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Apr 2, 2008

A meeting to agree to 'meet' again on long-term resident status





Between 200 and 300 nonresident workers, as well as residents, showed up at the exploratory meeting on the long-term resident status public discussion initiative Wednesday night. A number of guest workers also remained outside Monte Carlo either because all seats were taken or for lack of $2 for the entrance fee (entirely for the use of the venue).

The question-and-answer didn’t start until 8:20 p.m. as the panelists consumed over an hour to introduce themselves, or praise the conduct of such an exploratory meeting, or explain why there’s such a meeting.

While many of the nonresident workers present were thankful that such a meeting was held and that they are being “heard” by “volunteer” lawyers, they also expressed frustration that the meeting dragged on for about four hours without agreeing on something other than having another exploratory meeting or having pocket meetings to discuss the viability of a long-term resident status for guest workers. The statements and answers given by the panelists were mostly a repetition of what was already said during the first two meetings.

All that most of the guest workers wanted was to have their leaders and Dekada lawyer Steve Woodruff tell Deanne Siemer, Maya Kara (and TaoTao Tano's Greg Cruz) that a grant of long-term residency should apply to those who have been here for five, seven or 10 years or more, and work from there. All they wanted was to have their leaders set the parameters and let the other party know where they stand; if only the guest worker leaders stood up and asked what the workers wanted, they’d have agreed on something albeit temporarily.

Many of the workers also said they were there just to hear what Siemer and Kara had to say; and they still prefer that their immigration status be addressed in the pending federalization bill. Local media representatives were there to cover the meeting. Rep. Tina Sablan, who is drafting a bill giving long-term residency status to certain guest workers, was also in the meeting.

Because the meeting dragged on for hours without really going anywhere, seats became empty, until this one young boy fell asleep (last photo).

66 comments:

HBM said...

Next time, maybe they could postpone the self-congratulations until the end of the meeting, so that people can leave early and get home at a decent hour.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...what do you call an event such as this? A waste of time or a waste of $2?

Anonymous said...

As a longterm guestworker I'm optimistic that this project will be materialize because we have locals and government representatives have also positve comments recognizing the value of contributions of longterm guestworkers......

lil_hammerhead said...

If this was a serious effort, I mean really serious one.. than maybe the Gov or Lt. Gov should have been there to give some opening remarks. You know, in a show of "good faith".

I've no concerns that Congresswoman Sablan's bill is crafted with the best intentions. She is absolutely trustworthy. I hope it is supported.

Anonymous said...

That will be our next plan to invite Gov. ,Lt.Gov.,Senate Pres.Speaker of the House,Chamber of Commerce Pres. with the helps of D.Siemer,M.Kara,Greg Cruz,Howard Willens (as observer last night),Atty. Wooddruff,Cong.Tina SablanDekada,Unity Core,MOVERS,UFO Pres.(21 organizations),businessman Tito Sablan and other locals lauded the LGWorkers.
I believed this process begins.............and Tina's Bill about LGWorkers plans to introduce in the congress in 30 days.....sounds good and lastly this discussions is CREDIBLE than others perspective.

downunderthunder said...

INVITE all those people so they can give more congradulation talks to each other for doing nothing yet?! Please! Quit all the BS fanfare and GET ER DONE. i am tired of renewing my IR husband who has lived in the CNMI longer than I have, and I am local. I am tired of worring about my students whose parents are non residents, but have lived here for YEARS AND YEARS.

Anonymous said...

125 was the accurate counted number, many of which still prefer the fed bill. The lawyers spent two hours praising themselves and patting themselves on the back.

Most still do not trrust authors of PL-15-108. I do not trust those who lobbyied to pull the grandfathering provision. I do not trust free lawyers that hide who they represent. Those most interested in NMI residency are long time illegals that have cheated the immigration system to remain in the commonwealth.

Tina is smart but she is walking a tightrope with this group.

This group below is comical:

That will be our next plan to invite Gov. ,Lt.Gov.,Senate Pres.Speaker of the House,Chamber of Commerce Pres. with the helps of D.Siemer,M.Kara,Greg Cruz,Howard Willens (as observer last night),Atty. Wooddruff

This would be Ben "they are all illegal and I will deport them" Fitial, NMI lawmakes who created these problems, authors of PL-15-108, & Mr. Cruz.

Gee, I think guest workers should have much faith in this groups sincere intentions for their longterm well being...hehehehe.

bradinthesand said...

"That will be our next plan to invite Gov. ,Lt.Gov.,Senate Pres.Speaker of the House,Chamber of Commerce Pres. with the helps of D.Siemer,M.Kara,Greg Cruz,Howard Willens (as observer last night),Atty. Wooddruff,Cong.Tina SablanDekada,Unity Core,MOVERS,UFO Pres.(21 organizations),businessman Tito Sablan and other locals lauded the LGWorkers."

you mean they weren't invited?

Anonymous said...

No one would argue that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Yet, today guest worker programs and the immigration debate has created controversy, fueled hatred, and spun debate in all corners of our country, and across the ocean to our territories. The issue of legal foreign guest workers has become blurred with the issue of illegal immigrants. The defeat of the Dream Act, the defeat of S.1348, Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, and even the removal of the grandfathering provision from CNMI federalization legislation demonstrates the effectiveness of nativists, supremacists, hate radio hosts, politicians, and lobbyists in campaigning against status for immigrants and their children.

However, there is evidence that the tide is changing. Immigration rights groups, human rights advocates, religious leaders, and individuals of conscience are pushing back and making inroads. Recent Republican exit polls in the Florida primary showed that only 16% of voters polled considered immigration as the most important issue facing this country. (The question wasn't on the Democrat exit poll.)

The Statue of Liberty stands in New York City Harbor with her back to the shores of the United States. She faces the sea with her torch raised to the world as if to beckon and welcome those coming to our nation seeking freedom, liberty, and the American dream. The statue was dedicated on October 28, 1886. This was a time when the United States accepted immigrants with open arms. Between 1881 and 1920 about 23.5 million immigrants settled in the United States. My ancestors were among them.

The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France who raised money primarily through voluntary donations to show their friendship to the people of the United States; to express their appreciation to a country that respected and upheld individual liberty. After the statue’s arrival in the U.S., the American people raised money through voluntary donations to build the pedestal upon which it would stand on Bedloe’s Island in New York City Harbor. Among the fund raisers was an art auction. American writers including Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and others sent original work to be auctioned to raise funds for the pedestal. But it was Emma Lazurus, a poet and an advocate for disenfranchised immigrants, who wrote the sonnet that sold for $1,500 and would later be inscribed on a plaque at the base of the statue after her death. Her poem is a tribute to our country’s willingness to share our wealth and opportunities with those seeking a better life:

The New Colossus
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

As the poem suggests, the U.S. was once a country that openly welcomed immigrants and foreign laborers knowing that they strengthened our nation through their labor, skills, and talents. It was a country that appreciated their contributions in creating the diverse fabric that makes the American culture.

One hundred twenty years later, some Americans fear that guest workers and immigrants are taking their jobs, straining infrastructures, taxing health care programs, and contributing to criminal activity in their communities. Wasn't that the premise of Resolution 80 that opposed the provision to grant FAS-type status to the long-term guest workers of the CNMI? The Catholic Bishops of Mexico and the United States are dispelling these myths through Justice for Immigrants, an educational advocacy campaign for immigration reform. This page gets the facts out with supportive documentation and data.

The fears that immigrants and guest workers negatively impact our society have been promoted extensively and relentlessly through the American media. CNN's Lou Dobbs, hosts a nightly anti-immigrant show that is biased and mean-spirited. Think Progress quoted Speaker Nancy Pelosi claiming that conservative hate radio programs, which make up 91% of the talk radio show airwaves, "hijacked the Senate immigration bill with xenophobic, anti-immigrant rhetoric."

Here are some statements that Think Progress attributed to the anti-immigrant, anti-guest worker radio hosts:

Michael Savage -"The the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) "the Ku Klux Klan of the Hispanic people."

Bill O'Rielly - "There is a segment of the population who, like The New York Times, wants to see some restrictions on migration in the Senate immigration bill eased or modified hate America, and they hate it because it's run primarily by white, Christian men. Let me repeat that. America is run primarily by white, Christian men, and there is a segment of our population who hates that, despises that power structure."

Neal Boortz - "On the June 18 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Neal Boortz advocated building a "double fence along the Mexican border, and stop the damn invasion." Boortz continued: "I don't care if Mexicans pile up against that fence like tumbleweeds in the Santa Ana winds in Southern California. Let 'em. You know, then just run a couple of taco trucks up and down the line, and somebody's gonna be a millionaire out of that."

Let's not forget hate radio's kings, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. The CNMI has it own anti-guest federal immigration radio and television hosts with Harry Blalock and John Gonzalez. Yet, it appears that all of these commentators just have the microphone that gives them the ability to speak loudly and reach millions. Their message does not reflect the thinking of the majority of the American population. As The New York Times indicated, these commentators do not speak for most Americans who support comprehensive immigration reform:

"More than half of those who favor the guest worker program say the workers should be allowed to apply to become permanent immigrants and eventually American citizens if they maintain a strong work history and commit no crimes. About a third of those who favored the program disagree, saying guest workers should be required to return home after their temporary period."

The immigration debate in America has helped to put a face on the guest workers and immigrants. For decades many Americans did not even think about the people who harvested their crops, constructed their buildings, and served in hundreds of essential jobs that they, themselves, would not want to perform. Now they do, and increasingly they support giving green cards to long-term guest workers.

I have always believed that green card status is the only status that the United States government should offer any long-term guest worker. This is the status that I have requested in conversations and letters to federal officials, members of the House Natural Resources Committee, and members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to support for the long-term guest workers of the CNMI. Anyone who has come to work on U.S. soil, who has provided his or his labor to advance our society and contribute to the social and economic good of our communities, deserves a pathway to citizenship. It is the only status that is morally, socially, economically, and politically correct. Anything less promotes disenfranchisement and indentured servitude, which does not support the democratic values upon which our nation was founded. Anything less is unAmerican.

In the case of the CNMI the U.S. government, the CNMI government, and representatives of the business community acknowledge that the CNMI needs approximately 18,000 foreign guest workers to provide an adequate workforce. We know that S. 2937 calls for a change to phase out of foreign contract workers under the current CNMI labor and immigration system and convert the guest workers to H-1 or H-2 workers under the federal system. There will be a one-year transition period from the time the bill is signed into law until the time it goes into effect with the U.S. immigration system with special provisions to met the needs of the CNMI. Lynn Knight, HANMI director, was quoted in a Saipan Tribune story this month as saying:

“We are short at least 18,000 employees, now filled by foreign workers,” said Knight. “The math is very, very simple. There's simply not enough local people here to fill all of the jobs.”

The solution is for the federal government to grant the long-term foreign contract workers (those who have lived and worked legally in the CNMI for 5 years or longer) green card status. Many of the long-term guest workers are parents of the estimated 5,000 to 7,000 U.S. citizen children who were born in the CNMI. If these legal guest workers were given green cards, the workforce would become stabilized and an adequate number of skilled workers would be ensured. This plan would give security to the workers and their families, and would provide the best possible solution to grow the economy of the CNMI.

While local plans may provide a temporary solution or be helpful in the year-long transition period from the time S. 2739 is passed until the law goes into effect, local plans cannot provide permanent stability. They would not free the guest workers from disenfranchisement. The CNMI government has no legal authority to provide non-resident workers with permanent status. They can only offer extended contracts or limited stays with an ending date, that may be renewed. (And only if proposed legislation or a constitutional amendment passes.) Additionally,what kind of lasting stability could be provided from a government that continually changes laws, decisions, and policies to perpetuate the maximum exploitation of guest workers? Any meaningful permanent status provided to the long-term guest workers will have to come from the federal government.

When first introduced, H.R. 3079 gave hope to the guest workers that they would finally receive some sort of status, albeit inferior to what they deserved after long years of sacrifice, sweat, and tears in building the CNMI. Yet, members of the House Natural Resources Committee, under pressure from lobbyists and island leaders in the CNMI and Guam, sent the bill out of committee with an amendment removing the provision. When I protested the removal of the status, suggesting that it jeopardized the integrity of the bill, I was told that this bill would establish federal immigration and labor law as a first step, and status for long-term guest workers would follow as the second step. We need to be proactive in reaching members of Congress now to ensure that green card status is what is granted after the federalization bill is signed into law.

Wendy Doromal
unheardnomore.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

The feds will start reviewing documents for status on arrival in Saipan as the law requires it must be complete within 2 years. That is what the Ben-Tan group has figured out and then developed this NMI residency concept.

The poor workers here are as easily led around and manipulated as a herd of sheep.

Anonymous said...

Long Term Residency, CNMI Laws, & Underwear

During the 1980’s, the CNMI had a long term residency law in effect. And promptly changed it. Via repeal by the CNMI Legislature.

Now these same longtime CNMI politicos urge those so long wholly disenfranchised by the CNMI’s laws and policies-----those being the overwhelming majority of the CNMI private sector workforce, labeled CNMI “non-resident” workers despite years of de facto CNMI presence-----to consider/accede to newly proposed CNMI “long-term-resident” laws of some type?

These of course the same CNMI politicos who in wholesale disregard, and utter contempt, for CNMI constituents have over the decades enacted-then-repealed, enacted-then-ignored, and enacted-without-enforcement, CNMI laws, time and again. As to minimum wage. As to fair labor standards. As to workers’ rights. As to immigration. As to retirement fund obligations. As to fuel surcharges. As to gambling. As to garments. And garments. And garments. And garments, etcetera ad nauseam.

And, of course, used CNMI taxpayer funds, to the tune of $10 million, to fund felonious lobbyist Jack “Honest Abe” Abramoff to make waves, for BenTan’s puppeteer-in-charge, in Willie-fully and garmently-transparent-fashion?

Knowing as we all do, that longtime CNMI politicos change their laws significantly more often than their underwear---once a week at minimum, it seems, in less severe cases---how can these longtime CNMI politicos now expect the disenfranchised but intelligent masses to now rely, with any sense of good faith or common sense or reasonable expectation of fairness, on any CNMI legislation, as to “long-term resident status”? Or CNMI legislation as to any other matter affecting these workers’ human rights, dignity, equality, or well-being?

These workers know better. The kindhearted CNMI general public knows better. It seems that the few who don’t know better are…well, these same CNMI politicos.

Change laws. Change underwear. Laws. Underwear. Or, maybe the underwear’s just too taught, too small---restrictive circulation with cerebral complication---at the CNMI’s garmently-endowed-gubernatorial-hall?

President CEO
Ben-Tan Folly

Anonymous said...

The Senate vot is next week and guest worker supporters here are compiling testimony and facts to endorse improved status, a provision of s.2739 that must be decided withing two years.

Anonymous said...

I suggest a bounty for ILLEGAL ALEINS, SCAMMERS, IMMIGRATION FRAUD PARTICIPANTS, SELF EMPLOYED WORKERS, WORKERS WHO OWN BUSINESSES, and all other activity that is illegal.

We want those that can not return to their home country deported back, as we don't want their criminal asses here.

Anonymous said...

I want US labor and immigration to get rid of the scummy Chinese and poor pathetic Filipinos...yea federal.

Anonymous said...

Was Brad and Lil invited?

lil_hammerhead said...

To anonymous 3 comments up - You're the "criminal" ass.

You're right Brad.. why weren't all of these people invited from the get go.

You know what will happen with "permanent status".. you'll have unafraid employees. Businesses here don't want this. Their control over employees silences calls for improved pay and working conditions. It also deters unionization.

I'd venture to say, you won't see HANMI encouraging this.

Bruce A. Bateman said...

Open market labor works both ways. Employers would no longer be on the hook for a years contract for most labor positions. If business warrents it, hire more, if not, let some go. That flexibility is far preferrable to most on both sides of the equation. Employers would also not be on the hook for 100% medical expenses, housing, free trips back home, etc.

The current system makes slaves of both the employee and the employer. Each to the other and each to the State. It is far cheaper and far better for both sides to bargain freely for labor and jobs. Ask anyone who employs here, would you rather pay $5.75 escalating to $7.25/hour and let the employee shoulder all his own expenses and be responsible for his own job seeking if let go? Yes will be the overwhelming response.

That said, would 'enhanced status' bring about that level of equality? Or does one side or the other get the upper hand once again once a different government sticks it's fingers into the employment pie. Different masters, same slaves?

glend558 said...

