Partisan Politics or a Politically Motivated Excuse?

December 1, 2011

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. ~Buddha

One of the most Republican news sources in America, The Daily Caller, published an editorial, The Forgotten Workers of Abramoff’s Islands, by Republican David Cohen, the former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior's Office for Insular Affairs.

While I  disagree with a couple of the editorial's political or historical takes on why the mess in the islands is what it is, I absolutely agree on the main and most important point of the editorial – that the CNMI legal, long-term foreign workers should be granted green cards. He said:
“Some say that guest workers who have lost their jobs should just go home. But many of them have devoted their entire adult lives to supplying the skills needed to build the CNMI economy. As their contracts were renewed year after year, the CNMI became their de facto permanent homeland — but one in which they, as perpetually “temporary” workers, could never have political rights. Many of them have minor children — U.S. citizens by birth — who know no other home. It seems cruel to pack these American children off to alien third-world countries to live off of the third-world wages their parents would earn there. If there is no work for these families in the CNMI, why not grant them U.S. permanent residency so they can find opportunities elsewhere in America? As bad as our economy is, surely we can find room for a few thousand workers whose skills and work ethic have proven indispensable to building up a small corner of our country.

To say that the CNMI offers a “cautionary tale” doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like a cautionary library, well stocked with miscalculations, ironies, unintended consequences and reminders that we should be careful what we wish for. The local islanders originally fought to control their own immigration because they were afraid of being overrun by outsiders. They did end up getting overrun by outsiders — precisely because they were granted control of their own immigration. Most guest workers hailed the federalization of wages and immigration, but many have now lost their jobs — and may soon lose their legal status — as a result.

Some see parallels between the challenges faced by CNMI guest workers and those faced by illegal aliens in the mainland. Congressional staffers say that opposition to amnesty somehow makes it politically impossible to grant CNMI guest workers permanent residence in the U.S. But CNMI guest workers are legal aliens. They cannot afford to wait until Congress figures out how to deal with millions of illegal aliens — and they should not have to.
Thank you David Cohen!

I respect Mr. Cohen. I admire him for taking a moral stand and for assessing the issue based on justice and fairness. I am sure that he could influence members of Congress and explain the history of the CNMI's foreign worker program and urgent need for them to be granted permanent residency now.

Defenders of HR 1466 claim that the inferior bill is "the best that a partisan Congress can pass" because Republicans do not support immigration reform. They claim that we should all support it because "at least some" will benefit. We know that this is not true. We know that comparing the legal aliens and undocumented aliens is unfair, and that intelligent people of any political party understand the difference between an undocumented and a legal alien. The refusal to amend HR 1466 or to submit legislation is an excuse to back self-serving and politically motivated legislation. It is a political excuse that this advocate will never believe or accept.