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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Marianas Variety Editorial

A Brief History on the Federalization Threats

A DECADE ago during the Teno administration, the following disaster led to the current predicament we all face today. A true sign of failure, ignorance and self-interest hidden political agendas and was the sole basis and reason why the local control of immigration and labor was recently stripped by the U.S. Congress.

The elected leaders, lawmakers and business community who had been involved with today’s disaster are still sitting in office, some seeking re-election. We say STEP DOWN and retire immediately before you bring further destruction to our homeland.

Feb. 22, 1999: Senate President Paul Manglona and Speaker Diego Benavente flew to Washington D.C. to join Gov. Pedro P. Tenorio to thwart off fresh attempts by the Clinton administration, seeking a federal take-over of the CNMI immigration and labor local control.

According to Senate President Manglona back then, the meeting with key congressional members and staffers was an opportunity for island leaders to provide report on the tight financial situation of the government as well as various reforms implemented by the Teno administration in the past year. Our government came under fire anew two months prior over the alleged failure of our local government to curb number of Asian migrant workers on the island (non-resident guest workers); charges repeatedly refuted by CNMI officials with reports of accomplishments of labor and immigration reforms.

A quote to a reporter by Speaker Benavente: “We always felt that we do not have a serious situation here and it’s always easier, I feel, for anyone to understand that when they come here and see for themselves,” (meaning the U.S. Congress).

TAOTAO TANO states the following; does the current predicaments we face today a result of not having a serious problem? Our indigenous local U.S. citizens who were host to thousands of non-resident guest workers had remained unemployed and untrained to take on those positions that required special skills. Why? Our people had been disrespected and insulted by foreign non-resident guest workers demanding citizenship in our homeland, why? Mayhem and uncertainties now taking place. Did our leaders then do anything to prevent such predicaments? Keep reading and you shall find out.

May 3, 1999: After meeting with key members of U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. the CNMI Legislature hoped to continue reform measures to deal with concerns on local labor and immigration in an attempt to block a federal takeover proposal.

Sept. 15, 1999: Senate President Manglona, and Speaker of Benavente along with Governor Teno Testified on S. 1052 in Washington, opposition the application of federal immigration law to the Northern Marianas. Our leaders warned that such a legislation would have adverse impact on the CNMI economy, further stating that S. 1052 was not the vehicle that would further the interest of the commonwealth. Governor Teno led the CNMI delegation comprised of administration officials, members of the Legislature and representatives from the business sector — the Saipan Chamber of Commerce and HANMI.

TAOTAO TANO states that our leaders are still using the same excuse, the ECONOMY! The real question is did they do anything to correct the labor and immigration problems? Did any of our leaders do anything to better prepare the CNMI with alternate industries in case of a federal takeover?

Keep reading — the truth is getting closer and interesting.

Remember, today the same leaders who were opposed to such federal take-over of our immigration and labor are now in full support, to include the Speaker Benavente, now the chair of the House Foreign and Federal Relations Committee.

Full support, for they failed the CNMI tremendously.

Feb. 8, 2000: Our elected leaders stepped up campaigns opposing automatic federal takeover of our labor and immigration control. U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chaired by then Frank H. Murkowski, R-Alaska, and two other ranking Democrat members, a bipartisan bill that sought automatic implementation of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act in the commonwealth for serious concerns on the alleged failure of our government to curb the INFLUX of migrant workers from Asian countries as well as impact of such policy on employment opportunities for LOCAL U.S. residents. An opportunity which led to prioritizing foreign guest workers in our homeland instead of U.S local residents.

Lobbying then was Speaker Benigno Fitial and the Teno administration in opposition to federal takeover. Also in full support of opposing a takeover was then Senate Floor Leader Pete P. Reyes.

Feb. 9 2000: Passage of takeover bill in U.S. Senate “A Wake Up Call,” says Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Lynn Knight.