Learn to recognize bullshit when you see and hear it. If it sounds to good to be true,it is.
Want crediability, stick with Tina, and only her. The rest are selfish and self serving, thats all...

Anonymous said...

Its all nothing and waste of time! Pls. support the fedaralization bills! Attend the prayer rally on Saturday!
Thank you!

Armchair Lawyer said...

To President & CEO, Ben-Tan Folly:

Whatever else might be wrong with granting either CNMI permanent residence for those here over 15 years, or five-year semi-permanent residence (without restrictions as to employment, and no approval of contracts by government) to those here over 10 years, the problem of the CNMI government trying to retract the deal is not one of the issues.

The District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands has made it abundantly clear that Foreign National Workers have liberty and property interests in such status once conferred. It cannot be taken away once granted -- as was attempted in 1981.

So there is at least one bright spot. And let's hear it for an independent federal judiciary!

lil_hammerhead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lil_hammerhead said...

"The current system makes slaves of both the employee and the employer."

The system was and still is, to say the least, highly influenced by larger companies here. They are what they've become through the policies they pushed.. i.e. - cheap labor, absolute dependence on foreign workers, etc.

To suggest that they are in the same boat with regards to their situations as their non-resident workers, is simply ludicrous. In fact, it is absolutely ignorant of the past 30 years of business influence on our government policies relating to business and the workforce.

Equating the individuals/businesses who were instrumental in setting up the current slave system (and still work to maintain it), with the worker/pseudo -slaves is on the face of it, silly and assanine.

Anonymous said...

Agreed Li'l

Out of 18,000 guest workers 100 -300 show up. They vast majority of the guest workers don't trust the players and don't trust the plan unless it comes from Tina and is clean -free of the dirty hands of Kara, Siemer and Cruz -the anti-fed, pro PL 15-108 "core group."

Anonymous said...

Will see how many of you in "microphone" rally on Saturday April 5 since federal issue delayed again....so what's new there?.......think?

Anonymous said...

There is no "microphone" rally. Delays and opposition? HMMMM -Willens, Siemer, Lynn Knight, Fitial. Some of the same people asking the guest workers to follow them and trust them.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Siemer identified herself as a free government consultant but now goes by free independent strategist.

What strategy is being employed here? Is the strategy to send Willens, Fitial, Knight, and the chamber president to lobby DC against federalization while the other members of the chamber/HANMI/government core devide the unity core?

The fear for guest workers is not that the FFF (Fitial Fed Fighters) are lying, the fear should be if they can make this NMI residency work. They are already claiming 21groups of support which is ridiculus.

Do guest workers want to live in America but not have the american dream for their children? Please don't entertain HANMI's for you to not be allowed to not being travel, not able to live in a free market society, and not be allowed to bring family members here?

Do not let yourselves be sidetracked by deceit and keep your eye on the prize.

I support improved status to green card with an unobstructed path to citizenship. Nothing else is fair and nothing else is right.

Anonymous said...

Armchair Lawyer, there is no way for you to say in advance that the CNMI would not be able to retract whatever rights they might give guest workers regarding some better status. We don't know what the status would look like, or whether the district court sitting in the future would find some way to distinguish the new situation from the single case you cite. And also, of course, you're just citing a District Court decision. The case that you cite may add something useful to the conversation, but certainly provides no guarantee that the guest workers won't end up getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

Is it true that NMI residency / Siemer group are boycotting the Prayer Vigil? The workers have poor organization and inadaquate leadership. Perhaps the prayer should be for the Siemer / Core group.

Anonymous said...

No...The prayer should be for Gerry Custodio and Ron Hodges...you will see....hehehe

Anonymous said...

Actually the prayer vigil is for ALL guest workers and community members. Every group has been invited. This Siemer plot cannot divide the workers -they are not stupid.

Armchair Lawyer said...

"Do guest workers want to live in America but not have the american dream for their children? Please don't entertain HANMI's for you to not be allowed to not being travel, not able to live in a free market society, and not be allowed to bring family members here?"

Any children born here are already U.S. citizens, with full access to the American dream whether educated in the CNMI, China, or the Philippines. Whether Semi-Permanent or Permanent Residents could bring immediate family from abroad is subject to negotiation, just like the status itself.


"[T]here is no way for you to say in advance that the CNMI would not be able to retract whatever rights they might give guest workers regarding some better status. We don't know what the status would look like, or whether the district court sitting in the future would find some way to distinguish the new situation from the single case you cite. And also, of course, you're just citing a District Court decision. The case that you cite may add something useful to the conversation, but certainly provides no guarantee that the guest workers won't end up getting screwed."

Sorry, counsel, you're wrong. The District Court decision was not something made up of whole cloth, but based on established legal precedent. (I think one of the cases may have been affirmed by the Ninth Circuit, but haven't researched it.)

The whole point of living in a society based upon rule of law is that there will be settled expectations. It is more than just "useful," it is long-established precedent. I am so sure of the issue, I am willing to wager a substantial amount of money, say, one thousand dollars, in writing.

There may be many reasons to reject CNMI Permanent Residence or CNMI Semi-Permanent Residence. But calling up the specter of ex post facto nullification by the CNMI, condoned by the federal judiciary, is blatant fear mongering and pandering to the insecurities of Foreign National Workers who have minimal understanding of the U.S. Constitution.

Let us keep the dialog to a higher level, shall we?

cactus said...

I know this may be hard for a lot of you to believe, but the reason for many people’s opposition to federalization (including mine) has nothing whatsoever to do with racism or economic exploitation, and is based 100% on the principle of local self-government.

From that perspective, a solution developed locally might be either good or bad, depending on its merits, but a solution imposed federally can only be bad, not because it is necessarily bad in and of itself, but because it is imposed, and can only be changed, improved, or abolished, federally.

PL 15-108 was a bad local solution, because it exacerbates exploitative conditions by making it harder for unpaid workers to obtain redress. The current proposals for long-term residency and free work rights sounds to me like a good local solution.

Support Woodruff and Dekada on residency, but oppose them on federalization. Support our right to create a good, fair and lasting local solution.

Anonymous said...

Federalization is a done-deal. There will be federal status also.

Anonymous said...

Again, Armchair Lawyer, there is no way for you to say in advance that the CNMI would not be able to retract whatever rights they might give guest workers regarding some better status. The fact that the decision was "not made up out of whole cloth" does not mean that a future court would not find a way to distinguish whatever comes out of this process from whatever the prior court ruled on. At this point, we don't even know what the "it" is, so you're in no position to pronounce that "it" is constitutionally bullet-proof. And how can you say that we're dealing with longstanding, established precedent when the CNMI's situation is one of only two exceptions to the rule of federal control over immigration? It's not as if this question could have been addressed scores of times before in the particular context that applies here. It's one thing to state your belief that this can be done in a way in which constitutional rights should vest. It's quite another to suggest in advance, as you're doing, that the guest workers have nothing to worry about. BS!

Ron Hodges said...

In response to the inaccuracies of Mr. Woodruff’s attack I would like to correct the official historical record.

1. “Lil, you make the mistake of relying on Ron Hodges for information on this topic. I could say much more but will exercise restraint for the time being. Suffice to say that Ron had the opportunity to know the facts and actually understand the process but chose instead to willfully refuse to learn the truth and to insult the workers, their leaders, and their counsel. “

The insult Mr. Woodruff must be referring to was at Malou’s house. I quietly and calmly stated “In my opinion, it is a poor strategy to veer from the goal, as I understand them, of improving the status for guest workers here, and to discuss a lesser form of NMI residency, does, in my opinion show weakness”. At the point Mr. Woodruff began yelling into a tirade about his history here to the point my wife, standing behind him with my 2 year old, began to cry. I said nothing other than “your work to help guest workers is admirable.” Mr. Woodruff left immediately. Other guest workers present asked me “Ron, would you prefer status or would you prefer helping your family”. I concurred that I would prefer helping my family but I disagree with this strategy to achieve that.

2. "Perhaps the most apt way to describe the is situation is this: Sadly, Ron Hodges has chosen to "spit in the soup" of workers and long-term alien residents of the CNMI."

There is nothing my long time guest worker now green card holding wife and I would not do, peacefully and non-violently, to aid the long disenfranchised workers here. To say otherwise is a lie promulgated by an unknown agenda. A short time ago a guest worker asked me if I would contribute to a fund with a goal of 20,000. dollars to retain Steve Woodruff to take legal action against PL-15-108 and I said “no” I would not contribute, and good luck gathering 20k in donations from this economy.

3. "He recently wrote a piece entitled "The Truth" that he induced Jerry Custodio and his Human Dignity Movement to distribute with their fliers promoting their Pro-Federalization prayer vigil for Saturday, April 5, 2008.Just about the only true thing in Ron's "The Truth" handbill was the text of his excerpt from Article II, sect. 5(d) of the Commonwealth Constitution (and perhaps the suggestion that Jim Benedetto supplied the reference, although I don't know why Ron would not be able to look it up for himself).
To borrow a phrase from William Safire, Ron's handbill was "a veneer of fact unencumbered by truth." It simply demonstrates the verity that the most pernicious lies are those that contain a germ of truth.

This is not true. I showed up at the press conference and Jerry handed me the handbill. It is reprinted from a Chamberonomics piece that has already appeared in our newspaper, so I don’t understand the big deal. Someone, possibly Jerry, changed the title to “Truth” without my knowledge or direction. Jerry and other participants would confirm that.

4. "I refer to the Saturday, April 5 event as "thier" rally and vigil because they elected to exclude the rest of the Unity Movement (and rejected our every effort to get them to coordinate with, and have the participation of, the other groups), instead meeting in secret to plan and collude with Ron Hodges. Sad and disturbing but true.I do not like to point this out, but failing to do so would be a disservice to people who need to know what is really going on.

Again, this is more misinformation. Jerry told me the Human Dignity Movement was having a prayer service the week before I left to the US to visit my son, joining the USMC. I am not a member of the HDM or any other group. I did not participate in organizing this event other than telling Jerry my wife and I would attend. He also asked me to speak to which I answered “only if you can’t find other speakers.” If you are going to inform the public, sir, please try to get several of the facts straight. I invited 2 people to attend, Ken O'Harnett and Mark Hanson, no one else. What decent person anywhere would try to derail a prayer vigil?

5. "If there is ever any appearance weakness in the public's support of federalization it will be the consequence of the irresponsible actions of Ron Hodges, some others, and those who regrettably have been lead astray by Ron and his ilk -- not of this process. You will please note that Jerry Custodio, under the influence of Ron Hodges, has in this past two days' (Wednesday and Thursday)'s papers publicly divided his group from the rest of the Unity Movement. He has erroneously maintained that this process is inconsistent with federalization and that a bill by Rep. Tina Sablan is a preferable alternative to this process.
In fact, no such bill even exists (although Tina has been working with House counsel and some of her colleagues on a draft). Moreover, Tina supports this process and was present at last night's highly successful third meeting. That's right, all this tempest in a teapot is over just three meetings.
The attacks on this process are unwarranted and based ignorance and analytical failure -- unfortunately, sometimes willfully so."


