When you get stuck along Beach Road, better take the Middle Road. This is a website for those who choose to tread Saipan's off the beaten path. * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * +

May 9, 2008

President Bush Signs CNMI Federalization and Delegate Bills Into Law

President Bush on Thursday signed into law S. 2739, which includes provisions to bring CNMI immigration under federal control and to allow CNMI voters to elect a non-voting delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The President's signing of the bill comes as no surprise to most people, since his administration had testified earlier this year that federalization should occur "as soon as possible." However, some in the local administration had suggested that with the recent change of leadership at the Department of the Interior's Office of Insular Affairs, the Bush Administration would back off from its strong support for federalization. That notion has proven to be baseless wishful thinking.

Some local officials have presumed to interpret S. 2739 in ways that would be harmful to the CNMI and its residents. Although these local officials have asserted these views with great confidence, their interpretations appear to be out of step with the clearly stated intentions of the U.S. Congress (which, after all, is what counts). Here are some things that Saipan Middle Road's research staff has uncovered in the Senate report on the CNMI immigration federalization bill:

The intent of Congress is "to ensure effective border control and security by extending the INA with special provisions for: phasing out contract workers; minimizing adverse economic effects; recognizing local self-government; assisting the development of the CNMI economy; providing opportunities for locals to work; providing for the continued use of alien workers as necessary; and protecting workers from abuse." The "phasing out" of contract workers can occur over a long period of time, as discussed below, and even after the special guest worker program is eventually phased out, the CNMI will always be able to admit foreigners under the same rules that apply to the rest of the country.

Furthermore, "in recognition of the CNMI's unique circumstances, [the CNMI should] be given flexibility to maintain and develop businesses and...the Government of the CNMI [should be] fully involved in the implementation process."

The bill "would extend the immigration laws of the U.S. to the CNMI along with several special provisions to meet the special needs of the CNMI."

The CNMI's guest worker program will be taken over by the federal government and transformed into a Transitional Workers Program. That program will be separate from the existing federal program where foreign nationals will be enter the CNMI through H visas and other visas. "There will be two similar programs operating in the CNMI."

The Transitional Workers Program is originally scheduled to last through the end of 2014. However, the program can be extended indefinitely for periods of up to five years at a time. The Senate believes that "[i]t is most unlikely that the CNMI will be able to meet its labor needs and forego the Transitional Workers Program in five years. It is expected that there will be at least one, and probably more than one, five-year extension."

During the transition period, there will be no limit on the number of workers who can enter the CNMI (or Guam) on H visas. In the U.S. generally, there is an annual limit of 65,000 H-1B visas for professional and specialty workers, 20,000 additional H-1B visas for workers with at least a master's degree or its equivalent, and 66,000 H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers. The Senate report makes it clear that the intention is "that this waiver of the numerical limitations for Guam and the CNMI is extended along with any extension of the five-year transition period.

With respect to long-term guest workers, the Act would require that "the [U.S.] Administration, in consultation with the CNMI, to report to Congress, no later than the second year after enactment on the population of aliens, status of aliens under federal law, future requirements of the CNMI for an alien workforce, and recommendations on whether Congress should consider permitting such workers long-term status under" U.S. law. No guarantees here, but the issue remains alive.

On fees, the Senate report "encourages the DHS, and all other Federal agencies involved in implementing the transition program period, to keep the costs associated with the transition program period on employers and non-immigrant guest workers at the same level as is currently being assessed by the CNMI government under local law."

On the visa waiver for tourists and other visitors: "The regulations should include countries for which the CNMI has received a significant economic benefit from the number of visitors for pleasure within the one-year period preceding the date of enactment. In drafting such regulations, the Committee encourages DHS to consult with the CNMI tourism industry to determine which tourists markets have contributed to the benefit of the CNMI economy and that such benefit can be measured in terms of hotel occupancy, length of stay, and expenditures." This provides a presumption, although not a guarantee, that China and Russia should be included, and special measures could be adopted to address any security concerns.

The law would also "allow the Governors of Guam and the CNMI to request DHS to create additional Guam or CNMI-only nonimmigrant visa categories if the ones provided for do not meet other circumstances."

The intent of Congress is extremely important in interpreting the obligations of federal executive branch in implementing the new law. If they ignore this intent, it could provide a basis for a lawsuit.

Now that Congress has explained exactly what it intended, we no longer need others to tell us what Congress intended. Unless you believe that these local "experts" know more about what Congress intended than Congress itself. There is no guarantee that this will all work out as intended. There is, however, plenty of good stuff to work with if everyone pulls together to make sure that this is done right. Let's all hope and pray that it will be done right, and work together to make that happen!

67 comments:

Ron Hodges said...

Congrats to everyone and welcome to America!

mandaragat said...

now what?

livin' in america said...

now start singing like james brown

Anonymous said...

Bye bye Filipinos, Chinese and Russians. The Filipinos that are praying for this will have to leave to the PI within one year.

LOL!

Done deal said...

Anonymous:

It's way too late to try to scare people with the lies you are telling yourself to salve your wounded ego.

Seek counseling, my friend.

HBM said...

Anonymous: Apparently, you can't read. Why should we take the time to write these posts if you won't even take the time to read them?

Weird Elle said...

Leaders of various guest worker groups have to be careful what they tell their members who are now more anxious than ever.

Rick Jones said...

Seems to me the fact is that nobody knows exactly what's going to happen now.

While Ron welcomes everyone to
America, I hope nobody missed the part where part of the reason for the bill is to "phase out" contract workers. It may not happen right away, or even in the next 10 years, but I've never thought this bill was something that should be cause for celebration among guest workers.

I've hired people under H1B visas back in the US, and it was a mighty hassle. Only the highly skilled qualify (or at least they did 6 or 7 years ago), and just being good at your jobs wasn't good enough to qualify. You usually had to have a college degree or other technical training, and the burden on the employer is to show that an equivalent employee is not available in the US.

Might be more accurate, Ron, to wish them well on their trip home.

Attorney Aficionado said...

HBM [original post] said...

“Now that Congress has explained exactly what it intended, we no longer need others to tell us what Congress intended. Unless you believe that these local "experts" know more about what Congress intended than Congress itself. There is no guarantee that this will all work out as intended. There is, however, plenty of good stuff to work with if everyone pulls together to make sure that this is done right. Let's all hope and pray that it will be done right, and work together to make that happen!” (Emphasis added.)

Are you kidding, HBM?! If everything were crystal clear, there would be no need for lawyers.

I'm sure the Ombudsperson and the Buffalo Boys at Interior, the DHS Legal Beagles, the Fitial Federalization Fighters on Capital Hill, Dekada Shyster and the other social advocates, and many more draftsmen are all working overtime trying to figure out the best terms to put in the regulations to effectuate (what they consider to be) the "will of Congress."

The new law is not a paragon of clarity.

Biba Abogadot!

HBM said...

My point, Attorney Aficionado, is that some local "experts" have, with great certitude, been asserting things about the "intent" of the law that are clearly inconsistent with Congress's expression of its own intent. Yes, the statute leaves plenty of flexibility to craft policy consistent with Congress's intent; it was designed that way. There will certainly be plenty of opportunity for all of those attorneys and more to weigh in, and hopefully the interests of the all of the constituencies of the CNMI will be represented in the process. Rick Jones, I would note that phasing out guest workers means phasing out the special program only, not the other means of getting aliens into the country. And H-1Bs will not be the only visas available. H-2Bs will also be uncapped, all other visas will also be available, and there is even the opportunity to create new special categories.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all who have helped this to reality!
Kudos to Wendy Doromal! And to all guest workers who supported her cause!
Thank you everyone!

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed at the people who insist upon telling Congress what its intent is, even when Congress is saying that its intent is completely different. How arrogant is that?

Judiciary Aficionado said...

Judges do it all the time.

Anonymous said...

True dat.

pirate said...

Please give me an advice on how can I continue my business which is run by exploited foreign workers.

Exploitation Aficionado said...

Hire the “immediate relatives” of “controlling” U.S. citizen spouses.

Or hire any available U.S. citizen on a part-time basis with no benefits. Such jobs will enable people to pay CUC bills.

cactus said...

Be very skeptical of statements of legislative intent. At best, they are unenforceable window dressing. At worst, they are deliberately misleading as to the actual intent and/or effect of the law in which they appear.

For example, a recent law provides, in its statement of intent, that its purpose is "to provide fair employment conditions for foreign nationals," "to regulate labor practices in order to protect against abuses," and to establish a system that "should have clear rules, be easy to understand, provide for lack of facility with the English language [and] protect basic rights."

Sounds good, doesn't it? But the law in which it appears is the much reviled CNMI Public Law 15-108.

I don't think I am being too cynical to say that, in federal legislation as well as local, the "intent" is not always really the intent.

Legal Research Aspirant said...

Usually "legislative intent," such as contained in Committee Reports, only comes into play when the language of a statute is ambiguous.

Admittedly, the new law does have its share of ambiguity and even intentionally incomplete provisions.

But as far as providing the basis for a lawsuit that the regs fail to follow congressional intent, that would be a social activist's (or local government's) pipe dream.

Courts give great deference to agency regulations interpreting congressional laws.

Opinions of blog pundits notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

this is america now? so this is now a land of dreams? probably. cause there's a lot of dreamers here. but it's time to wake up and face realities.
so during fitial time, something good happened. this maybe the one he is saying "better times". he may have anticipated that federalization would happen during his term.
bye bye filipinos? for some yes. for some not. that's one of the reality we have to face. wanna bet?
-malou-

Mandaragat said...

It is now a law.

Let's bury the hatchet and move on.

Mandaragat said...

It is now a law.

Let's bury the hatchet and move on.

Mandaragat said...

It is now a law.

Let's bury the hatchet and move on.

Mandaragat said...

It is now a law.

Let's bury the hatchet and move on.

Anonymous said...

We understood you the first time, Mandaragat! Just kidding, I've had similar computer problems from time to time.

SaiTan rules said...

How many times did several of us tell Governor Fitial federalization is inevitable??? Yet he still insisted on throwing money on ineffective lobbyists. Remember, the greatest most crooked lobbyist, Jack ass Abramoff, is in prison and the CNMI has a horrible reputation in the U.S. Whose fault iss that? In the real world, when a basketball team comes in last place, the coach is fired. In the real world, if a hotel manager is losing money at a record pace with no hope in sight and no solutions to its problems, the general manager is fired. It is too damn bad we cannot do the same. Only problem is, there is no one in line who could really do any better. We are FUBAR fo sho! It is time for me to go rub two sticks together to start a fire so I can cook for my family. We can't afford to run the stove because the new CUC director said we need to "modify" our lifestyle. We agree with Mr. Muna. After dinner, we will head over to the hotels and sneak in and shower. Then we will head home to our hot house and sweat the night away. Fans are now a luxury item. Thanks Mr. Muna for your brilliant advice! You are a genius!

Everyone out there, realize that there is no hope for us until Willie Tan owns Saipan. Just hand it over to him already Uncle Ben! We know you are purposely driving us into the ground so that Article 12 can be eliminated and the Tan Dynasty can legally own SaiTan. Biba SaiTan and BenTan! You are the supreme ruler of Little China! Chinese good, Japanese bad! Hooray to Uncle BenTan! Kung hee corrupt choi bitches!

Anonymous said...

Looks like Saitan Rules may have had a job application turned down at his favorite Tan Holdings business. Such anxiety. Maybe a little photography to sooth your nerves.

Anonymous said...

Funny stuff.. and what is even funnier... for the next few years we won't have to bother with that 20 or 30% local hire. Hooray. No more paychecks for do-nothing quota-makers. Those who thought they could show up on payday and collect a check, just like they did in the governments employ, will have a big surprise very soon.

OR maybe.. just maybe, we'll uncover a core of local folks who will truly compete for the jobs. Work hard. Be the best and make themselves indespensible to the company, proving their worth and value. Welcome to the real world where entitlement mentality is a thing of the past.

spread the word said...

"Welcome to the real world where entitlement mentality is a thing of the past."

pass that message along to the guest workers too

spread the word said...

"Welcome to the real world where entitlement mentality is a thing of the past."

pass that message along to the guest workers too

Anonymous said...

Nice one, spread the word. I don't think I've ever met a group more convinced of their own entitlements than the locals of the CNMI. Who'll do all of the real work once the guest slaves are forced to leave?

Politcal Correctness Aficionado said...

Public Law 110-229 will cause many dislocations in the short term.

Both before and after DHS assumes control of immigration on 1 June 2009 (or no later than 28 November 2009), there will be lots of Foreign National Workers going home, as the economic down-sizing of the CNMI continues.

However, advocates such as the Ombudsperson have remained focused on the long-term benefits to the Commonwealth.

The increase in minumum wage and reduction of surplus unskilled labor will indeed result in a diminution of entitlement mentalities, among local 20-30% “job placeholders” and would-be Lawful Permanent Residents alike.

The law will be followed.

USCIS Registration Aficionado said...

All aliens in the CNMI should be prepared to register with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) starting June 1, 2009 (or starting as late as November 28, 2009 if the Transition Program is delayed).

Pub. L. 110-229, tit. VII, § 702(a), amending Joint Resolution to approve the Covenant, § 6(e)(3).

This “Registration”, if required by USCIS, will be used both to adjust status where eligible, and for deportations of the surplus unskilled workers in the Commonwealth.

Thanks, Ron!

guest worker vagina aficionado said...

i hope they don't leave!!!

USSR Poon Dem B said...

Me, too!

Anonymous said...

The CNMI: Earning its racist reputation, one comment at a time.

Ron Hodges said...

Here is something for you anonymous doodlers to chew on!!!!

Chamberonomics 51… Thank you, Mr. President

I would like to personally thank the President of the United States of America, George W. Bush, for signing S.2739 into US law. Congratulations everyone! The signing of S.2739 is an enormous win for the decent people of the Northern Marianas Islands.

"“What does this mean”?", has been a common question this week. A room full of lawyers read through the same document, and none can give you a straight, no spin answer to your simple question. I am a layman so all I can tell you is “'Welcome to America”.' I was asked several times this week what’s going to happen, what are our assurances, guarantees, and protections.

JFK said, “"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what can you do for your country”."

The new law intends to bring equality and fair play to our broken labor and immigration system. It also intends to reduce the number of guest workers here over about a ten year period. I believe the US will improve status for workers and eventually many will immigrate to the US mainland or Guam in search of better opportunity for their families than the Northern Marianas Islands can provide. Thank God the garment factories are almost gone from Saipan. Good riddance to their sleazy operations. A hard cold fact is their exodus leaves us with far too many workers than our tiny island can support. This is an economic reality. It is also an economic reality that Saipan can’t prosper using workers that live in tin shacks and remit their salaries to their country of natural origin.

America can be a land of unlimited opportunity, one where immigrants and sons and daughters of immigrants have no boundaries for success and achievement. The point is, you will, and should have a choice of where you live, and where you work. The days of tying an employee to one employer is over and a free market here will be better for all.

HANMI and the chamber may fear unity between guest workers and locals. Eventually, more indigenous islanders will move into the private sector and occupy large numbers of hotel industry jobs alongside CGWs, and their unity will enact change in wages, working conditions, and benefits.

We can expect better representation for CGWs. Workers here have never been adequately represented. Though a few advocates have voiced concerns, their poor representation is the primary reason for the length of this terrible situation of exploitation. Lawyers follow the money and it stands to reason that for many years here, CGWs were not the residents with deep pockets. This will soon change. Guest workers here may need individual legal representation due to years of working in a broken system. If the number of CGWs here is 19,000, and the minimal legal fees are 1,000 per, then that is 19 million bucks. Workers with more protection and higher wages will be more likely to sue over past exploitation as well. I think lawyers here will be on this federalization case for a long time to the benefit of workers.

There is much work unfinished. The improved status recommendation is of vital concern to the NMI. I suspect, the chamber, HANMI, and the Fitial administration are weighing options as you read this. The Governor outlined three options in his state of the commonwealth address, which seemed farcical in our current economy. For the Governor to pay 25,000 dollars per month for a lobbyist while his administration can’t provide power and our poorest children do not have ample supplies of drinking water is abominable and to challenge US in court would be worse. They will try to have input promulgating the regulations here, which would also be a disaster. They may even try to put one of their “yes” men or women as the Washington Rep. The DC Rep. may be able to amend the new law or add other restrictions to workers here and continue to block the minimum wage increase. I will only support a DC Rep with no affiliation with the chamber, HANMI, and the Governor.

We have four Congresspersons here that have offered legislation to ease the transition period and I would hope our local Congress would step forward with some progressive actions to help our failing commonwealth.

guest worker vagina aficionado said...

"The CNMI: Earning its racist reputation, one comment at a time."

what part?

Mr. Civility said...

Your moniker.

Pub. L. 110-229 Consequences said...

Next year will be the final Mother's Day under local immigration control before the Public Law 110-229 Transition Program takes effect.

Yesterday may be the last truly happy Mother's Day for those mothers of U.S. citizens who face deportation under Pub. L. 110-229.

“Federalization. You asked for it, you got it.”

Prissy Boy said...

Hey, you cowardly sore loser!

The Ombudsperson would never allow all those Guest Workers to be deported. You can count on that.

He and EO'M are still looking for wives.

Five more years is safe.

thanks mister said...

thanks mr hodges, you always say the nicest thinks and you have always been correct in this federalization matter and you were a favorite teacher. chamberonomics 47 was my favorite

thanks again mr

guest worker vagina aficionado said...

what does my moniker have to do with race? is canadian a race? is american a race? i didn't single out any race. i just like the ladies who work one year at a time. if anything you could call me a 'status-ist'

Mr. Civility said...

Shades of John Bowe, in “Nobodies”.

Exploitation is exploitation, whether by employers or “boyfriends.”

guest worker vagina aficionado said...

how do you know they don't take advantage of me? that still doesn't say anything about me being a racist.

actually, the more i think of it, it may be a fetish. some people like feet, others like leather. i just like girls with defined periods of employment.

is that wrong?

it's not exploitation. maybe i get off on exportation!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Civility-- a Gloria Steinham moment perhaps? Since when is the mutual gratification between a man and a woman considered exploitation of the woman? The Feminists would like you to believe that but notice that most of them are ugly dykes.

Attractive Feminist said...

At least the Ombudsperson would know how to spell “Gloria Steinem,” an undercover Playboy Bunny in 1963.

guest worker vagina aficionado said...

...but aren't they all "undercover" at one time or another?

Anonymous said...

NMI Controversy

Jack Abramoff CNMI scandal

Jack Abramoff and his law firm were paid at least $6.7 million by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) from 1995 to 2001. After Abramoff paid for Tom DeLay and his staffers to go on trips to the CNMI, they crafted policy that extended exemptions from federal immigration, labor, and minimum wage laws to the islands' industries while allowing them to continue manufacturing goods with the "Made in the USA" label. Abramoff also negotiated for a $1.2 million no-bid contract from the Marianas for 'promoting ethics in government' to be awarded to David Lapin, brother of Daniel Lapin. Abramoff also secretly funded a trip for James E. Clyburn (D-SC) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS).

Documentation also indicates that Abramoff's lobbying team helped prepare Rep. Ralph Hall's (R-TX) statements on the house floor in which he attacked the credibility of escaped teenaged sex worker "Katrina," in an attempt to discredit her testimony regarding the state of the sex slave industry on the island.[17] Ms. magazine also explored Abramoff's dealings in the CNMI and the plight of garment workers like Katrina in their spring 2006 article "Paradise Lost: Greed, Sex Slavery, Forced Abortions and Right-Wing Moralists."

Later lobbying efforts involved mailings from a Ralph Reed marketing company to Christian conservative voters and bribery of Roger Stillwell, a Department of the Interior official who in 2006 pleaded guilty to accepting gifts from Abramoff.

"The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) immigration system is antithetical to the principals that are at the core of the US immigration policy. Over time, the CNMI has developed an immigration system dominated by the entry of foreign temporary contract workers. These now outnumber US citizens but have few rights within the CNMI and are subject to serious labor and human rights abuses. In contrast to US immigration policy, which admits immigrants for permanent residence and eventual citizenship, the CNMI admits aliens largely as temporary contract workers who are ineligible to gain either US citizenship or civil and social rights within the commonwealth. Only a few countries and no democratic society have immigration policies similar to the CNMI. The closest equivalent is Kuwait. The end result of the CNMI policy is to have a minority population governing and severely limiting the rights of the majority population who are alien in every sense of the word."

On March 31, 1998,[18] US Senator Daniel Akaka said:

The Commonwealth shares our American flag, but it does not share the American system of immigration. There is something fundamentally wrong with a CNMI immigration system that issues permits to recruiters, who in turn promise well-paying American jobs to foreigners in exchange for a $6,000 recruitment fee. When the workers arrive in Saipan, they find their recruiter has vanished and there are no jobs in sight. Hundreds of these destitute workers roam the streets of Saipan with little or no chance of employment and no hope of returning to their homeland. The State Department has confirmed that the government of China is an active participant in the CNMI immigration system. There is something fundamentally wrong with an immigration system that allows the government of China to prohibit Chinese workers from exercising political or religious freedom while employed in United States. Something is fundamentally wrong with a CNMI immigration system that issues entry permits for 12- and 13-year-old girls from the Philippines and other Asian nations, and allows their employers to use them for live sex shows and prostitution. Finally, something is fundamentally wrong when a Chinese construction worker asks if he can sell one of his kidneys for enough money to return to China and escape the deplorable working conditions in the Commonwealth and the immigration system that brought him there. There are voices in the CNMI telling us that the cases of worker abuse we keep hearing about are isolated examples, that the system is improving, and that worker abuse is a thing of the past. These are the same voices that reap the economic benefits of a system of indentured labor that enslaves thousands of foreign workers -- a system described in a bi-partisan study as "an unsustainable economic, social and political system that is antithetical to most American values." There is overwhelming evidence that abuse in the CNMI occurs on a grand scale and the problems are far from isolated.

In 1991,[19] Levi Strauss was embarrassed by a scandal involving six subsidiary factories run on Saipan by the Tan Holdings Corporation. It was revealed that Chinese laborers in those factories suffered under what the U.S. Department of Labor called "slavelike" conditions. Cited for sub-minimal wages, seven-day work week schedules with twelve-hour shifts, poor living conditions and other indignities (including the alleged removal of passports and the virtual imprisonment of workers), Tan would eventually pay what was then the largest fines in U.S. labor history, distributing more than $9 million in restitution to some 1200 employees.[1][2][3] At the time, Tan factories produced 3% of Levi's jeans with the "Made in the U.S.A." label. Levi Strauss claimed that it had no knowledge of the offenses, severed ties to the Tan family, and instituted labor reforms and inspection practices in its offshore facilities.

In 1999, Sweatshop Watch, Global Exchange, Asian Law Caucus, Unite, and the garment workers themselves filed three separate lawsuits in class-action suits on behalf of roughly 30,000 garment workers in Saipan. The defendants included 27 U.S. retailers and 23 Saipan garment factories. By 2004, they had won a 20 million dollar settlement against all but one of the defendants.[20]

Levi Strauss was the only successful defendant, winning the case against them in 2004.[21]

In 2005–2006, the issue of immigration and labor practices on Saipan was brought up during the American political scandals of Congressman Tom DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who visited the island on numerous occasions. Ms. magazine has followed the issue and published a major expose in their Spring 2006 article "Paradise Lost: Greed, Sex Slavery, Forced Abortion and Right-Wing Moralists".

On February 8, 2007, the United States Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources received testimony about federalizing CNMI labor and immigration.

Representative Donna Christensen (D-V.I.) submitted HR-3079 to federalize the labor and immigration of the CNMI. With local control in jeopardy, big business leaders in Saipan prepared to defend their unique position. Several Saipan residents began to take exception to the status quo of servitude and governmental corruption. Tina Sablan wrote a manifesto for change in the commonwealth and ultimately ran for the NMI House of Representatives successfully, perhaps signaling a new era of change. The case was further highlighted when a local high school teacher, Ron Hodges, challenged the Saipan Chamber of Commerce in an explosively frank series of articles entitled Chamberonomics. The NMI Congress tried to legislate Hodges out of the territory by naming him persona non grata, which increased national and international media attention. Hodges called for a Prayer Vigil and March to coincide with Rep. Christiansen’s Congressional hearing with impressive attendance.

On July 19, 2007,[22] Christensen conducted testimony on Saipan regarding S. 1634 (The Northern Mariana Islands Covenant Implementation Act).[23] Deputy Assistant Secretary of Insular Affairs David B. Cohen testified the following.[23] He said:

Congress has the authority to make immigration and naturalization laws applicable to the CNMI. Through the bill that we are discussing today, Congress is proposing to take this legislative step to bring the immigration system of the CNMI under Federal administration. [...] [S]erious problems continue to plague the CNMI’s administration of its immigration system, and we remain concerned that the CNMI’s rapidly deteriorating fiscal situation may make it even more difficult for the CNMI government to devote the resources necessary to effectively administer its immigration system and to properly investigate and prosecute labor abuse. [...] While we congratulate the CNMI for its recent successful prosecution of a case in which foreign women were pressured into prostitution, human trafficking remains far more prevalent in the CNMI than it is in the rest of the U.S. During the twelve-month period ending on April 30, 2007, 36 female victims of human trafficking were admitted to or otherwise served by Guma’ Esperansa, a women’s shelter operated by a Catholic nonprofit organization. All of these victims were in the sex trade. Secretary Kempthorne personally visited the shelter and met with a number of women from the Philippines who were underage when they were trafficked into the CNMI for the sex industry. [...I]t is clear that local control over CNMI immigration has resulted in a human trafficking problem that is proportionally much greater than the problem in the rest of the U.S. A number of foreign nationals have come to the Federal Ombudsman’s office complaining that they were promised a job in the CNMI after paying a recruiter thousands of dollars to come there, only to find, upon arrival in the CNMI, that there was no job. Secretary Kempthorne met personally with a young lady from China who was the victim of such a scam and who was pressured to become a prostitute; she was able to report her situation and obtain help in the Federal Ombudsman’s office. We believe that steps need to be taken to protect women from such terrible predicaments. We are also concerned about recent attempts to smuggle foreign nationals, in particular Chinese nationals, from the CNMI into Guam by boat. A woman was recently sentenced to five years in prison for attempting to smuggle over 30 Chinese nationals from the CNMI into Guam.

Contract laborers arriving from China are usually required to pay their (Chinese National) recruitment agents fees equal to a year's total salary[24] (roughly $3,500) and occasionally as high as two years' salary,[25] though the contracts are only one-year contracts, renewable at the employer's discretion.

60% of the population of the CNMI is contract workers. These workers cannot vote. They are not represented, and can be deported if they lose their jobs. Meanwhile, the minimum wage remains well below that on the U.S. mainland, and abuses of vulnerable workers are commonplace.[26]

December 7, 2007, local Congressperson elect, Tina Sablan, rallied a historic Unity March across Saipan with extraordinary attendance. The speakers were civil and labor rights activists, doctors, clergy, and concerned residents speaking out for reform including Ed Propste, Ron Hodges, and Wendy Doromal of Orlando, Florida.

For more on the history of the labor and human rights history of Saipan, see www.unheardnomore.blogspot.com the web site of long time NMI rights activist Wendy Doromal.

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This site is the Saipan Middle Roaders' blog--the wannabes, the frustrated ones, and the repressed ones...

There are several thoughts that have been written on paper, online or on the walls of every NMI building's bathrooms.

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