June 4, 2016
- John Lewis, Freedom Rider and U.S. Congressman
A recent Saipan Tribune article states that Delegate Kilili Sablan will introduce legislation to enact a ten year extension to the severely flawed CW program. The bill will call for a increase in the cap of CW to 18,000. Perpetuating a broken system will not solve the immigration problems. However, granting the legal, long-term nonresidents a pathway to U.S. citizenship would help to ensure a skilled and stable workforce.
Each time the U.S. extends this program it becomes more like the old CNMI immigration system, which regarded nonresident workers as disposable, replaceable labor units and allowed for abuses to flourish.
The only reasons advocates backed the federal takeover were to:
- End abuses - Not accomplished. In fact, employers still maintain power over the foreign workers by threatening them with non-renewal if they complain of late wages, unpaid overtime or other abuses. Amazingly, the Federal Government made things worse by closing the Ombudsman Office, which served as the sole place where nonresident workers could seek assistance.
- Phase in the U.S. immigration system - Not accomplished. We already saw one extension and another looms as Delegate Sablan and other 'leaders' are calling for a ten year extension.
- Provide status for legal, longterm nonresidents - Not accomplished. Xenophobic politicians in Guam and the CNMI ensured that the status provision was removed from the CNRA and replaced with a provision calling for the DOI to make recommendations to Congress within 3 years of passage of the law. That 2010 DOI report recommending a pathway to citizenship was ignored.
“Why don’t I just go ahead and push for status like I did before? I want to but the composition of Congress has changed,” Sablan said, noting Republican ranks that have ousted its own Republicans like former Rep. Eric Cantor in primary election, and how they “kicked out” former House speaker John Boehner. “…That’s power,” Sablan said.It is always the right time to do the right thing. We cannot wait for the composition of Congress to be aligned with our views. In fact, when there was a Democratic House and Senate early in Obama's first term no corrective action was taken. Was that not the 'right' time?
Did Susan B. Anthony wait for the 'right time' to demand women's right to vote? Did the Vietnam War protestors wait for the 'right President' to be in the White House to demand an end to the war? Did the civil rights leaders wait for the 'right composition' of Congress to favor them before they demanded equal rights?
No, because NOW is always the right time for justice to be served.