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 Agriculture
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.
Of 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.

I would suggest that any foreign worker requiring additional help or immediate intervention contact the DOI Federal Ombudsman Office for assistance:


Anonymous said...

U.S. Children should get their Food Stamps, I agree with this. Their Legal Parents/Guardians must produce evidence that they are in legal status CW etc. in order to be given the food stamps on behalf of the child. Or do you purpose the stamps be given directly to the child, regardless of age? How can an illegal alien use food stamps? Illegal aliens attempting to get food stamps for their U.S. children should be investigated for status and if illegal, be deported. This is the law. If you want to use laws to justify why U.S. children can get food stamps, use the law to deport their illegal parents. Or do you have selective law compliance issues?

Wendy Doromal said...

7:27 This is not about status. NAP is not an immigration office.

This is about innocent US citizen children being fed and being given the same benefits that any US citizen child is entitled to. The governor and NAP imposed a policy that foreign workers must produce a CW permit to collect their U.S. citizen children's food stamps. There are numerous other documents that could be produced including passports and the child's birth certificates. Most foreign workers do not even have CW permits issued to them yet. Additionally, there are many other categories of legal visas. This was just an attempt by the Fitial Administration to starve innocent children based on the race of their parents. Disgusting. They better stop.

Anonymous said...

7:27, What are you talking about to check parents for status.?
Parents status have nothing to do concerning a US Cit.
The only thing a parent has to prove is that they are indeed the parent (legal Guardian) of the child and a US Passport for the child.
In the case of a child left with another, that person has to show that they are indeed the authorized caretaker, legal guardian of said child.
The only reason either a parent or guardian has to show legal capacity regarding the child is that the child is under legal age,
this is for children under 18yrs.
In the case of a US Cit. that is over 18, all they have to show is that they are a US Cit.
This whole controversy and racial prejudice is all Fitialization instructed by the so called self proclaimed "father" of the CNMI.
This idiot and his followers should be prosecuted.

Anonymous said...

7:27, NAP can not determine if one is legal or illegal, there is an agency and a court that could say that not NAP. You're one of Fitial's stupid voters.

Anonymous said...

Good job in bringing this to the attention of the feds. Now we need to monitor this and make sure no child is turned away.

Anonymous said...

the only ones who can determine if someone has a legal status is immigration you said. that is true anyone or local,federal agency (re: DOI-ombudsman) cannot tell you your immigration status. If anyone has a question regarding their status they can only get an official determination via USCIS and ICE. Remember those agencies are both a part of DHS and work together so either one can provide status info. If you rely on information from any other person or agency they will not know and cannot tell you your official status..

Anonymous said...

what the CNMI needs is the SNAP program which Kilili supports and originated the request, an that would more than double food aid to the CNMI but Governor Fitial opposes this because he would lose personal control of who gets the money.

Wendy Doromal said...

I was told that the SNAP Program cannot work in the CNMI because stores do not have the electronic scanning systems? Is that correct? At any rate, Fitial CANNOT dictate who gets food stamps. If he enforces discriminatory policies I will report it.

Anonymous said...

There is so much Fraud in the Food Stamp program by U.S. children's parents. How many U.S. children have left the CNMI with their parents and are still on food stamps and claimed on Income Tax forms. Oh, I am here to apply for food stamps for my U.S. CITIZENS (notice I did not say for MY children). These 3 children are mine, these 6 children are my dependents as indicated on my income tax forms.

Yes, you should have to show evidence of your legal status as well as evidence that everyone that you are claiming food stamps for is physically in the CNMI and are your legal dependents (your children, adopted, Guardianship documents, etc). There are laws in place and directives under these laws. If a person is caught committing fraud in order to illegally receive food stamps, what would happen???? Would the U.S. children eligible for food stamps be disqualified because of their parents fraudulent acts? Hummmm, parents of U.S. children are a integral part of the issuance of food stamps.

Anonymous said...

Nobody had those machines until this program was was introduced. Guam is a perfect example.
By these stores applying for those machines it may well cut down the number of "fly by night" operations that are presently doing the under the counter deals with the paper food stamp coupons.
Many of these same stores are "sponsored" by these elected and "connected" and don't pay the taxes.
I am assuming that to be able to get one of these machines (that are similar to the credit card and debit card machines, maybe the same ones)that the applicant has to go through about the same process to be approved.
If so, this would make the establishment more accountable and may actually expose many of these "illegal" business.
The Gov. does not want that.

Wendy, maybe on your daily venture to a market in your area you may be able to find out the process to be able to qualify for one of these machines and the cost to the vendor. (just a thought)As many might be curious.

Wendy Doromal said...


Good idea. I will find out tomorrow when I go to the store...

Anonymous said...

Hey Wendy, did you find out anything about the NAPP machines and procedures within these stores?
I am very curious if they are the same machines as the charge cards and debit cards use.

Wendy Doromal said...

Sorry -enjoying my spring break too much.

Yes, they are the same machines. The state puts the money into a person's food stamp account. They get a card just like a credit card and the machine scans it and deducts the purchases. It also tells the person the balance left on their card. It is very similar to a gift card from a major store.

The card still allow for fraud if a store owner is unscrupulous: Read here.

Am I correct in guessing many CNMI food stores do not have electronic scanning machines? Also, the whole system would have to be changed and would require an outside team to set it up and train the NAP people. I do not see why it would be so terribly difficult.

Anonymous said...

Wendy,on Tinian only a couple of stores had these machines.
Few people use credit cards and many just use debit cards.
On Saipan only the larger stores that take credit cards have them.
I do not know of any small "mom and pop store" that has them as you have to apply at your bank and there is a monthly charge for running credit cards through them also debit cards.It varies on how much you run through the machine but there used to be a minimum charge, plus there is a phone line charge.
To qualify you have to be good credit and legitimate with a bank.
I do not know exactly what the banks check now as it has been so many years since I dealt with these machines on my business which was not food.
I have a sneaking suspicion that is why Fitial and Associates do not want this NAPP system as most of these small stores are suspect at being illegal and do not pay real taxes as they do not report their true sales nor issue receipts. They usually have two sets of books.
Any Govt. persons that supposed to check ghe cash register receipts are usually bought off.

These small stores are foreign run and owned by many of the elected and politically aligned.
Most of the times they do not ring up on the register.
These machines would be easy to track sales of this type no matter what products are punched in.
In some news articles in the US mainland awhile back, the Feds had "busted" some business for fraud and this was due to these machines accountability.
Can you imagine what would happen in the NMI?
It would be curious to hear from some about the number of small stores that have these machines.
I know that many CW use their debit card in Tinian at the few that have these machines as most stores will not accept checks. Only cash.
Thanks for the info.