealth and power creates distance from the needs of the typical struggling American. In 2011 we witnessed criticism of a Democratic health care bill, but a workable alternative from the critics has not been introduced. We heard "leaders" blaming the current Administration for job loss, but instead of passing legislation to grow jobs, we have seen legislation aimed at reducing the length that a jobless person can collect unemployment benefits. Instead of working together to pass a balanced budget, members of the U.S. Congress have behaved like a gang of teenagers playing Russian Roulette with the American peoples' lives. In August 2011, these elected officials managed to get the U.S. credit rating downgraded for the first time in history as they argued like spoiled brats about the budget.  Instead of acknowledging that revenue must be raised in the form of taxes, the majority wants to keep taxes unjustly low for the wealthy and corporations while the poor and middle class continue to carry the burden and suffer under its weight.

A recent poll showed that 76% of the American people think that the present members of Congress should not be re-elected; they have earned only an 11% approval rating in another poll.  Why have the American people allowed our Congress to become our nation's powerful and rich aristocratic body that functions primarily to benefit the special interest groups that fund their re-elections? Today only those with power, established political ties and wealth can run for office and get elected in the U.S. What is democratic about this?

Amidst all of the political mess and Washington games, for me the biggest disappointment of 2011 has been the fact that members of Congress who have become proud and outspoken advocates for the rights and improved status of the oppressed immigrants in our country, have shamelessly reversed their progressive stand by supporting H.R. 1466.

In May 2009 I participated in an Immigration Roundtable with members of the Hispanic, Progressive and Asian Pacific American Caucuses. The central message, continually repeated at that gathering was, "We must not attach isolated reform measures to bills that would address only one issue in a piece meal fashion. Rather, we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform that embraces all immigration issues including the DREAM Act, visa issues and even CNMI green cards for nonresidents." So how did these members –Gutierrez, Napolitano, Velazquez, Baca, Honda, Grijalva, Gonzalez, Chu, Sablan and others– come to betray the legal foreign workers of the CNMI? These immigration champions should be the ones supporting permanent residency for and a pathway to citizenship for the CNMI's 16,000 legal, long-term foreign workers, yet they are the very co-sponsors of H. R. 1466, a restrictive and oppressive immigration bill.

Rather than advancing the principles and ideals of our great nation, H.R. 1466 will take our country backwards to reflect some of the very same unjust provisions that were written in the post-Civil War Black Codes to regulate the freed slaves. These un-American, undemocratic laws restricted travel and employment and denied basic human and civil rights by prohibiting these second-class citizens from voting, serving on juries and holding government offices. These exact provisions of travel and employment restrictions and disenfranchisement are contained in H.R. 1466 to regulate some (only some) of the CNMI's legal, long-term foreign resident workers. This kind of shameful status should not even be considered as a way to upgrade the status of dedicated legal long-term foreign resident workers in 2011. It has been 150 years since the Black Codes scarred the reputation of the United States and now I watch in amazement as those who call themselves the immigration reformists attempt to revive them.

Since April 2011 I have questioned how outspoken members of Congress who advocate for an estimated 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. mainland to be provided with a pathway to citizenship, can co-sponsor a bill that would deny the same status for the CNMI’s estimated 14,000 to 16,000 legal aliens. I have received no answers.

We cannot expect any Congress in the near future to embrace comprehensive immigration reform when members of the present 112th U.S. Congress are looking at immigration as a segmented issue where each state and territory can have its own separate and restrictive immigration status and rules under the INA. If H.R. 1466 passes as it stands, it will set a dangerous precedent making it possible to see an Arizona-only status or Alabama-only status, further weakening our immigration system.  If H.R. 1466 passes as it stands, it will maintain the very status quo that P.L. 110-229 attempted to end. It will continue the two-tiered society where the estimated 1/4 that are covered by the bill will continue to have their travel restricted and remain disenfranchised even after decades of legal residence.  If H.R. 1466 passes as it stands, a staggering 3/4 of the total CNMI foreign worker population, equally deserving long-term workers, will remain excluded from any upgrade in status or protections of any kind. This is how congressional members view the CNMI's legal foreign workers, the people who have contributed to the economic and social well-being of an American community for years and decades in 2011.

