CNMI-only Guest Worker Program Final Rule Dismissed: Complaint to be amended

May 30, 2012

Not being an attorney, I am unsure of the legal standing of the foreign workers and businessmen who filed a case for declaratory and injunctive relief against the CNMI Guest Worker Program's Final Rule, but the statements and arguments that they raise concerning the problems with and failures of the CNMI-only Guest Worker Program certainly ring true.

I not only supported, but I advocated for the federal takeover of the CNMI's failed immigration system believing that it would provide long overdue justice and status for the legal, long-term foreign workers. After the CNRA was signed, I was certain that a fair and democratic guest worker program that reflected the values of our country would be implemented, thus putting an end to decades of abuses and unimaginable suffering. I imagined a stronger federal presence in the CNMI with adequately funded and fully staffed federal offices that would ensure that decades of federal neglect would be history.  I envisioned the replacement of the CNMI's corrupt and unjust guest worker program with an effective federal program that would guarantee justice for thousands of cheated and abused foreign workers.

I feel duped. Years after the CNRA was signed into law, neither justice nor status has been realized for the long suffering foreign workers of the CNMI. I stand in disgust and disbelief at the manipulation of the intent of the CNRA, the haphazard and irresponsible way that the CNMI-only Guest Worker Program was implemented and is being run, and the many serious and persistent problems that will only continue to multiply until basic steps are taken to correct them.

The USCIS CNMI Office is understaffed. CW permit applications are being processed in the mainland at turtle pace. Biometric processing is slow due to lack of manpower.  Nearly eight months after the final rule went into effect, a meager percentage of the total foreign worker applications has been processed creating uncertainty and hardship for guest workers and their employers.

The U.S. Congress has failed to hold regular oversight hearings to monitor the progress of the implementation of the law or to even introduce a bill that would provide well-deserved U.S. status (permanent residency) for all of the legal, long-term foreign workers of the CNMI. Instead a discriminatory bill that proposes a second-class citizen status that includes disenfranchisement and restricted travel for only 1/4 of the total legal, long-term foreign workers was introduced in the U.S. House.  It has not been heard and would face hearings in the Senate if it is ever acted upon.

The U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Insular Affairs Office circumvented the intent of the CNRA by issuing a wishy-washy recommendation for status and failing to follow up to ensure that the legal, long-term foreign workers had their status upgraded.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security instituted a Final Rule that failed to adequately serve the needs of the foreign workers, the businesses or the community at large.

I am overwhelmed by the sheer lack of coordination and the minimal amount of effort that has been exerted by the federal agencies who were mandated to establish a workable, just and democratic guest worker program. Some have said that the CNMI-only Guest Worker Program could serve as a model for a reformed U.S. guest worker program. It can serve only as a model of what not to do and how not to do it.

Responses to letters that I have written to federal officials and departments concerning the CNMI-only Guest Worker Program indicate ignorance on the part of the respondents (as in they do not even understand their role in the transition or that they even had a role!) pathetic excuses, or absolute misinformation. If people's well being and very lives were not at stake, the absurdity of many of the responses could even be considered humorous.

Yesterday Judge Ramona Manglona of the U.S. District Court of the NMI ruled on the case of the foreign workers and business owners (Geraldo DeGuzman et al) who are suing Janet Napolitano and other U.S. officials for the failed CNMI-only Guest Worker Program. The judge ruled exactly as the plaintiffs requested –– that the complaint be dismissed without prejudice and the  plaintiffs be granted leave to amend their complaint within 120 days.

I wholeheartedly agree with the statements in the Plaintiff's Response to the Motion to Dismiss:
Far from establishing a smooth, orderly, efficient, effective, coherent, rational and predictable set of polices, procedures, and practices to integrate the CNMI into the U.S.
immigration system with a minimum of disruption to the lives of persons residing in the
Commonwealth, protective and solicitous of the economic welfare of the community, as Congress intended, the acts and omissions of Defendants and others within the United States Government have created virtual chaos – confusion, fear, uncertainty, doubt, delay, injustice, unpredictability, irrationality, and a steadily eroding economic situation in the CNMI with a growing exodus of both citizens and aliens who have given up on the future of the islands. 
Six months after expiration of the initial two-year transition period conferring lawful status on aliens present in the CNMI based on prior lawful status pursuant to CNMI immigration law, many aliens’ lawful status during that period remains unsettled. Aliens denied the benefits of that transition period have been provided no remedy for loss of the opportunity Congress intended that they have. Countless aliens have been inappropriately placed in removal proceedings and some of them wrongfully removed. 
The new parole-in-place policies announced by USCIS on the eve of hearing of Plaintiffs motion for preliminary injunction, cited favorably by the Court in its Opinion and Order Denying Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction,1 Order at 14 n.4, and earlier announced parole-in-place policies as well, have fallen far short of their apparent promise. 
Plaintiffs and counsel have witnessed and heard of numerous denials that appear arbitrary, capricious, and irrational, and at times to interfere with the fundamental right of marriage and invade the constitutionally protected right to privacy. To an unsettling degree, applications for parole-in-place appear to be being used to form the basis for ICE enforcement actions and triggering removal proceedings.Policies set in the nation’s capitol regarding enforcement priorities and proper treatment of non-priority aliens are disregarded with virtual insubordination by Department of Homeland Security operatives in or for the CNMI in favor of exclusion and removal rather than the inclusion Congress intended in the CNRA.
Regardless of the final outcome of this case, I hope that it grabs the attention of federal officials, the national media and mainland advocates. An effective guest worker program has to be properly coordinated, funded and designed to benefit all concerned parties. The Federal Government should be working to correct the missteps that they made in implementing the CNRA instead of defending it. The U.S Congress needs to introduce and pass legislation that would grant permanent residency to the legal, long-term foreign workers (those who have legally lived and worked in the CNMI 5 or more years).