Such a vicious attack. The reason I said nothing to Mr. Woodruffs original tirade is that I did not want to cause division. Secret meetings and unknown deals may cause division though, as Lil, Wendy Doromal, and Irene T. have so eloquently pointed out. I am more convinced now than ever that guest workers would fare better under a federally managed immigration system than a NMI system.

6. "There is no Trojan Horse or anything even remotely resembling a Trojan Horse, only some ill-informed and misguided (or self-deluded) souls running from nonexistent chimeras conceived in the least reliable murky reaches of the human psyche. "

In my opinion, the most glaringly oblivious things we have learned from our open market of ideas on Lil’s & middle Road blog, are that NMI guest workers have long been the most underrepresented group of workers on US soil at least since the early 20th century and that Saipan would benefit from a US system of labor and immigration. I am in favor of improving the status of CNMI guest workers to green card, I am in favor of amnesty for workers mislead by a weak current system, and I am in favor of an unobstructed path to US citizenship for every guest worker in the commonwealth. Further, I do not support the Governor, HANMI, or the chamber’s constant attempts to lobby Washington DC to the determent of our guest workers, our indigenous populace, or the future of the NMI.

Mr. Woodruff, I will thank you to never address me again for any reason and I will afford you the same courtesy, sir.

HBM said...

Cactus, not to renew our discussion from before, but by your logic, federal control over immigration anywhere in the U.S. would be inherently "bad". (In fact, applying your words literally, federal control over anything, including defense, is inherently "bad," although I'm sure that's not your position.) Can you cite other examples of nations that let local subdivisions of the nation control their own immigration? I agree with you that local control, all things being equal, is better than federal control. But I completely disagree that immigration is an area well suited to local self-government. The evidence is all around us. What was the point of the NMI joining the U.S. in the first place if there's such a strong resistance to the U.S. exercising the most fundamental aspect of national sovereignty over the NMI? Was the point just to receive federal money? I don't think so.

Anonymous said...

The permanent residency proposal is dead as a doornail. There is no way they are going to be able to amend the constitution to allow permanent residency for Filipinos and Chinese. No way.

The "volunteers" who are advancing it know it is dead. They know they don't have the votes to do it in the legislature, and don't even know if Benignorant Fitial would support it. That's why there were no more specifics offered at the meeting.

The Federal bill is on the verge of passage, and their strategy of co-opting the workers as anti-federalization fighters was "outed" early enough to defuse the whole concept. The proponents of the residency idea had too little credibility to generate more than a bit of curiosity. Typical of this government, it was too little, too late.

The Feds will offer green card status six months after passage of the federal bill.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hodges was again unfairly attacked. To answer his question, "who would try to derail a prayer vigil", we need only to look at the people here that would falsley acuse a Catholic nun, Sister Stella, as Father Joe, Ron, and Wendy Doromal already pointed out. Those people, Mr. Hodges, are who would try to block a prayer vigil.

Thank you, Mr. H and kudos to you.

Armchair Lawyer said...

HBM said...

"Can you cite other examples of nations that let local subdivisions of the nation control their own immigration? I agree with you that local control, all things being equal, is better than federal control. But I completely disagree that immigration is an area well suited to local self-government. The evidence is all around us. What was the point of the NMI joining the U.S. in the first place if there's such a strong resistance to the U.S. exercising the most fundamental aspect of national sovereignty over the NMI? Was the point just to receive federal money? I don't think so."

In Sweden, the Aland Islands (whose inhabitants speak Finnish) have immigration self-control, as do several British colonies. Others might be mentioned in the Covenant negotiations.

The reason for immigration self-control arises out of the fact that our economy is still wholly separate from the United States, due to geography. Totally different factors apply, such as Chinese and Russian tourism.

The reason for the local failures are due in large part to the utter failure of the United States to devote adequate law enforcement resources here. Compare the number of Assistant U.S. Attorneys or FBI agents we have to the U.S. Virgin Islands. We have been set up to fail!

If the U.S. government won't do its job, that makes it much, much harder for the CNMI government to succeed.

The point of joining the USA was to be part of the United States, but with allowances for the different economic and geographic circumstances here compared to the mainland.

I have full and utter respect for the United States, which is why we need a Delegate in Congress, a resident U.S. Attorney, and an Article III federal judge with life tenure.

We also need a resident EEOC attorney, and lots more federal special agents. The way the federal government has given us short shrift as to law enforcement resources here, it is no surprise things have not gone as well as possible.

Federal immigration right now is not the answer.

First we need adequate federal law enforcement resources.

Armchair Lawyer said...

Sorry, I had it backwards. The Aland islands are a Swedish-speaking province of Finland.

cactus said...

". . . by your logic, federal control over immigration anywhere in the U.S. would be inherently 'bad'."

I don't think so. In those parts of the US that are represented in the federal government, federal control is popular control -- more diluted than village control, certainly, but still fundamentally popular. Federal control here, by contrast, would be entirely external. That very fact is what makes it bad.

Armchair, that is an interesting fact about the Aland Islands. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own problems that we forget there are other places in the world dealing with these same kinds of issues.

I wonder: Who are the success stories of the world's many small island jurisidictions, and what can we learn from them?

Anonymous said...

I have an idea for all nonresident workers working for companies that are members of HANMI.

Decide on a day when all nonresident workers should call in sick. Then go to see a doctor and have your employer pay for your visit.

