Navigating Through Change

December 22, 2011

Attorney Maya Kara made some revealing statements at a conference entitled Human Resources: Navigating through Change, that was sponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management. The former Acting Attorney General and former CNMI Department of Labor hearing officer described the CNMI labor and immigration system as "so lax,” where no one bothered with foreign workers who did not have permits.

She said, "That's probably how we ended up with this large, unemployed foreign population.” Of course, advocates, concerned members of the U.S. Congress and federal officials have been pointing out the flaws of the CNMI system for decades, while CNMI officials called us liars, hired lobbyists to maintain the system, and claimed in Fitial's anti-federalization lawsuit that the CNMI system was a better system than the federal one.

Finally, a former hearing officer, one who formerly defended the system and helped to cover up the flaws, has stepped forward to admit that the deficiencies of the system contributed to the critical immigration and labor fiasco in the CNMI that must be justly addressed.

Kara also told the conference that foreign workers are "being exploited mercilessly through sponsorship schemes." The Saipan Tribune quoted her:
“As a hearing officer, I saw sponsorship schemes day in and day was just real apparent to me, how much of it was going on,” said Kara.

“What I'm angry about sponsorship is that it's a matter of preying on the most vulnerable segment of society for pure financial motive,” she told Saipan Tribune. “Rip off the people who are desperate, basically. To me, that's just wrong.”

While many had hoped that the sponsorship industry will go away with the federal takeover, Kara emphasized that “it's alive and well.”

“I'm hoping USCIS will weed it out but it's going to take them awhile because these adjudicators are in California and they don't really understand the CNMI reality,” said Kara, adding that she believes they will “go pretty easy” and “lenient” on CW applications on the first year.
It is not only "wrong", I am fairly certain that the action of the scammers is also criminal. Will the United States government actually do something now to stop this abuse or will they act as they have for the last three decades and generally ignore and allow these abuses? There is no way that $6.1 million in unpaid judgments could accumulate if federal government officials had done their job. There is no way that thousands of foreign workers could come to work on U.S. soil and leave as penniless victims if the U.S. government had ensured justice for the victims. How many foreign workers will be scammed; how many scammers will walk before the criminals are stopped?


Anonymous said...

USCIS make cw-1 but they were said that they cant make or add this poor alien workers to H1 ot else usa immigrato visa program...but if my question to them if you can creat bandage/chetar CW-1 then you cant pass fair immigranto/visa/bill? wher you bring CW-1 bandage to hurt more to cnmi foreign workers,,we are long time been here,,your usa bandage cant feel our pain we are legally by cnmi immigration...they continue us for 5 or 10 or more years,,,is that our fault to stay legally here for many years,,,not at all,,its cnmi immigration/employer,,,you guys must pay off our hard work,,,
its time for christmas,,,,we are so innocent,,,,we still love usa,,we believe in usa,,,,,hope u guys will give us unexpected gift,,,not pain,,,we are sanwich nowwww,,,,three of you making money not us,,,,1-uscis 2-cnmi government 3-employer(cheap for them then before,,easy to abuse CW policy)CW POLICY its totally abusing us with fear/ you guys think we all foreign workers(not united fear philipinos/chinese/bangldeshis/others are foolish?yup 100% thats why CW here otherwise not at all they dont deserve greencard/PR card...all are lack off united,,they use to live slavery,,they like to slave them self. three controllers are controlling them by fully abused policy,,three are taking them advantage,,,do u imagine if all foreigner just leave next year then what will happen to this three controller?them abused system will shut down one time,,,i think they never thought,,,,,please respect the time,,,,time to help/forgive merry X-massssssss to all ...amen

jolly saint nick said...

Of the 11k or so more than half are bogus and as many as 2/3. They don't qualify for upgraded visas, have no work or skill here, and the CW rules were so easy and cheap they practically asked for anglers to abuse the system.

Past non-payment, current immigration fraud workers are 100% participating in, and an economy sure to what to do. A Congress that won't act of immigration and a corrupt Governor here for 3 more years operating the monopoly as usual.

Merry Christmas from the Island of Saipan, where America's day begins!

Anonymous said...

It interesting that only now this lawyer comes out and states this fact that so many knew in the past and even now under the Feds.

The DOL and local Immigration officials (prior was DOLI)were the biggest perpetrators and abusers along with many of the elected and "connected".
I had, over the years (even when I was in the NMI Govt) been approached by NMI DOL and Immigration officials (and also elected) and "told" to "hire" certain persons even though I did not need additional workers nor the worker was qualified.
I only had to supply the paperwork and contract and the workers would pay the fees and be approved.
Many other times I have had workers come to me for a legitimate job as they were under a sponsorship by public officials or DOL people and were getting screwed over big time.
They literally were captive slaves.
Two in particular were literally sex slaves along with being a servant for the extended family.

In one particular case I took a large business to court for one prospective employee that I wanted.
Another time another court action for an employee that was under a sponsorship scheme that DOLI refused to let transfer from one of their officials.
With the support of Pam Brown at those times we prevailed.
Shortly after that the director went down.(and some others)

The other area is the "bonding companies.
<many of these companies were owned by the very same people and there was actually no bond issued only a paper to satisfy the requirements.
Other times there was absolutely no Bond but an approval was made because of the name of the sponsor.

I have also am guilty and have "helped" some of the workers out under sponsorship schemes so they could find other employment or work freelance.
Mostly these were GF or BF of my workers.
Pam knew of many of these schemes by others but I am not privileged with any other info as to the outcome other than knowing that she was working on many such "suspicions" when she was the Ombudsman and then the AG.

It will be interesting to see if the Feds. start prosecuting any of these schemes and what the penalties will be.
The statement of these schemes being from Calif. is not completely true.
There are numerous ones by many individuals and companies right in the CNMI.
Many are the same companies and individuals that were involved before.
Problem now is it is a Fed. crime and the possible penalties can be severe.
I do hope that the Fed get on this.

Pam Brown said...

The only thing worse than sponsors is the failure of CNMI DOL to understand even their own laws. P.L. 15-108, as amended by P.L. 17-1, section 4954 requires the last employer of record to pay the repatriation costs for each alien worker. CNMI DOL hearing officers have routinely held that this means that the last employer who entered into an approved employment contract with the alien was liable for this regardless of the immigration status of the worker. Further, even employers who may employ these workers illegally (when they are out of status) are jointly liable under this section of law. P.L. 15-108 went into effect in 2007 and was amended in 2010 by P.L. 17-1. Both of these laws clearly state the above requirement in section 4954. In 2008, CNMI DOL, however, provided employment contract forms to employers that contained a sentence in the repatriation benefits section that the employer was no longer liable for repatriation costs once the alien was no longer a worker which is in direct conflict with P.L. 15-108, as amended. As with any other statutory right, contracts that conflict with controlling law are null and void. Instead of enforcing its laws, CNMI DOL Alfred Pangelinan is advising employers to report aliens seeking repatriation benefits to DHS for removal instead of telling them to supply the ticket as requested by the alien and as required by P.L. 15-108, as amended.

You wonder why this place is in such a total state of confusion and economic decline. When is a law a law and why would any foreign investor want to set up shop in a place that does not follow its own laws?

Green Cards for All! said...

Thank you so much, Pam, for following up on our exchange of comments by doing the research and publishing the results in black and white complete with code citations and analysis.

If CNMI Department of Labor officials will not enforce the law, let us hope the courts will do so.

Perhaps some stranded foreign national worker will sue their former employer in Superior Court pro se for a repatriation ticket.

They could then possibly use the pendency of this litigation as a defense to removal in the Saipan Immigration Court, claiming that they want to voluntarily depart, but cannot yet do so due to no fault of their own. There is a big difference in future U.S. immigration consequences from being “removed” and being allowed “voluntary departure”.

If the Saipan Immigration Court does not recognize a “repatriation expense pending litigation” exception to removal, then those immigration cases could be appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals and then the Ninth Circuit.

If there is a large former lawyer owing more than $75,000 in repatriation expenses (for 75 workers, for instance), then they collectively might want to bring suit in the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, with jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2).

Green Cards for All! said...

With respect to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(2) ($75K diversity jurisdiction), there would only be jurisdiction if each worker is not an alien admitted to the United States for permanent residence, which would seem to apply to the facts of contract workers seeking repatriation.

Did any garment factories default on repatriation obligations? Such federal lawsuits could also include bonding companies as co-defendants.

GCfA! said...

Needless to say, I meant “large former employer” rather than “large former lawyer” in the final paragraph of my 03:56 post. (!)