Read the Plaintiffs' Response to the Motion to Dismiss:

The U.S.A's Motion to Dismiss:


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, just looking at this, most likely nothing will be done by the Feds or any lawmakers in the US until after the elections.
I also doubt if anything, that for at least a whole year after the next President takes office, whom ever it may be, and things in the US legislature settle down,(if that is possible) will anything possibly be done to address any of these issues.
Also it is going to take a few dedicated elected in the US to bring this to a head.

I don't know if it is by plan from a few, or just great incompetence by many in the Fed. Govt, that this whole things has been drawn out.
On the surface it would look like that this is being dragged along until 2014 so that many CW will leave and there won't be so many to contend with at that time.

This is only from my personal view watching this unfold from the very beginning.
I have been getting away from anything to do with anything that is connected to my homeland and am only waiting to see the outcome in certain areas before I leave to get away from the disaster that has been building all of these years and this current Administration and the rest involved is finally bringing to a close on our land and it's people.

Anonymous said...

The Federal takeover of the CNMI immigration was not about protecting human rights, past abuses, financial abuse. None of that. The takeover was revenge by Stayman, Miller and Pelosi for the Abramoff days and the paranoid culture of the Department of Homeland Security. These people HATE the CNMI and hated the garment industry even more all the while there are thousands of illegal sweatshops in Pelosi's own district. You weren't duped Wendy just used.

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 9:58

You are wrong on many levels. There was never "revenge" by any of the parties you have mentioned in their fight to end human rights abuses on U.S. soil and to institute reform. The problem is that the CNRA was gutted by U.S. Congress members who bought into the idea that indigenous rights (The "we don't want any workers to have status and someday have a right to vote" folks) trumps basic civil and human rights and the status clause was removed. Any guest worker program that has no path to citizenship is faulty and guest workers will be seen as labor units rather than humans.

I think it is amusing that so many people attack Mr. Stayman when he would be (and often is) the first one to find money for the CNMI and to investigate what would benefit all. Do you even know him, have you spoken to him? Please!

As for the garment industry in the CNMI -it was built on quicksand and fueled by greed on the backs of underpaid and ill-treated workers. It is probably more karma that it fell rather than revenge. Such companies do not belong on U.S. soil, whether in Pelosi's district or in the CNMI and I am sure she would agree.

Duped because I trusted people I should not have and believed people who lied to me about removing the grandfathering clause. Used -no. My only loyalty is to justice and truth. I listen to all and sift the truth out. No one ever "used" me. I was and still am very happy to advocate for the foreign workers. There are few people in the U.S. Congress that even possess a heart, never mind a sense of humanity or justice. Most are also self-serving opportunists who care more about their own re-elections than issues and what is best for the people or honoring the principles of our country. Such sad times and such a sorry state our country is in...

Anonymous said...

Wendy, 6:02 Regards to the last half of your last paragraph,
What you say is not much unlike what the NMI has in way of it's elected.

Anonymous said...

One key point that the far left wing liberal Democrats always ignore and apologize for can be summed up in this:

"SUMMER 1999: The House Resources Committee begins an investigation into illegal activity at the OIA. The committee is chaired by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska). The investigation looks into whether North and others at the OIA violated the Hatch Act, which forbids on-the-job campaign and lobbying activity at government offices. Stayman becomes the subject of a separate investigation by the Office of Special Counsel (OSG). (Stayman retains Washington lawyer Plato Cacheris, whose clients reportedly have included Monica Lewinsky and CIA spy Aldrich Ames. ("Congress to examine politics in the Pacific," Washington Times, September 14, 1999)) North and Stayman resign from their positions."

Now when I've asked liberals about this they tend to say "that was a long long time ago." etc. etc. Why was there no Federal indictment? Since there is no statue of limitations of felonies let's hope that with the next Administration this case can be looked at again.

Wendy Doromal said...

11:53 Oops - not the facts. The fact is that the lobbyists hired by the CNMI went after the DOI because they were supporting federalization. The pursuit to discredit and remove pro-federalization DOI OIA personnel was documented in the CNMI-Abramoff billing records, in the Abramoff-Tan-Fitial secret memo and in White House emails exposed in the Waxman report. See here and Mother Jones articles, and TPM to name just a few.
The CNMI and lobbyists worked to eliminate pro-federalization DOI personnel and replace them with people like convicted felon Mark Zachares who was the former CNMI DOLI Secretary. All documented facts.
Allen Stayman did nothing wrong. David North was found guilty of violating the Hatch Act (Just like the Attorney General Edward Buckingham was).

Bryan said...

I agree with your sentiment, I also hope that this post of yours will get the attention of people concerned so they would know what's wrong or what's really happening and most importantly, take action. Thanks for your post.