Drop the I-Word, Governor

February 1, 2013

CNMI Governor Fitial has stated once again that he doesn't support "illegals" staying in the CNMI. He claims that there are a "few thousand of them" and they do not contribute to the CNMI.  From the Marianas Variety:
“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. 
  • 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."
Join the campaign to drop the i-word by pledging at Drop the I-Word or text "IWORD" to 69866.


Anonymous said...

You have a huge heart. Unfortunately, ICE will process and deport illegals Wendy. Obama has deported and separated more undocumented immigrants than any other President in history and the CNMI is NOT a special case. Those who supported Federalization tend to make up US immigration laws with wishful thinking and some kind of delusional fantasy of Obama coming to the rescue of cheated workers. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even Cong Sablan isn't for some blanket Green Card program or a fast track pathway to US Citizenship.

Anonymous said...

I agree, there has been a trend to try and re-brand the names and definitions of things people don't like to try and minimize the impact of the word or definition. Most people see it for what it is. The above poster is correct, in the CNMI there are many people who have overstayed their visas, been denied by USCIS for applications for a status, they are in fact here in the CNMI in violation of federal law. Attempting to minimize their subsequent illegal status serves no one and in fact contributes to the fact that to many people are being excused their responsibility and to many enablers are teaching people that personal responsibility can be avoided.... the end result is a society that is what we have today, for shame....

Anonymous said...

Gotta love it......lack of responsibility listen to how they put it.

•Fall out of status and overstay their VISAS because of school or employment.

•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."

•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.

See it is always someone elses fault I am in the U.S. illegally,

My visa expired, NOT MY FAULT
I couldn't find a job in my home country NOT MY FAULT

I have to wait many years for a visa to go to America I DON'T WANT TO WAIT LIKE OTHERS DO.

As to the natural disasters OR OTHER REASONS BEYOND THEIR CONTROL, gotta love that line. The U.S. Government goes out of its way to provide for those effected by natrual disasters, that is a very minisule number of people in the U.S.

Of course won't stop those who refuse to take personal responsibility from using it as a reason to excure their behavior......

Anonymous said...

Sure they have overstayed. If I was owed thousands of dollars and had no other home, I'd probably stay too. Grow a heart. Unless you are a native American you are an immigrant. If you are a Chamorro or Carolinian from the CNMI you got citizenship handed to you, and you don't even pay federal taxes!

Anonymous said...

7:36 Yeah personal responsibility can be avoided, especially in the CNMI which is short for Can Not Master Integrity.

Anonymous said...

Isn't personal responsibility paying your employees what they are owed? Now THAT is criminal!

Anonymous said...

Think about documented and undocumented alien workers in CNMI. Documented alien workers are kept under a corrupt CW-1 program that offer no basic rights as humans. This is an inhuman CW-1 program where humans are used by CNMI employers and government for personnal gain. Let united States to decide what they can do or offer to improve the long-term documented alien workers situation here in CNMI when USA is considering to provide a pathway to US citizenship to 11M undocumented alien workers. Do you want to see the changes, then let alien workers have an improved immigration status by US immigration reform bill to invest their time and money to train and take local workers to be a part of the business or a strong CNMI workforce? United CNMI or USA stands to improve. OR CNMI will keep begging for federal handouts.

Anonymous said...

have a heart is a whole lot different than accepting that some people dont want to follow the law with regard to their own personal situation. You are right I am the grandson of immigrants, immigrants who waited 15 yrs to get the permission to immigrate to the United States, who spent their time learning English and improving their skills, returning to school so they could educate themselves so they had something to offer the new country IF they were fortunate enough to get here. My grandfather was forunate enough to get here on vistors visas but when it expired he didn't say ' oh let me stay it is too hard to get an immigrant visa, he returned to the country he was a citizen off as required by law and waited.......He and my grandmother sacraficed once they got here 15 yrs after starting the process and never once took food stamps, finacial aid, support or any assistance. they did not turn their new neighborhood into little Cario, unlike the little manila/beijng CWs seem to be intent on turning the CNMI into. Why should we bring the CNMI down to a third world instead of getting people here who want to improve their station in life. For so many people who have nowhere to return to they seem to send their money back home to somebody and need to go there on vacation to visit somebody, All those things are their right to do but don't turn around and say they ain't got no home to return to...

Wendy Doromal said...

2:48 and the rest of the negative commenters: Every American has a story and family history. Some of us are descended from Pilgrims or other early arrivers who took the country from the American Indians; some of us had parents, grandparents or great grandparents who immigrated through difficult circumstances; some came during their own lifetime; some of us were born in the USA. Where you are born is an accident of birth -no one gets to pick their homeland; no one selects their family history.

It is important that we remember the difficulties of the past and the mistakes made throughout our country's history so that we can avoid repeating them. It is important that we work to erase the difficulties and remove the obstacles from the path ahead for others. What kind of person remembers that their own family struggled to become a US citizen and rationalizes that others must take that hard road too?

Yes, most Americans have a heart. In fact, recent polls showed that over 60% of ALL Americans polled said that undocumented immigrants should be given a pathway to citizenship. In that poll 53% of Republicans agreed.

You think some Saipan neighborhoods look like "little Cairo"? Then work for stricter zoning laws. Lobby for a higher minimum wage. People who have the finances and resources to build and maintain decent housing do not live in slums. Pay the workers living wages.

Wendy Doromal said...

5:59 (first comment)

ICE should NOT deport the out of status foreign workers unless they have committed a crime, according to the Obama Administration policies made in 2011 and 2012. Certainly ICE should not deport any out of status foreign worker who has stayed to collect thousands or tens of thousands of dollars that cheating employers stole while the CNMI and US governments acted as bystanders and enablers.

In July 2012 President Obama took executive action to stay Dreamers. In June 2011 the Morton Memo called for discretion in deportation of foreigners who have no criminal offenses. ICE should back off and focus on criminals.

Anonymous said...

US ICE will continue to enforece the laws, discretion is just that discreet. Most of the folks the immigration agents will be deporting are those who didn't get CWs so they aren't needed in the CNMI and those who thought bogus marraiges would get them a status but found out the Feds aint fooled like the old local CNMI immigration. Plus all those chinese who came here as 'visitors' but convienetly overstayed their time here, whether to give birth to their anchor baby or hide in the shadows hoping they could stick around to 2015 to claim asylum.... i say go get these folks US ICE and then maybe there will be more resources to go around for lawfull immigrants and US citizens.....