September 29, 2012
“To cheapen the lives of any group of men, cheapens the lives of all men, even our own. This is a law of human psychology, or human nature. And it will not be repealed by our wishes, nor will it be merciful to our blindness.” ― William Pickens
GAO issued a report, "Additional DHS Actions Needed on Foreign Worker Permit Program", which focuses on the CNMI economy and needs of business owners.
Lacking in the report is a look or even mention on how the CNMI-Only Guest Worker Program has had extremely adverse effects on the legal, long-term foreign workers of the CNMI. Then again, the federal government de-humanizes the CNMI foreign contract workers, even as it promotes compassion and leniency in regard to undocumented aliens in the U.S. mainland. In that regard, this report is quite in step with the inconsistent message coming from the Obama Administration, federal departments, federal agencies and some hypocritical members of the U.S. Congress.
The foreign workers are regarded merely as tools of labor or essential commodities, but never as human beings. The appendix lists statements by federal and CNMI agencies and officials, but contains no statement or reference to the workers' opinions of the program, the proposal for extension, their requests for permanent residency status, The voice of the workers and advocates is absent.
The report states under Objectives, Scope and Methology:
The objectives of this review were to (1) assess the status of federal implementation of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) transitional work permit program for foreign workers, (2) examine the economic implications for the CNMI of pending federal actions related to this permit program, and (3) provide the status of federal efforts to support worker training in the CNMI.It further states:
In preparing this report, we reviewed CNRA; the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) interim and final rules containing regulations for a transitional worker classification program in the CNMI; documents from DHS and the Departments of Labor (DOL), State (State), and the Interior (DOI); and economic literature on the effects of uncertainty about future economic conditions on business owners’ investment decisions. We obtained and analyzed data from DHS, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the CNMI Department of Finance and found all data to be sufficiently reliable for the purposes of this report. In addition, we interviewed officials from DHS, State, DOL, DOI, and the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and obtained information from the CNMI government and members of the Saipan Chamber of Commerce. See appendix I for more details about our scope and methodology.How can there be a true evaluation of the program if the views and concerns of the foreign workers and their advocates are not even in the equation!?
The reports considers the impacts and affects that the transitional guest worker program has on the economy, the business community and the U.S. citizens in determining whether or not to extend this transitional program or what changes should be made with it. However, because the foreign worker (people who have lived and worked in the CNMI for years and decades) are seen as labor units rather than human beings, their needs are not considered or even mentioned. They are mentioned only as statistics, data or labor units.
The report states:
Uncertainty about the impact of the pending DHS and DOL decisions on access to foreign workers may be limiting business investment in the CNMI. Foreign workers made up more than half of the CNMI workforce in 2012, and CNMI businesses reported challenges in finding replacements for foreign workers. Some CNMI businesses indicated that uncertainty over pending federal actions has caused them to limit their plans for future investments in the CNMI.What about the ongoing uncertainty of the foreign workers and their families? Should that be considered when making decisions? How about looking at the program to determine if it is humane; if it is in violation with any articles of the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights?
Chamber officials also cited limited access to adequate health care in the CNMI, the high cost of living, and the high cost of shipping goods to and from the CNMI as factors that may have affected businesses’ investment decisions in the CNMI.
I would like to see a GAO investigation and report on how the CNMI and U.S. Governments have for decades and continue to allow the CNMI foreign workers to live in substandard conditions; be denied adequate health care; experience racism and discrimination, even at federal offices; have assaults and attacks by CNMI officials ignored or excused; have crimes against them, even murders go unsolved; and suffer from routine theft of wages and other labor violations to fulfill the needs of the Chamber's members, business owners and contribute to the CNMI economy. Let the Congress order GAO to do a report on how the guest worker program acts as a dementor to suck human dignity, self-respect and freedom from the foreign workers.
Perhaps the U.S. Department of State should focus on the human rights abuses in the CNMI as much as it focuses on those in other parts of the world.
“The humanity of all Americans is diminished when any group is denied rights granted to others.” ― Julian Bond
The GAO Report: Position Paper July 2012: