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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






Thursday, December 13, 2007

Trampled by foreigners

121407 mv - Letter to the Editor:

I FEEL compelled to speak regarding this whole immigration fiasco we’ve got going on in our commonwealth at the moment.
Let me start by saying I support the intentions of the Taotao Tano organization in their fight to protect the indigenous people and other United States citizens from being overrun by foreigners. I firmly believe that the intent of the original laws that allowed the CNMI to import temporary labor to support its economy is being trampled on by these foreigners who now want to stay here permanently — as if they have the right to stay here for however long they please. That was not the original intention of the Covenant negotiators. The deal was that the commonwealth would be allowed to control its own immigration laws so as to allow the islands to build up an economy that would bring us to the same economic level of the other states and territories of the U.S. That has not happened yet and in fact it seems like we are going backwards. But that does not mean that we should change the rules in the middle of the game.
I completely understand the situation of the contract workers. A lot of them have been in the islands for a long time — some for 20 years or more. But what they must all understand is that they signed a contract that is renewable every year and that if for some reason their occupation is not needed anymore due to downsizing or if there is a qualified local citizen ready for the job, they would have to be repatriated to their home country. That was the deal then and that is the deal now.
So because some of them have been in the islands for a long time and have even started families here, they want to remain permanently because “this is their home.” What a bunch of baloney! We granted you the privilege to come and work here with the express understanding that you are to return home when your contract expires or is not renewed. Staying here is not a right!
There are those who say that this makes them disposable commodities and that they should be treated as though they are locals too. Yes, we will show you the respect that all human beings deserve as is our custom in our Chamorro and Carolinian cultures. At any time, these people can pack up their things and move with their families back to their home countries.
Dozens of countries enforce these kinds of laws worldwide. If they complain that their U.S. citizen children will require a visa of some sort then they should renounce their U.S. citizenship and apply to be a citizen of their home countries. Are they not proud to be a citizen of their own country? Give me a break!
What all people here in the CNMI must remember is that this land belongs to the indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians first and foremost. We are the descendants of the original Chamorro people who have lived in these islands for nearly 4,000 years. The Carolinians have been here for almost 200 years. Although we are a commonwealth of the U.S., we retain certain rights and privileges that distinguish ourselves from other U.S. commonwealths, territories and possessions. We were not annexed unilaterally by the U.S. We negotiated and elected to become U.S. citizens.
I for one cannot understand how some indigenous people can so easily say they support giving foreign contract workers the right to permanently stay in the CNMI. Do they not understand the long-term ramifications of that kind of a policy? These people will soon overwhelm our resources even more than they are now. They will slowly, slowly start expanding their population with citizens who will eventually vote in the future. They will then elect their own legislators and governors. Soon enough, they will put Article 12 on the ballot and overturn it. The indigenous Chamorros and Carolinians can then kiss their islands goodbye. We will go the way of the Native Hawaiians in their own homeland where most of their land — including prime Waikiki real estate — is owned by foreigners. We will be marginalized and forgotten in our own islands.
That was not the intention of the Covenant negotiators. They all fully understood that if the U.S. was to acquire a new piece of territory, it would do so where the indigenous inhabitants would not be shortchanged and neglected. In fact they would be given preferential treatment in just about everything, including land ownership. That is something we must all remember.
Now because our economy is suffering tremendously and because of negative press coverage in the past regarding old labor abuse problems, some people want to take advantage of that and argue that the CNMI should no longer be allowed to control its own immigration law. I absolutely understand that viewpoint. If federalization is truly inevitable — and I believe it is — then there must be some compromise. If foreign contract workers are to be allowed a special visa then they should go about it the normal legal way. They should apply, undergo a vigorous background check and interview, and then take the test that all immigrants must take before they are given their improved status. Otherwise, allow only those people who have been here 15 years or more — provided they are here legally — to be granted a special nonimmigrant status that will allow them to freely travel in the U.S. and its territories. After all, most of them probably deserve it.
But when we open up the doors to those who have been here for only five years, it’s a slippery slope that I strongly feel we shouldn’t go down. I don’t like that idea one bit.
Call me an indigenous Chamorro nationalist if you will but I have traveled around the globe and I consider myself an educated young man and I’ve seen and studied the plight of indigenous people across the planet and I don’t want the Chamorros and Carolinians to have to go down that route.
We don’t have to learn from our own mistakes — we can learn from the mistakes of others. I don’t want to see my islands being overrun by guests who came here with the sole intention of working to support their families back home but are now trying to change the rules when we are in our weakest hour. It’s not right and it’s not fair! With the federalization of our immigration laws seemingly imminent, full-blown colonialism is on its way. Watch and see.
Chalan Piao, Saipan


bradinthesand said...

so do you consider carolinians foreigners, too?



Carolinians are the indigenous too.




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