As a person who supports justice, equality and democratic principles, I cannot and will not support H.R. 1466 unless it is amended to include all of the legal, long-term foreign workers and provides permanent residency, not some inferior and restrictive CNMI-only status. I cannot and will not support or defend any member of Congress, any congressional staffer or any member of the Administration who supports this bill as it stands or defends it with excuses like: "This is all we can get expect from this divided Congress", "This Congress doesn't want to address immigration issues", or "We are lucky to get anything passed."

After P.L. 110-229 was diluted to the detriment of the foreign workers and supporters of democratic principles, I accepted the officials' apologetic excuses and false promises that another bill recommending status would follow.  After the November 2007 mark-up hearing, against my better judgment, I supported P.L. 110-229 even though I knew it was seriously flawed because it lacked a status provision that would grant permanent residency to the CNMI's legal long-term foreign workers. I believed officials who promised me that a status bill would follow. They failed to fulfill their promise. I will not make the mistake of supporting inferior and potentially damaging legislation ever again.

I am an educator. I have heard all of the excuses. I return inferior work as many times as I have to until it is refined to reach the level of acceptable quality product. I expect nothing less than quality, effective products from elected officials.  Members of Congress owe it to the American people to produce quality legislation that will move our country forward to the benefit all of the people who live and work here.

America is only as great as we, the people, demand it to be.  Our Congress only acts as we, the people, allow it to act. I believe that Americans deserve and expect more than what this Congress has given us. We expect our country to progress, not to regress. We require reform, not excuses. We deserve legislation that reflects and strengthens our fundamental American principles of justice, equality and democracy; not legislation that conflicts with and weakens these ideals. We need policymakers who are committed to doing the right thing in every official action, not to doing what is easy or convenient. We are worthy of officials who view their elected position as a responsibility to advance the people's agenda, not as an opportunity to advance their own personal power and wealth.

It is time that the American people take back our government and make our voices heard. May 2012 be the year that we see a revival of democracy, justice, civil rights and constitutional rights for every person who lives and works on U.S. soil. If not, for most, the American dream is truly dead.

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ah, yes. A terrible year. Good riddance 2011 and all of the deceit. Here's to 2012...it could never be worse.

Anonymous said...

It's going to be worst than ever if the so called (TRAPO) TRADITIONAL POLITICIAN will remain in OFFICE i'm sure of that.

Anonymous said...

Good review of 2011 and the state of the nation. Really the decline in the USA started 3 decades ago and isn't anything new. I think things just came to a head this year and more people are admitting that the emperor has no clothes. Before we all just ignored the inevitable and made excuses for official's bad behavior. (Unless they weren't in our party.) Maybe it was too painful to admit. I think we'll see an upheaval of the status quo in Washington in 2012. People are mad as hell and ain't gonna take it anymore.

Anonymous said...

the immigration heroes are only politicians and like every politician there only looking to get elected next round. they don't give a crap about any CWs in the NMI or US. they care about votes just like kilili and fitial. noone's gonna do right by the CWs coz there's no gain for them. kilili wants to think he's a hero by putting in that crappy bill and tricking his caucus buddies to sign on. in the end it won't hurt kilili but it's gonna do big damage to the cosigners reputations. wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Mam Wendy, do you think you can do something in order to get our REBATES & STIMULUS?

Wendy Doromal said...

8:12 I am on this. Will let you know about any results. Happy New Year!

Green Cards for All! said...

A few days ago in your blog, I commented about the possibility of those who face removal in Immigration Court using the failure of an employer to honor repatriation obligations as a defense.

For those who have properly documented their attempts to obtain refunds/ rebates and the amount due, this too might be a possible Immigration Court removal defense/ appeal issue.

This very minor silver lining does not help those with valid employment, however.

Wendy Doromal said...

Good suggestion Green Cards -thanks.

Anonymous said...

that defense doesn't work in immigration court in the mainland and most likely won't be a cause for an immigration judge to not order someone who otherwise doesn't have status deported. ICE/DHS will not stay the removal for someone who has not been able to collect a debt for any number of years whether legit or not. In the mainland these folks get a power of attorney and pursue their claims from overseas. just how it works there...

Anonymous said...

Anon: The CNMI stimulus money is long gone. Forget about it.
As for your tax refund you have to keep visiting the Rev and Tax office. Show your tax filing forms to confirm if it was approved for payment and go to Dept of Finance and keep proding them. I had to do this every month for the last 2 years! I drove those two agencies crazy and they finally sent the check yesterday. YOU pick up the ball and run with it...nobody else will do it for you.BTW the gov agencies are closed Fridays and...don't go in on a Gov payday Thursday.

