September 3, 2012
While the Administration supports relief for those undocumented (illegal) children of aliens brought to the U.S. illegally, the Administration shows absolutely no compassion, no justice, no fairness to the thousands of long-term foreign workers in the CNMI.
The vast majority of the CNMI's long-term foreign workers were legally recruited and lived and worked in the islands for years, even decades. After the economy crashed many lost their jobs, so they applied for parole from USCIS. Most of the displaced workers wanted to stay in the CNMI because:
1) Some have no home to return to, having lived in the CNMI longer than they lived in their lands of birth, 2) They were victims of wage theft and are owed large sums of money that they have been unable to collect over the years or 3) They are the parents of U.S. citizen children.
Many who have applied for parole many months ago are just now finding out their requests are being denied. The entire CNMI-Only Transitional Worker Program is a flawed mess. The process is confusing and slow. The haphazard implementation has caused suffering and uncertainty not just to the foreign workers, but to their employers.
President Obama must explain the flagrant inconsistency in this country's immigration policies. Does compassion and justice apply to some, but not all? Is granting a pathway to citizenship "the right thing to do" for the huge block of Hispanics (an estimated 11 million), but not for this smaller group of Asians (an estimated 13,000 - 16,000)? Is just policy only applied for those aliens on the U.S. mainland, but not for those in the CNMI?
We should have compassion for the young people brought into the U.S. by their parents when they were young. It is the "right thing to do" to allow deferred action for these young people. We must employ prosecutorial discretion in deportations to keep families together as written in the Morton Memo. However, our government must also have the same compassion for the long-term foreign workers of the CNMI who worked and lived on U.S. soil for years or decades. Our government must make whole the thousands of CNMI foreign workers who have been cheated of their wages.
If USCIS will not grant parole to these people who helped to build the CNMI, who labored there under adverse conditions, who sacrificed so much, then isn't it time that a member of the U.S. Congress step up on their behalf to demand a review of these inconsistent policies? Where are the former champions in the U.S. Congress? Isn't it time that pro-immigrant Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis take a stand?
Over the last three decades the U.S. Congress generally turned a blind eye to the ill-treatment of the foreign workers. The U.S. Congress has done absolutely nothing to help thousands of foreign workers collect the $6.1 million in documented claims that are owed to them. Likewise, the CNMI Government did nothing to ensure that the thief-employers pay the cheated workers what they were owned.
No more federal funds should be given to the CNMI until every penny that is owed to the cheated foreign workers is repaid or until they are granted permanent residency status so they are able to recover their losses. The foreign workers of the CNMI must be made whole.
You can read some of the stories of cheated workers who have been denied parole by USCIS in the Saipan Tribune article: here. If you are moved, please write and request equal treatment of all aliens on U.S. soil. Please stand up for the aliens in the CNMI.