Of the People, By the People, For the People: Not in the USA

December 16, 2011

When I started advocating for rights and justice for the CNMI's foreign workers in the late 1980s I  received responses to my letters. I also received many follow-up phone calls. The responses suggested that, at the very least, someone in a position of authority or power understood my pleas and was interested in addressing the issues. In fact, many of the problems were addressed.

I have letters from members of the U.S. Congress and from officials who served in the U.S. Departments of Labor, Interior, State, and Justice dating back decades. I also have a letter from President Bill Clinton that was a reply to a letter and petition that I sent to him. Over the years, I have received phone calls from a variety of officials, including one from Eric Holder who was serving as U.S. Deputy Attorney General. He asked questions and advised me on inquiries I made in a letter I had written to U.S. Attorney Janet Reno concerning the violation of civil and human rights of the CNMI foreign workers.

Today I have come to realize that if I submit testimony; write a report or letter; send an email; or make a call to the office of a federal official (excepting some congressional staffers and USCIS personnel), it is most likely only for purposes of documentation because typically no one will reply, or too often the reply is unrelated to the concerns in the letters. The U.S. Department of State and Labor have sent some truly ignorant replies to letters, indicating that the author had no knowledge of the CNMI, PL 110-229, or the transition from CNMI to federal immigration. Their responses also prove that the authors had no intention of researching the issues in order to give a proper response.

In late November 2011, I received a letter from Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) in response to a July 2011 letter I wrote concerning HR 1466, which she co-sponsored. The entire letter from Rep. Fudge discussed the the Ross-Issa Postal Reform Act and thanked me for contacting her office about the act. I have no clue what the Postal Reform Act is and truthfully, I do not really care.  I do care that her office sent an inappropriate and unrelated response to my letter. I care that there is an over abundance of incompetence and waste in federal offices. I care that the disconnect between the American people and our federal officials, including our elected leaders, has grown to totally unacceptable distances with impassable roadblocks, which cannot be navigated by an individual citizen.

In 1863 President Lincoln stated that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Almost 150 years later there is no such government in the United States of America. We are so far from that principle that we may never again see a time when our government functions with the people's voice as an essential element.

In October 2011 the 112th Congress received an approval rating of 9%. The U.S. going communist received a higher approval rating at 14%.  This 112th Congress  has under-performed to even exceed the nonperformance of the do-nothing Congress of 1948. The 112th Congress is so dysfunctional and incompetent that one has to wonder why we are paying the salaries of these politically motivated and self-serving members. The average member of Congress is interested more in his own re-election than in the best interest of the people of our nation.

There are few, if any, statesmen left in Washington. As I have said many times over the last year, it appears that possession of a conscience, moral values, commitment to the public good, and support for basic American principles are merely sound bites that too many members of the U.S. Congress use only while on campaign trails and discard with a wink when they enter the Halls of Congress. It appears that too many staffers echo the excuses of their bosses who so nonchalantly cast American principles aside to follow a political agenda that is simply a road map to their re-elections, a road-map that is leading our country over a cliff.

Our government is ruled by lobbyists who represent corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy. We are doomed as a nation if this trend is not stopped immediately. The CNMI's foreign workers can expect no justice from these excuse-making, finger pointing brats on Capitol Hill. I am not even sure that an election will make a difference at least for the CNMI's foreign workers since even when the Democrats had control they did nothing to address their plight.

Now it is reported that Congressman Sablan will "make changes" to HR 1466 to please Governor Fitial and his Republican allies.

The Saipan Tribune quoted the governor:
Fitial, now president again of the CNMI Republican Party, said he will give his proposed bill to Sablan because “he's the only one representing us there.”

“I don't have any ill-feeling against Kilili. He's got a problem. He's not really working and protecting his people. That's why I told him, 'don't say that I don't have a heart for people. I do have a heart for people.' This heart now belongs to the people who trusted me to serve them,” he said.

Fitial said he will wait “until it's very clear that 1466 will not be entertained” before he gives his proposal to Sablan.

When asked whether he would also consider supporting HR 1466 if Sablan addresses his concerns on the bill, Fitial said “sure.”

“You know my concern. I don't want these pregnant mothers who came here and deliver babies and wait for Kilili's bill to become reality. Those are the groups that I will never support because they are burdens. You know my definition of burden-people who do not work or people who work illegally and do not contribute (not pay taxes). PL 110-229 is intended and designed to do just that-to get rid of burdens,” he added.
Both Fitial and Sablan share one basic misconception. The "people" within a district, territory, state or nation are all of the "people" of that particular society. The "people" of the CNMI are all of the "people"– not just the voters, not just one race, not just the indigenous population, not just those who are U.S. citizens, not just those with U.S. citizen relatives, but all of the people who live and work within the community. Every person who lives in the CNMI should be regarded as "the people" and "protected".

The foreign contract workers did not go to the CNMI to have babies as Governor Fitial suggested. They went to the CNMI because they were legally recruited to work there. It was the CNMI's policy of allowing renewal for years and decades that allowed these foreign workers the time to marry, have children and raise families as de facto citizens and disenfranchised community members. Fitial suggests that those parents of U.S. citizen children who are unemployed should leave just as the long term foreign workers with no U.S. citizen connections will be forced to leave under HR 1466.

The CNMI foreign workers did not invade the CNMI or enter the islands illegally. They were recruited to fill jobs that there were not enough U.S. citizens to fill. They were continually renewed for years and decades. They have kept the economy afloat as they contribute their skills and labor, pay taxes and stimulate the economy with purchases. They are essentially de facto citizens who deserve to have their status improved to permanent residency status. If they are granted permanent residency status then those who are employed and treated well will opt to stay.  Those who are unemployed or are just plain sick of being pawns in political battles, fed up with being targets of racism and discrimination or have had enough with the ill-treatment and stolen wages can leave. That would solve the problem of the unemployed "burden" that Fitial suggests exists in the CNMI.

Should we expect that HR 1466, the inferior bill that mocked the principles of our nation, will now be made even worse? HR 1466 was already an unsuitable crumb that was tossed to 1/4 only of the total number of legal, long-term foreign workers. What will it look like after it is altered to please the congressional Republican members who are clueless about the history, the reality and the plight of the legal, long-term foreign workers? It may just transform from a crumb to an even more politically poisoned crumb. Where is a moral member of Congress who will stand up for American principles, democracy and justice and introduce legislation to benefit the majority of the legal, long-term foreign workers?

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Fitial have Filipino babies?

Anonymous said...

Wake up all indigene people. You should know that he using you like hostage. He's only one of gangster boss. He's not working for the people as Governor.
what about poor indigene people like he says people? Don't trust him and his greedy gangster group. Hmm~~~
I'm sure He is really care about only his Filipino family.

Anonymous said...

.. before, i looked up to AMERICA as a model nation. specially the application of human rights and the rule of law. now, with what is happening in the CNMI.. honestly, i feel frustrated and angry. politicians dominate the entire US nation. and they dont care about human rights anymore. what is left is the recommendation of the dept of interior.. its a legacy that AMERICA wont forget. i see AMERICA now as an arrogant, selfish and insensitive nation.. anyway, been here for 18 years already and all my expectations diminished with time. GOD BLESS AMERICA.. thats what they always say..

Anonymous said...

anon 1100, well then if that is how you feel I am sure you are gathering your things together to go to whichever country you think will offer you more opportunities than the USA. I wish you the best and expect that you will be leaving here soon as you have nothing nice to say to a country that gives your children free education in one of the world's best systems, I am sure you will stop into CHC on your way out and pay them for any medical services they provided to you and any members of your family when you needed them. I am also sure that you will reimburse the Federal Government for any benefits that you took advantage of during your 18 years here. Of course you have the right to bad mouth the USA, the country that did all these things and more for you and your family. Just make sure once you have done all those things I mentioned above you stop by the Veteran's Cemetary up at Marpi and maybe at least say a thank you to those service members from these islands who gave their lives so you could sit there and have the right to free speech that you use to slam the country while in the same breath demand that same country give you a status. While you are looking for a country to move to make sure it is one that won't throw you in jail for being so disrespectful of the host country..... we will be better off when you leave...

Anonymous said...

My friend no need to get mad to them. I'm sure nobody came here to build this island if it's not under American flag. Please give them some room to breathe.

Wendy Doromal said...

7:13 Your racist and mean-spirited comment deserves a reply. This person, anonymous 11:00, gave 18 years of his or her life to benefit the CNMI and had dreams of living in a great nation. She or he probably never even received a thank you. After 5, 10 15, or 18 years, of course, a person would be expect to receive status! This person is disillusioned and heart broken and you penned a cold-hearted, ignorant response that shows no humanity, compassion or understanding. The CNMI politician wanted the foreign workers, the businesses wanted them, the people of the CNMI wanted them to build their economy and then when the economy crashed and they were not needed they all tell them to go. No nation should treat long-term, legal workers - de facto citizens - this way.

There are no social benefits in the CNMI for any foreigner. They are not eligible for social services. (Their US children are eligible, but this person did not say that he/she has a child.) You do not know that this person owes medical bills, and I am certain that not only foreigners have unpaid medical bills. I am sure many of those bills are owed by residents. Most of the foreigners have bills because their crooked employers failed to honor the contract and CNMI labor laws that required the employer to pay for their medical expenses. The CNMI government is at fault for never prosecuting criminal employers, so complain to the CNMI government.

I do not know what country you live in or if you keep up with the news, but currently the USA is a mess and getting worse. The very reason I wrote this post was because today in the United States there are less and less rights, less justice, less democracy and less freedoms for every person on U.S. soil. We have become a country that is racist, selfish, mean, and cold-hearted. The average citizen has no voice in our government. Unless we are among the rich, we are doomed to work until we die because social security is not secure, retirement funds are not secure and taxes will have to increase. I encourage every person who lives on U.S. soil -citizen or not -to BE UNHEARD NO MORE! Good for anonymous 11:00 for expressing his/her views. I share them and I am a citizen.

I hope every cheated foreign worker will go home and tell their country's leaders how they and their fellow countrymen had wages stolen and how the CNMI and US governments did nothing to make them whole.

The thank a veteran exit idea -out of line and snarky. How do you even know if this commenter has children who are in the armed forces? Hundreds of CNMI foreign workers have children serving in the US armed forces.

Expressing views is not being disrespectful to a "host" country. What is disrespectful? Disrespectful is allowing hundreds of workers to be abused and not prosecuting the abusers. Disrespectful is not paying tax refunds and stimulus checks. Disrespectful is racism and discrimination. Disrespectful is stealing wages. Disrespectful is making excuses for oppressing people.

My husband and I hope to leave the USA as soon as we are able to. I am ashamed to say I am an American. This country is now a mere shadow of the greatness it possessed even a decade ago. It is run by corporations, special interest groups and the rich. The principles upon which it was founded are collapsing around us. I do not want to live in a country, be a citizen of a country, or pay taxes to a country that lacks human rights, supports oppression, discrimination, and is returning to the post-Civil War era in immigration laws in the states and territories including the CNMI. I do not want to live in a country where the leaders make excuses for doing the wrong thing. I want to live in a democratic nation where all people are respected and treated with dignity. I want to live in a country where there is justice for all. The United States is not that country. If I could, I would give my slot to a CNMI foreign worker.

the teacher said...

Where are you moving Wendy?

The places with the high quality of life and standard of living are unbelievably expensive and immigration is tied to wealth and the very affordable places have the same problems of crime, corruption, and poverty and immigration based on bribery and nickel dime gouging.

Our wide region is emerging above the world financial crisis but Micronesia is in the toilet except Guam…where I would never want to live intentionally. Some of the best in this region are New Caledonia, Japan, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, with China and Indonesia emerging. Their immigration laws vary depending if you were teaching or retiring, the latter being difficult and pricy. I would prefer New Caledonia, HK, or Singapore if I could afford it, but I would more prefer someplace slower like Siem Reap, Luang Prabang, several places in Thailand, Penang or KL, or a couple hidden spots in Indo.

Wendy Doromal said...

Ron: We both have job opportunities in Europe, but are also considering Canada where Boy has family. We cannot move until the housing market opens up so we can sell our house. We are not worried about immigration. I can paint, write or teach while retired. We have talked to companies and schools that have job opportunities now and will have openings in the future.

Greg Baka said...

Good luck on the sale!

I am looking to buy a house in California with a VA loan from NFCU. I figure it will be about five years before U.S. real estate prices bottom out. Until then I'll remain a lifetime renter.

(My real "home" is in Heaven.)

Wendy Doromal said...

Hi Greg

Thanks -There is no real chance to sell a house here unless a person can afford a huge loss. We can wait! Good luck on your house buying. I like your comment.

the teacher said...

The US housing market could drop for the rest of our lifetime. I see two things that could raise housing prices in America.

1. A foreign retiree (or investor or tourist with rights to reside)visa or some method to attract the wealthy toward the US crippled housing market.

2. Inflating the dollar which doesn't help the real value but does drive the price up.

Europe is going under which will drag the US behind them six months or a year later. Germany prefers to seperate rather than bail out and the Scandanavian countries will agree. The G-8 minus the US and Japan will try to select a new currency for stability, the RMB, which Russia prefers due to their exports to industrial China. The US won't roll over that quick and will adopt a 2nd currency, the "gold dollar" backed by the US reserve, which dwarfs the world, and will keep the inflated dollar as a active currency and for debt repayment because the US can defend that policy. The banks in England, Russia, China, and the Swiss are buying gold as fast as they can now...and this is no secret to the heavy players now.

And Europe is closer to war than most imagine, only this time the sides may be very different than the last.

Wendy Doromal said...

Ron: It doesn't matter what I post you are like Debby Downer from Saturday Night Live and will find something incredibly depressing or negative to counter with.

Anonymous said...

Teacher: Europe is going to war? Where do you grab these facts from?

the teacher said...

Noni above, I was just curious if anyone was actually reading this!

And I didn’t mean to offend anyone, only discuss the housing market and economy. I just talked to a Florida broker and his opinions made mine look optimistic. He said the market is falling 1.5 % per month there and selling above today’s value will be unlikely in the next five years.

And when anyone disagrees on this site they are chastised or ridiculed, and some of the commentary is grossly inaccurate to the point of ridicules.

Green Cards for All! said...

Ridiculous!

Ho, ho, Ho Chi Minh!