Wendy Doromal said...

8:10 said:

The CNMI stimulus money is long gone. Forget about it.
As for your tax refund you have to keep visiting the Rev and Tax office. Show your tax filing forms to confirm if it was approved for payment and go to Dept of Finance and keep proding them.


Where did the stimulus money go if it did not go to the intended persons? Wasn't that federal money?
Why should a person need to go to an office continually to collect money that is owed to them?

Anonymous said...

7:46 Of course it doesn't work because the USA is a greedy country that accepts the poor, uses them up and kicks them out. The principle of generosity is dead in America too. The inscription on the Statue of Liberty is dead. This article isn't what we want to read but it's true. We'll fall like the Roman and Greek Empires did if we don't reverse now.

Anonymous said...

Principles of generosity? accepts the poor and kicks them out. If you have a job here, a legal legit job, you can stay, if you were here legally when the transition period ended. How is that different from Wendy or anyone taking a job in Canada or Europe on a contract and then being required to depart when that contract ends. I can't move to the PI without getting a legit immigration status, one most likely tied in to a job or family relationship. Immigration laws are so much easier here in the US than almost all contries the CWs come from but they only bad mouth the US...... break an immigration law in the PI, China, Thailand, or even Mexico and tell me what happens to you, do you even know??

Anonymous said...

jan,1st 8:56 am.....you are right they all are uneducated poor human being thats why they are here not in them country to work hard and improve them nation,,,they have no human rights in them country?hope they have so why dont they help them country,,,and asking for to take over by anotherssssssss,,,,not accepted,,,happy new year allll

Anonymous said...

The reason all those democrats you listed, including Sablan, aren't pushing for the dream act or anything close to it is, there is a political reality that is a republican congress. Sorry, bashing them does not help your fight. A smart soldier knows when and where to fight and when and where not to, and knows not to piss off their allies. The attacks on these individuals make NO sense at all. There are realities you don't seem to grasp.

Wendy Doromal said...

10:17

You are wrong. The Republican Congress excuse is just that -an excuse. Doing the wrong thing (something that is discriminatory, unjust, un-American, and goes against the basic principles of our nation's founding documents) to harm others is inexcusable. Sablan and his staff could take the time to educate every member and staffer on the fact that the vast majority of the foreign workers in the CNMI are NOT like the undocumented aliens in the US. The CNMI foreign workers entered and stayed legally on U.S. soil for years and decades. They have earned permanent residency by virtue of their service and stay on U.S. soil. These officials do not want them to have a decent status.

I am not a "soldier" in any sense of the word. I support truth, human and civil rights and justice, not spin or some self-serving agenda. I support the foreign workers -all of them -not just those with U.S. immediate relatives. I am not going to cover-up the dangerous political actions of any person. I will never support proposed laws or actions that will cause permanent and irreversible harm to thousands of LEGAl, long-term aliens who have lived and worked on U.S. soil for decades. I do not consider these officials as allies. If they do something praiseworthy, I will praise them. If they proposal harmful actions, I will expose them.
You grasp that.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Wendy, a number of those individuals listed in your post have lead lives of real public service. I repeat, you're not helping your cause, a just cause, by bashing everyone who doesn't fall right in line with your exact opinion or solution. This is the type of thing that has fractured the organizations and individuals working towards an improvement in the status of non-residents in Saipan. It's hard for me to believe the listed are evil people bent on causing harm. How about extending the benefit of the doubt sometimes and accepting that these might be good people, who think this is the only avenue that has a chance to help as many of the non-residents as they think they can?

Wendy Doromal said...

6:14 You are so far off base that it is hard to know where to begin, but I'll try to be more clear:

1. Because someone is a "public servant" does not make them worthy of praise or mean that they are always correct.
2. No one helps a cause by supporting hypocrisy, self-serving political agendas and settling for crumbs when the full meal is available.
3. I did not say that any of these people are "evil."
4. I did not say that any of the people listed were "bad" people.
5. If permanent residency has been and is the only solution these same people support for 11 million undocumented aliens then it should be the ONLY solution for less than 12,000- LEGAL aliens. My opinion. You are free to disagree, but do not lie. Do not say that I called these people evil or bad when I did not.