Let's see if HANMI's president can take care of their guests and customers.

You will be heard, loud and clear, and you won't be terminated because many, if not most, of businesses here do not want to pay for the cost of recruitment and repatriation.

Anonymous said...

The NMI pushed for immigration control in order to preserve the local majority. The U.S. agreed to temporary local immigration control. Instead of using local immigration control to protect the local majority, CNMI authorities (supported, in more ways than one, but outside business interests) used that control to bring in so many guest workers that the locals became outnumbered. This is what has created the out-of-control situation in the CNMI. How can you blame the Feds for failing to spend enough money to keep up with the great demands that have been caused by the way in which the CNMI has abused its local control over immigration for purposes that were never intended? Your argument is: "Let us do whatever we want, notwithstanding the way in which we've abused this privilege. But federal taxpayers should pick up the tab." This is undemocratic in that it makes federal taxpayers liable for an open-ended tab that they have no control over.

Anonymous said...

"but outside business interests" should be "by outside business interests".

Expose the Cheap Feds said...

There's no "open-ended tab." The feds haven't even spent a bare minumum here on federal law enforcement.

Compare the CNMI to the U.S. Virgin Islands.

How do you think they'll suddenly be motivated to do right by us with immigration?

They are already screwing us in what little immigration they already control, making our indigent citizens fly their spouses down to Guam for fingerprinting so they can get green cards or citizenship.

Outrageous!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, right. The bottom line is that you still want the right to make a big mess (already accomplished) and stick American taxpayers with the tab. That's called, in polite terms, a "sense of entitlement." It wasn't the feds that let in so many foreign workers that the locals became a minority. It was the CNMI government. Outrageous!

rev said...

ey weird elle...

Weird Elle said...

yes Rev?

Marianas Pride said...

Yes, once again, let us blame everything on EVIL AMERICA.

America, damn you!

How dare you free our people from the Japanese during WWII! We enjoyed being slaves to the Japanese, working the fields until our fingers bled! We didn't want to control our government! No sir!

How dare you give us billions of dollars of aid over the years for us to spend on our infrastructure! Of course we did squander most of the money on political jobs, junket trips, and more biba corruption tactics.

How dare you continue to give us millions in aid, food stamps, housing allowance, education, health, and other federally funded programs such as WIC! We don't need your handouts! What? Oh wait. We do but screw you anyway!

How dare you think you can do a better job than our local immigration and labor system! We do an awesome job! Can't you tell by how many garment workers that are overstaying and hiding out?

How dare you try to raise the minimum wage! We want to lower our minimum wage to 50 cents per hour! That way we can compete against other third-world countries! Hell, we should also put six-year olds to work at shoe factories, just like they do in Malaysia and Philippines! Yes, that's the ticket!

FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO DO NOT UNDERSTAND SARCASM, I AM NOT BEING SERIOUS HERE. NOTE TO ALL REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE CNMI: OUR ECONOMY IS IN THE TOILET NOT BECAUSE OF THE UNITED STATES. IT IS BECAUSE OF GREED, NEPOTISM, AND STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID STUPID DECISIONS. WE NEED REAL LEADERS RIGHT NOW WHO CAN GET US OUT OF THESE PROBLEMS.

LET'S ALL STOP BLAMING AMERICA AND START LOOKING IN THE MIRROR AT THE REAL CULPRITS. WE MADE OUR BED AND WE ARE SLEEPING IN IT. IF WE WANT A NEW BED, THEN MAYBE IT IS TIME WE WAKE UP AND STOP VOTING BASED ON FAMILY AND START VOTING ON INTEGRITY AND HONESTY AND INTELLIGENCE.

BIBA TINA SABLAN, RALPH TORRES, AND OTHER YOUNG LEADERS WHO VOTE WITH THEIR HEART AND THEIR MIND AND NOT THEIR BLOODLINE.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Marianas Pride! And I am NOT being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Tina Sablan Governor
Ed Propste Lt. Gov

Anonymous said...

Yes, Marianas Pride, but don't you see? In spite of all those billions of dollars that we've received over the years, we do not bear any responsibility for all of our labor and immigration problems--it's all because of the feds' stinginess! Without Armchair Lawyer, I would never have been able to figure that out. :-)

Anonymous said...

Please just leave it to longterm guestwokers what their decisions,respect what there wants.....are you willing to help or to hire those who are not renewed ......are you willing to feed them with there families....are you there in airport comforting those hundreds of Filipino people who are going back to their country for good ....if you cannot help please leave to us our DECISIONS ......salamat po....

Anonymous said...

Facts and example:Gerry Custodio asked Ron Hodges to help or to hire him because his jobless until now......does he help Gerry C.?......nice picture in Saipan Tribune Maharlika.....congrats....

Anonymous said...

i helped take oral histories at from our manamko at the manamko center (at civic center) about fifteen years ago. the manamko had fond memories fo japanese times actually marianas pride. the situations did not get bad until world war two. fyi. all the manamko i interview said that they were treated well by the japanese government until before the us military was coming.

Anonymous said...

Saipan was not 'liberated' in 1944 it was invaded and forcably taken by the US. The local population did what most war survivors do all over the world. They smiled and waved at the victors, whoever they may be, and bought their spam.

Guam was invaded and captured by the Japanese, and was actually 'liberated' by US troops (i.e. brought back into the fold of US Territiories) after a lapse of 2 1/2 years or so.

Liberation Day here in the CNMI refers to the local population being liberated from the concentration camps they were placed in by the US occupying force. Striped Flag waving and patriotic speeces aside that is what 'Liberation Day' really means here.

Marianas Pride said...

Dear Anonymous, I wasn't there. But I studied history and I also interviewed many manamko, including my later Grandfather, Henry S. Pangelinan. In fact, I have videos of the interviews.

I am surprised by your comments. If farming is what they were fond of and not leading their own government, then power to them. But every single manamko I spoke to hated what the Japanese did. Study Guam history. NOT ONE MANAMKO WILL TELL YOU THEY LOVE JAPANESE DURING WORLD WAR II. TALK TO THE U.S. VETS. I DID. I STUDIED IT. IF YOU WANT, CALL ME AT 670-483-7361 AND LET'S MEET AND DISCUSS THIS FURTHER. I USE MY REAL NAME AND NUMBERS BECAUSE I AIN'T SCARED.

ARE YOU????

Anonymous said...

Dianne is a smart lawyer good or bad intentions for the foreign workers up to the workers to decide if they are gonna trust her.

Gerry C. is a trying hard overacting person he just like to be always on the headline even if he doesn't make sense anymore.

Ron is just a plain jerk!

Anonymous said...

Gerry C. and Ron H. Rally ....hundred or hundreds?....hehehehehe

Armchair Lawyer said...

If you took my comments as anti-American, Marianas Pride, you need to read them again.

To the contrary, we need an adequate level of American law enforcement resources in the CNMI.

No, I am not arguing that "American stinginess" is the root cause of all problems in the CNMI.

What I am saying is that the specific issues cited by Allen Stayman and David B. Cohen as reasons for federalizing immigration -- most notably human trafficking and worker abuse -- have been federal offenses for years, and are exacerbated by the wholly inadequate level of federal law enforcement in the CNMI for three decades.

There is plenty of blame to go around, but to use a federal shortcoming as the key rationale for reducing local self-government is the height of despotism and abuse of naked power in the halls of Congress.

If federalization next week is really a "done deal," without even the public release of the GAO report, the political bullying is transparently cynical.

I love America! But if federalization passes, we will need to redouble or quintiple our level of prayers in the CNMI, and there will be some very unfortunate Foreign National Workers (my own family included) on their way home.

You reap what you sow.

Ron Hodges said...

Chamberonomics 47...prayer vigil

Guest workers here have exhibited unimaginable patience. Hopefully, this never ending struggle will soon be over. I believe S.2739, currently before the US Senate, will soon pass unanimously. I also believe the President of the United States will sign this bill into law, and the US will gain control of the NMI labor and immigration system.

I believe this will foster a new era in the commonwealth. I believe this will create a community driven by a free market system. I believe the standards of living, wages, and the quality of life for our long mistreated guest workers and our indigenous populace will begin to improve. I believe the United States is our friend, certainly not our enemy.

All of you here, at American Memorial Park this evening, have a claim to America that no other immigrants before you can boast. All of you here can be proud that you have served your time. You have worked, labored, and toiled to build a part of America. America is a country of immigrants. No immigrants before you were brought to US soil with promises of work in America, and now, in many cases 20 years after your arrival, you still do not have working status in America. You still do not have the freedom to change employers. You still do not have the freedom to travel or move. You still do not have the right to bring your family, including spouses and children to live beside you. You are officially veterans of the Northern Mariana Islands, and whether you are Filipino, Bangladeshi, Chinese, or other, no immigrant group before you can boast what you can.

I can assure you, that every decent mainland American that knows this story is proud of each of you, and of each of your contributions. I assure you, that every decent American aware that you have long been denied unalienable human rights is outraged. I assure you, this case will come out. I assure you, that justice, no matter how slow, will prevail here.

I will never stop highlighting this case until the U.S. grants improved status and green cards for our long abused guest workers. I will never veer from the belief that each of you has already earned the right to an unobstructed path to US citizenship. No immigrants in U.S. history, not my ancestors or anyone else anywhere, can boast the accomplishments you can.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

dekada lawyer said...

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT

UPCOMING COMMUNITY DISCUSSION FORUMS

TOPIC: WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON A POSSIBLE LONGER-TERM RESIDENCE STATUS FOR QUALIFIED FOREIGN WORKERS

WHEN AND WHERE:

Kagman Community Center
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
(Kagman, Capitol Hill, Papago, Santa Lourdes)

San Vicente Elementary School Cafeteria
Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
(DanDan, San Vicente, Kannat Tabla, Fina Sisu)

Garapan Elementary School Cafeteria
Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
(San Roque, Tanapag, As Matuis, Puerto Rico, Garapan)

Koblerville Community Center
Thursday, April 17, 2008 at 6:00 p.m.
(San Antonio, Koblerville, Chalan Piao, Chalan Kanoa, Oleai, Susupe)

YOUR OPINIONS ARE WELCOMED:

How many years of successful work in the Commonwealth do you think should qualify a foreign worker for longer-term residence status?

What do you think of social responsibility requirements such as basic English skills and classes in CNMI history?

What kind of financial responsibility requirements do you think would be fair?

What other factors do you think should be considered?

dekada shyster said...

pleeese can we still meet with TTT and Deanne...pleeese help us evin if fed bill passed already...we want free lunch

plain dumb worker said...

must we be forced to smile while listening to those american lawyers for hours again even after federal?

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Are you looking for Finance?
Are you looking for a Loan to enlarge your business?
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Interested people should please contact us on
For immediate response to your application, Kindly
reply to this emails below only
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LOAN APPLICATION INFORMATION FORM
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Middle name:
Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):
Gender:
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Time Duration:
Address:
City:
State/province:
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Country:
Phone:
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Mobile/cellular:
Monthly Income:
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