Feb. 15, 2000: TAOTAO TANO states, that while an impending federal takeover bill was headed to the U.S. House our elected leaders along with the business community came up with their version of how to fix our labor and immigration.

They repealed Public Law 11-69, the three-year stay limit for all nonresident workers in the CNMI — 30,000 nonresidents back then to be exact, holding more than 90 percent of the jobs in the private sector. Rep. Diego T. Benavente was confident then that the legislative branch would move swiftly to amend Public Law 11-69.

Feb. 2001-April 2001: A campaign both elected leaders and the business community ensued to repeal Public Law 11-69 the three-year stay limit for all guest workers.

Those heavily involved in such a disastrous move were Speaker Fitial, Sens. Pete Reyes, Paul Manglona, Ricardo Atalig, Edward Maratita, David Cing, Rep. Diego Benavente and then-Saipan Chamber of Commerce president Anthony Pellegrino, who now operates the TRADES School educating and training our local U.S. residents.

TAOTAO TANO states could it be that he felt GUILTY for leading our people to their own detriment by aggressively fully supporting repealing Public Law 11-69 to appease 30,000 nonresident workers?

Also supporting the repeal of the stay limit we’re Lynn Knight, Tan Holdings executive representing the CNMI in D.C. as authorized by Governor Fitial and not by the will of the people of the commonwealth, and then HANMI president Ronald Sablan, now in charge of medical referrals.


July 4, 2001: Governor Teno gave a significant pre-Liberation Day present to 30,000 non-resident guest workers plus continued recruitments ultimately flooding our gates with foreign workers in the commonwealth by suspending Public Law 11-69 in its entirety.

TAOTAO TANO states that instead of correcting the alleged INFLUX of nonresident workers in our homeland, a serious concern with U.S. congressional members, the individuals involved had sought making our own U.S. local residents JOBLESS and a MINORITY in their own homeland, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Since then our immigration and labor control has gotten worst. Major problems with human smuggling, human exploitation, labor abuse, sham marriages, illegal document processing and so forth were rampant. But again, TAOTAO TANO still maintains that it is beyond comparison to that of third world tortures and atrocities. Still, this is a huge failure on the part of our leaders for not rectifying a long problematic immigration and labor local control and prioritizing the need for foreign labor.

To all of you my fellow voters, I ask that you seek deep in your heart and think hard this upcoming election and let us not make the same mistakes over and over again. We must change these veteran elected officials who have led us to such uncertainties and mayhem and make that change this coming November once and for all in order to fix what is broken. Vote those that are willing to take on the challenge for Change, for the betterment of our people, our community and our homeland as a whole in the pursuit of a higher standard of living as intended in the spirit of our Covenant with the United States.

Taotao Tano






Monday, December 10, 2007

No to federalization

Tuesday December 11, 2007 Letter to the Editor:

