February 1, 2013
“I always maintain my position on illegals. They are not contributing to the welfare of the people of the commonwealth,” he said.It is unlikely that there are even a thousand unauthorized immigrants in the CNMI. The governor's numbers seem extremely exaggerated.
As for the governor having any say in the matter, we should consider that there are few, if any, policy makers in Washington, DC who would take seriously the words of a corrupt governor who is in the subject of an ongoing impeachment process.
Furthermore, contrary to what the governor has stated, these people do contribute to the CNMI. They perform odd jobs from caring to the elderly to landscaping. They serve as volunteers in their children's schools and in the community. As customers who frequent local businesses, they contribute to the economy.
Does the governor envision a comprehensive immigration bill that would separate the CNMI from the U.S.? That would give a pathway to citizenship to undocumented aliens in the U.S., but deport the undocumented aliens in the CNMI? Not likely to happen, especially with Congressman Sablan acknowledging the moral side of the equation.
The vast majority of the CNMI's undocumented workers entered and worked in the CNMI legally, most for many years. Some stayed after they were terminated, hoping to collect the thousands of dollars in unpaid wages that their criminal employers stole from them. Most of these workers are still waiting for justice Many others stuck around because they have U.S. citizen children and no "home" to return to after working and living in the CNMI for so many years. Some are out of status because of problems with the CW Program. For whatever reason, these de facto CNMI citizens need their status corrected so that they can stay and be re-labled as legal immigrants.
Someone may want to tell the governor that the politically correct term for people who live in the country without papers is "undocumented" or "unauthorized", not "illegal" as he so often calls them. Immigration reform advocates who have long opposed the i-word as dehumanizing, are becoming more outspoken.
Filipino Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and immigration activist, Antonio Vargas called on the American media to drop the i-word. Vargas was born in the Philippines and came to the U.S. as a child to be raised by his grandparents. He is an undocumented immigrant who uses the term "American without papers" to describe his status. In a September 2012 interview Vargas explained:
"My beef, such as it is, with the term “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien” is the fact that they’re inaccurate and imprecise. To be in this country without papers is actually a civil offense, not a criminal one. A Republican strategist named Frank Luntz, back in 2005, actually wrote a memo specifically saying that people like me should be called illegal aliens and illegal immigrants to further criminalize people like me. So how can journalists, who are supposed to be neutral, take something off the pages of somebody like Frank Luntz? The other question here is that about 50% of the people who are in America, quote, unquote, “illegally” came to America legally; they overstayed their visa. And so, saying that everybody’s, quote, unquote, “illegal” actually doesn’t acknowledge the complexity of the immigration system."Colorlines, a news for action website, launched a campaign called "Drop the I-word" From the site:
Drop the I-Word is a public education campaign powered by immigrants and diverse communities across the country that value human dignity and are working to eradicate the dehumanizing slur "illegals" from everyday use and public discourse. The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is "illegal.Colorlines states:
The i-word is used to unfairly label and scapegoat people who are out of status due to a variety of systemic circumstances. For example, many people:
- Are brought to the country against their will or by employers who often exploit them for cheap labor.
- Fall out of status and overstay their VISAS because of school or employment.
- Risk being killed in their country of origin due to political or religious beliefs or sexual orientation.
- Are affected by natural disasters and/or other reasons beyond their control.
- Are forced by economics and harmful policies like NAFTA to leave their country to simply provide for their families.
Join the campaign to drop the i-word by pledging at Drop the I-Word or text "IWORD" to 69866.
- Are on a backlog waiting years to get processed, even when they are eligible to get papers through a relative. Reason.org illustrates this well with a chart of "Our Nation's Broken Immigration and Naturalization System."