CNMI Department of Labor Supports Preempting Federal Law

December 18, 2011

During the transition period from CNMI to federal immigration law, the U.S. Department of Justice,  U.S. Department of Homeland Security and USCIS will have to watch the CNMI government and CNMI Department of Labor to make sure that they are not stepping on their toes by rules and proposed legislation that preempts U.S. immigration law.  They can start with reading the new CNMI labor (and immigration) law. (An October 2011 post outlines the serious problems).

The bill would require aliens to register with the CNMI government (a federal immigration issue, not a local labor issue) and would have impose fines and jail time for those who do not register. It would require employers to ensure that foreign workers pay their medical bills at CHC and requires employers to garnish wages up to 25% if the employee has an outstanding bill. This is outside the scope of an employer making the employers of aliens collection agencies for the CNMI government.  The proposed bill is also discriminatory in that aliens who do not pay bills would have their names published in the media, yet U.S. citizens who do not pay bills would not have their names published.

The bill would require aliens to have a physical exam in the CNMI; requires a workforce participation goal; unannounced and warrantless inspections by DOL personnel; and stiff sanctions, penalties and fines for employees and employers who violate the provisions. The bill is a repellent to alien workers and to foreign investors. It is basically a revenue-generating bill that preempts federal immigration law.

Recently, it was reported that the CNMI Department of Labor is investigating whether or not CNMI employers are in compliance with USCIS rules. DOL Director Alfred Pangelinan (the new Kaipat?) stated in a press release published by The Saipan Tribune:
“We are looking at how employers sought U.S. citizen applicants. USCIS rules require a reasonable effort to locate qualified U.S. citizen applicants, and we are finding ads that do not comply with this standard,” Pangelinan said.

He referred to ads that have been determined to have failed the “reasonable” standard because they were intended to discourage rather than encourage U.S. citizens from applying.

“Some employers make themselves obscure in their job announcements, like 'we are just advertising for the sake of compliance with the law but we really do not want you to know who we are or see you. Just send your resume by e-mail' (another obscure e-mail address)-that kind of thing,” Pangelinan said.
Many employers request initial email resumes so they can screen them for qualified applicants before setting up interviews. Why should employers waste their time and the applicants' time conducting face-to-face interviews with those unqualified for a position? I am fairly certain that this is not a violation of USCIS rules.

The press release from the CNMI DOL further stated:
The CNMI Labor Department has always had jurisdiction to enforce federal labor laws, Pangelinan pointed out. The department will enforce the CNMI reasonableness requirement just like it enforces the federal minimum wage laws and other federal labor laws.

“The department is reviewing ads for compliance with CNMI law and federal rules and will be providing 'negative information' to USCIS with respect to ads that do not meet reasonable standards,” Pangelinan said.

USCIS considers negative information in deciding whether to grant an application to employ an alien under the temporary permit system.

“In addition, of course,” Pangelinan said, “current CNMI law requires all employers who intend to employ aliens to advertise the job on the Labor Department's website. Failure to do so will result in a citation and a fine if a Labor Department enforcement officer finds this violation. Once a hearing officer hears these cases, the order (as negative information) can be sent to USCIS as well.” (Labor)
The CNMI Department of Labor can enforce local labor law. The U.S. Department of Labor enforces federal labor and immigration law. The CNMI Department of Labor has no jurisdiction over immigration law. If they want evidence, then the officials may want to read the lawsuits that the U.S. Department of Justice has filed against Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina and Utah –all states who, like the CNNI, attempt to preempt federal immigration law.

After the U.S. DOJ filed the lawsuit against the state of Utah for its immigration law that is preempted by federal law, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder stated:
The federal government has the ultimate authority to enforce federal immigration laws and the Constitution does not permit a patchwork of local immigration policies. A state setting its own immigration policy interferes with the federal government’s enforcement efforts.

“A patchwork of immigration laws is not the answer and will only create further problems in our immigration system,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The federal government is the chief enforcer of immigration laws and while we appreciate cooperation from states, which remains important, it is clearly unconstitutional for a state to set its own immigration policy. We will continue to monitor and coordinate with our federal partners as we remain concerned about the potential impact of these state laws.”

“This kind of legislation diverts critical law enforcement resources from the most serious threats to public safety and undermines the vital trust between local jurisdictions and the communities they serve,” said Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.
The CNMI Department of Labor probably cannot legally require all employers who intend to employ aliens to advertise on their web-site. That is not a federal requirement and the immigration (hiring of alien workers) falls under federal rule, not local rule. It appears that the CNMI Department of Labor just cannot give up it's authority over the alien workforce even though PL 110-229 took that power away.   Maybe it will take a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit to make them understand.

If there was an award for the most corrupt and un-American agency on U.S. soil the CNMI Department of Labor would qualify as a top runner. Check out their website to see how sleazy this agency is.  The CNMI government stood by while thousands of foreign workers were routinely cheated and then when exposed by the Ombudsman and advocates who gathered CNMI DOL Administrative orders and unpaid judgements proving that $6.1 million was stolen from the workers, this corrupt agency wiped their slates clean of all past cases by merely publishing notices saying the cases were closed.

Does the CNMI government seriously think that the workers will forget that they were robbed with the blessing of the CNMI government? Look at this May 2011 list of DOL-wiped out cases,  NOTICE OF CLOSURE LABOR CASES AND APPEALS. There was also this March 2011 DOL-isuued notice, NOTICE OF CLOSURE UNPAID AWARD AND BOND CLAIMS,  that magically forgave all of the criminal employers and screwed every victim alien worker that cheated while the CNMI government did nothing.

While the CNMI DOL did little or nothing to ensure justice for the thousands of cheated alien workers over the three decades that they were victims of abuses and routine wage theft, the DOL is aggressive in ensuring rights of U.S. citizens workers. The discrimination in the way this department treats workers is evident is the Citizen Job Opportunity Notice that the CNMI DOL posted in September 2011. It reads in part:
Employers are required to consider qualified citizens fairly. If you are refused consideration, believe that you have been rejected unfairly, or find that a job has not been posted on the website, you can file a complaint with the Department of Labor, and our investigators will examine the employer’s records and summon them for a hearing if necessary.
It appears that the CNMI DOL policy is to ensure fair and just treatment for U.S. citizen employees and to screw the alien workers by ignoring and even dismissing their unfair treatment. The host countries must be informed of the wage theft and the double standard so when the CNMI government successfully removes all aliens that they deem "illegal", no new ones are ever sent to this unjust, discriminatory dot in the ocean that claims to enforce U.S. law.


Pamela Brown said...

The attempt to require employers to continue to adhere to P.L. 15-108, as amended, and its local hire percentage of employees requirement directly conflicts with both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, but also IRCA which povide as follows:

"Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits national origin discrimination in all aspects of employment, such as hiring, firing, promotion, wages and retaliation. It covers employers with 15 or more employees, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces it. If you feel like an employer with 15 or more employees discriminated against you because of your national origin, and decide to file discrimination charges, the EEOC will investigate the complaint.

The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) makes it illegal for an employer to discriminate against a person because of their citizenship or immigration status when it comes to hiring, firing, or referral. It also supplements Title VII prohibitions against national origin discrimination, covering employers with four to 14 employees. The IRCA also prohibits retaliation. The Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices at the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) enforces the IRCA's nondiscrimination requirements."
See Office of Special Counsel on Immigration, U.S. Department of Justice website.

Wendy Doromal said...

Thank you, Pam. I can only wonder why the USDOJ does not file a lawsuit against the CNMI. It's not like they do not know. I have written to them. Of course, there is only a very remote chance that any official will read or answer a citizen's letter. I hope the Ombudsman Office and USDOI has informed the USDOJ of the violations and requests action.

Anonymous said...

its an 100% discrimination on USA they think we dont know?they want to use employer and specially legal long term foreign workers to make money and kick them out.they are using them $$$$ to educate local food stamp workers then they will replace foreigners?this is them stupid imagine, the CNMI situation, its an 5.05 per hour do they think foreigner are making big money then USA.why dont they decrease them fees for to get CW or work authorization fees.its similar to USA,where people make enough bucks.what the cnmi/usa are thinking ?to observe them economic? to cheat them? or just make$$$$$?use them then kick them out?workers are innocent?local political game to get vote?USA politicians are involve? big fish eat always eat small fish..what is the meaning of democrate/freedom/justice in USA ? is this harassment/racism/communism ? In God We Trust.????? IS GOD IS DIFFERENT FOR FOREIGNER AND AMERICANS ?do you think filipinos are so stupid? do u think they will let you to be use or slave them? its been long time to use/abuse/cheat them and taking them advantage by local politicians and by employer...and its continue again by US/CNMI immigration/labor.i thank you usa for taking part...we thought you have human will stop it...but you know bad people always be take part of bad side..its too much,,,,i believe only one GOD by different believes. god bless USA we love USA.....merry X-mas.....