DEAR people of the CNMI and voters of Precinct 1. My name is Juan Kapileo, a resident of As Lito, and I would like to share my thoughts about our island and the recent events that have transpired.
First, I am in disagreement with Ms. Tina Sablan saying that the people of Precinct 1 should not be surprised with her actions in participating with the protest action because she had already stated her stance on granting improved immigration status to guest workers and the federalization of local immigration.
The people of Precinct 1 voted for a person who will represent them and be their voice in the House of Representatives.
Your personal feelings about immigration and federalization are no longer the issues. We are the ones who voted you and you need to get abreast of the issues that plague your “voting” constituents.
There are many people who are just as surprised as I am with the path you are heading. Many people like me voted for you because you were for “transparency” in government. Had I known that the unity march and improved immigration status for guest workers were your first and primary agenda my family and friends would have not voted for you. I’m sorry but I feel that there are more important issues than these.
Since the U.S. Congress increased the minimum wage it has caused despair here. There have been businesses closing, jobs lost, hours cut and employee benefits reduced. Where is the U.S. Congress now? Where is the economic package to counter the impact of the minimum wage increase? What economic plan do you and your advisors have in place for us?
And now you want federalization? Guam considers itself a colony of the United States and is still pushing for a commonwealth status and control over its own immigration. It shows just how important it is for small islands like ourselves to have more control over immigration and other local matters.
Let’s assume we are federalized and go on with the minimum wage increases. What can the CNMI do to attract businesses to an already bleak economy without the flexibility to lure investors? How can we attract businesses without control of our immigration and too much federal restrictions? What about “OUR” submerged lands that we do not have control over? How can we stimulate tourism with high air fares and other islands such as Guam and Hawaii with the same tourist attractions competing for the same market? How do you propose to solve our economic problem with the federalization of local immigration? What plan do you have for the economy when the federal government could not figure out since 1979 to fuel it? How do you plan to tackle the high cost of fuel? How do you plan to tackle the problems with CUC? How do you plan to tackle the tax refund problem? How do you plan to solve our dwindling revenues? How about the problem with our Retirement Fund? What plan do you have for medical referrals, the lack of police officers and equipment, an inefficient hospital system and lack of supplies, including blood?
Please review the historic records because the federal government could not figure out how to create a stable and viable economy here since 1979.
I think that there are vast problems that you could have tackled but I guess everyone has their own priorities and local problems are the least of your concerns.
People use Guam as a model for federalization. I attended the field hearing on Guam and also the meeting for just the local residents and I was surprised at the disappointed residents expressing themselves about the lack of information coming from the federal government about the military buildup. Many expressed negative sentiments about the lack of business opportunities since the military base has its own schools, and will also build its power plant and use its own water and sewer instead of tapping into government of Guam lines. The military has built a big shopping mall, bowling complex, movie theater, Starbucks, etc. to ensure that its personnel stays within the bases. Oh yeah, we are going to benefit from this base relocation. Excuse me but I must have missed something here — how can we attract them with the high cost of air fare and room rates?
This year the feds tried to federalize Guam Customs without any prior notice being provided to the government there. But Guam pointed out that the feds could not do it unless the U.S. Congress changed the Guam Organic Act.
In the absence of any military base, garment industry revenues, lack of tourists arriving or new business investments, there will be no real positive benefits from federalization. Why don’t you advocate for the CNMI delegate provision attached to H.R. 3079 that provides for “limited voting powers.” I thought that we were all U.S. citizens.
Although the CNMI cannot have a real federalized immigration system to use as a role model, at best we just have to rely on the United States immigration system that has been the guide for all of us to follow and is responsible for more than 15 million illegal immigrants. Federalization is nothing more than taking the CNMI and bringing it back to colonial rule.
I believe that before people advocate federalizing our immigration and labor, they should go to American Samoa, Guam, Palau and the FSM and see the positive and negative effects of local or federal control of immigration on their economies.
Ask yourselves why Guam is also pushing for control over its immigration to expand its tourism market in China. Ask yourselves what sins or mistakes that the CNMI is being accused that don’t exist in the United States or other parts of the world.
I also want to remind the people of the CNMI that the people of Guam and Hawaii do not want any provision for an improved guest workers immigration status to be in H.R. 3079. We had a mandatory exit rule that was passed in the 1980s and 1990s but legislators and businesses wanted it repealed. The new labor reform law is intended to protect local jobs and promote jobs for local people and gradually phase out the dependence on contract workers.
I don’t think that it’s fair to provide an improved immigration status for contract workers who have been here for 10 or more years. What about the fate of the majority of contract workers who did not fall under this 10-year provision? Let’s not be discriminative and selective — let’s give it to everyone.
Federalization is nothing more than another step at making us a colony again and this is not right. Let us brace ourselves and see how many more people will be laid off from jobs and businesses packing up as the next minimum wage increase is set to take effect in 2008.
Voter of Precinct 1
As Lito, Saipan

1 comment:

bradinthesand said...

with regards to the serious issues, why didn't juan ask the same of the previously elected officials?

at least he's asking now...




Richard Gage, AIA, Architect - "How The Towers Fell" - 2 Hrs