March 23, 2012
For years the foreign workers have been victims of discrimination at federal offices in the CNMI, including at the CNMI NAP Office. The latest incidents were the result of Governor Fitial's racist view that only United States citizen children of United States citizens should receive benefits. He attempted to deny food stamps to U.S. citizen children with foreign parents by imposing a regulations that NAP officials can require a CW permit or copy of an application in order for them to collect food stamps for their children.
The governor's Attorney General underscored that the policy at NAP was intended to be discriminatory by indicating that he wanted "local" people to be first in line for social service programs:
"Unemployed aliens crowd the food stamp rolls and when ceilings are reached, local U.S. citizens cannot receive aid as no new recipients can be added to the rolls. Distressed aliens who have been abused in illegal work situations, often by foreign employers, seek help. Private social service organizations run out of resources and are not available to assist local U.S. citizens."Unemployed aliens may have been granted humanitarian or other parole and have a legal presence in the CNMI. U.S. citizen children who are eligible for food stamps should receive them regardless of the race, nationality or status of the parents. No U.S. citizen children should be starved because of the status of their parents. All children are our country's children and all must be treated equally.
As I pointed out the practices at the NAP office have been discriminatory and illegal. (See reports submitted as written testimony here and here and posts here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.)
Mr. Joe Torres, the Civil Rights Director of the Office of Civil Rights for the Western Region of the USDA agrees with me. In fact, he replied to my complaint in a letter stating in part:
The USDA, Food and Nutrition Service, Office of Civil Rights, Western Region, received your complaint against he policy of the NAP Office in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI).
Our jurisdiction over complaints is derived from Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and USDA Departmental regulations which prohibit discrimination on the basis of race and national origin in programs and activities receiving Federal financial assistance. We are responsible for investigating civil rights complaints and determining if there is evidence to support a finding of discrimination.
In your written communications with my agency, you have a concern regarding NAP's new requirement for foreign workers to produce a CW permit or application in order to receive their U.S. citizen children's food stamps. We are concerned too and have asked CNMI to stop the practice. We are in the process of working with CNMI to accomplish that objective and want to thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.The letter also stated that the office was required to close my complaint because I am not an applicant or beneficiary of the program, but "your concerns have been addressed."
I am extremely pleased that the USDA is working to ensure justice for all food stamp recipients.
That said, I believe that the NAP Office should be routinely monitored. All foreign workers who are denied food stamps for their eligible U.S. citizen children must report the denials to off-island officials or the federal ombudsman. I also believe that the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Division should be monitoring all discriminatory acts against foreign workers, threats of harm or violence and other denials of basic civil and human rights and the department should start prosecuting violators.
If any foreign worker is denied food stamps for their U.S. citizen children they may file a complaint with the USDA. To file a program discrimination complaint write a letter to:
U.S. Department of AgricultureOf course, as always, any foreign worker who is a victim off abuse, wage theft or discrimination can also contact me with complete details and I will refer the complaint to appropriate congressional staff and members, and federal officials.
Director, Office of Adjudication
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-9410
Include the following in your complaint letter:
Your name, address and telephone number.
The name, address, and telephone number of your attorney or authorized representative, if you are represented.
The basis of your complaint. The basis is what you believe was the motivating factor for the discrimination. For example, you may believe you were treated differently because of your race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, familial/parental status, disability, or because all or a part of an individual's income is derived from a public assistance program. (Not all bases apply to all programs).
The date(s) that the incident(s) you are reporting as discrimination occurred. Please note that we cannot accept a complaint about an incident that took place more than 180 days prior to the filing of the complaint. If the discrimination occurred more than 180 days prior to filing your complaint, you may request a waiver of the filing requirement. (See waiver information below.)
The name of the individual(s) or entity you believe discriminated against you and the agency or recipient that employs that/those individual(s).
The issue(s) of your complaint. The issue is a description of what happened, or the action that was taken by the individual(s) or agency that discriminated against you, resulting in some harm. Explain as clearly as possible what happened, why you believe it happened, and how you were discriminated against. Please include how other persons were treated differently from you, if applicable. If you were denied a benefit or service, please provide a copy of the denial letter. If you have documents to support the events you are reporting, provide a copy of the supporting documents.
I would suggest that any foreign worker requiring additional help or immediate intervention contact the DOI Federal Ombudsman Office for assistance: