November 16, 2013
There is always a small, but vocal group of indigenous CNMI residents who oppose U.S. immigration reform legislation that would include a provision to grant an eventual pathway to citizenship to the CNMI's legal, long term foreign workers. This year it is Ana Teregeyo and the Northern Marianas Descent Corp. and 13 members of the CNMI House who oppose any upgraded status for these nonresident workers, who have lived and the CNMI for many years, most of them for decades.
The Saipan Tribune reported:
Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro’s (R-Saipan) HR 18-34 does not allow any provision in any pending U.S. Congress bill that would allow persons “of other ethnic origin or race who are in the [CNMI] to become U.S. permanent residents and subsequently become U.S. citizens."Resolutions are merely official statements, but they are also historical records. Any person who would sign such a statement is declaring that he/she is a racist. Ultimately that will be their legacy.
The 13 House members who supported racist Resolution HR 18-34 that was introduced by Fitialite Felicidad Ogumoro are:
Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan), floor leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), Reps. Antonio Agulto (Ind-Saipan), Antonio Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan), John Paul Sablan (Cov-Saipan), Teresita Santos (R-Rota), Mario Taitano (Ind-Saipan), and Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan).The xenophobic legislators intend to send their resolution to the U.S. Congress. There it will likely have little substantial impact except to confuse and to reinforce the notion that in the CNMI there are still a number of Fitial-type racists who possess superior complexes and agendas that conflict with basic American principles.
Governor Inos supports Delegate Sablan's CNMI provision and expressed disappointment with the resolution.
The timing of the resolution supporters is interesting. The CNMI immigration provision that the legislators oppose was not a secret. It was widely publicized and in fact, the Senate immigration reform bill with the CNMI provisions already passed in July 2013.
The CNMI proposal in the immigration bills is not perfect, but it is far better than the first CNMI proposal, which was a stand-alone bill, H.R. 1466. H.R. 1466 would have given CNMI-only status to a mere 1/4 of all legal nonresidents and would have kept them permanently disenfranchised.
In April 2013 I wrote this about the CNMI provision that made it to the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill:
The CNMI provision is not perfect, but neither is the entire bill. Perfect would be a provision providing that all of the CNMI legal, longterm nonresident workers would be granted immediate permanent residency status. Perfect is not going to happen.
I share the exact sentiments expressed yesterday by President Obama: "This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me. But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. "Immigration reform has stalled in the U.S. House since Speaker Boehnner refused to let the Senate version be heard. The Huffington Post quoted Vice President Biden:
"He will not allow the House to play by fair play - the American way, to let the Congress actually vote their conscience to fix a broken system," the vice president said.
"This is a step backward in the history of the country." Biden urged the newly sworn-in Americans to push for immigration reform to help millions of undocumented residents living "in the shadows" of the United States.
"Don't pull up the ladder behind you," the vice president said. "There are millions of people who are already acting as decent Americans and deserve a chance, deserve a path. Reach back. Help as you move on. Don't be afraid. Lend your voice to those seeking the same rights you achieved today."The CNMI legislators may have forgotten that not long ago they were handed U.S. citizenship. They did not have to devote years or decades of their lives as overworked and under-appreciated labor units to 'earn' their U.S. citizenship. These resolution supporters may want to contemplate the words of Vice President Biden: "Lend your voice to those seeking the same rights you achieved. . ."