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. * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * + * +

Mar 30, 2009

Trust Me....

Ahhhh...the ever phrase or line that transcends in a relationship. A word that is just intangible and so hard to hold on to. In this case the island people's trust in the Covenant Party as reported today in the news.

Over a thousand people showed up during the Covenant Party campaign rally recently where Covenant officers and aspiring officials attested that the trust of the people is still with them.

Hmmm. Could this be true?

You tell me.

Mar 27, 2009

Tekk Time: Conficker It Out. April Fool's Virus?

Ok. So we don't know if this virus threat released in the news is true or another Y2K hype but it would be nice if we all back up our data and files now. This goes to the local government offices especially those that have finally migrated to electronic services. Have they? That brings me to wonder about these offices if they have sophisticated firewalls and internet securities in place. Are all desktops in these offices protected? Question is are all soon-to-be furloughed employees aware of such technology?

Anyway, it's always better be safe than sorry right? You wouldn't want to lose all important files, labor files, cases, reports et al....

(photo courtesy of ecliptic)

Mar 24, 2009

Furlough, Is It Me You're Looking For?

Yes. I am indeed singing the title of this post to a Lionel Richie original.

It is sad to learn, as if we didn't see it coming, that the local government will have to resort to a furlough processes due to a reduced budget for this year. Has it run out of other means and ways to keep its personnel? Perhaps this could be beneficial to reduce some redundancy in the local government offices, if there's any. However, to keep the community "stimulated" we need spenders right?

Austerity Fridays doesn't work anymore? What can the government do to live by the budget this year?

You tell me....

Story about the furlough is here.

Mar 20, 2009

Lil' Hammerhead Hammered....

So the site, as the blogger claims is shutting down. That's another one biting the dust. Business is that bad I guess. :-)

The best blog on Saipan so far calling it quits? What gives Lil? I'm sure other bloggers will feast on this news. However, the website's boldness is truly non-pareil.

Hence, we give this tribute to you.

Mar 18, 2009

Quitting You...

Read about this news on Radio Australia about "CNMI Governor to quit politics if he loses November election"

Ok. So if he lost this forthcoming election but didn't quit politics, where do you think he'll go? Does this mean he is conceding to defeat that early? This report, one can blindfoldedly guess was written by a reporter here on Saipan--throwing stories to the land downunder. The story is short though. Again, I'm guessing the reporter curtly asked the governor and got a brief remark from him. Read on...
Radio Australia--The Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Governor Benigno R. Fitial says he will retire from politics if he loses the election in November.
Pacnews reports the 63-year-old governor has no plans of seeking another office should he and his running mate Finance Secretary Eloy Inos fail to win.
Mr Inos, the chairman of the ruling Covenant Party, says he agreed to join Mr Fitial because he’s not afraid to make unpopular decisions for the benefit of the public.
Among these unpopular policies are the austerity holidays, which imposed pay cuts on some government employees, renting generators from the UK, and suing the US federal government over the federalisation law.

Mar 14, 2009

IR's Plea....

I came across this article online about the CNMI IR's pleading to the federal government "not to extend" federalization to the island. Here's the excerpt of that report:
[If possible, I wish the federalization won't be extended; I have loved Saipan so much that if I return to the Philippines I would have to live a different life that's why I urge you to help us.]

Rene Reyes, president of the Coalition of United Workers NMI, said most of the over 1,500 letters they received as of Sunday were written by Filipinos or their relatives.

Reyes, 42, and who has been on Saipan for almost 21 years, said they didn’t expect to receive many letters.

“We received a very positive response from the community. We never thought we’ll receive this many letters in one day," Reyes told GMANews.TV.

Pedro S. Alonzo, 53, went to Saipan on Feb. 16, 1989 as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW).

“The whole 20 years I work, I have contributed already so I am asking don’t extend (the federalization for) 180 days because my permit is expiring on June 2 of this year and I still want to continue working on Saipan because I love this place already and I like to continue supporting my children in the Philippines," he said in his handwritten letter.
These people may once hoped for federalization due to the "grandfathering" possibility yet now....

Mar 12, 2009

Facts and Friction...

Ok. Now that it's out there, what's next for the contract workers? IR's? Shall we concede to previous statements here from a regular commenter about "Federalization: You want it. You got it!"

The entire contract workers community is now bracing themselves with fidgeting hands, frail and perspiring in anxieties. On one side, this community is in regret why the federalization was handed down. On the other side, still hopeful for a better immigration status for them.

In this scenario, we are now looking at divided groups and one can only wonder what's going to happen next.

You tell me....

"Facts and Finction About Federalization"

Facts and fiction about federalization


Saipan Tribune asked Marie Thérèse Sebrechts, the regional media manager for the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and Michael Aytes, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services acting deputy director, to separate fact from fiction relating to the federalization of CNMI immigration:

Question: Many nonresident workers are hoping for an “organic” type of federalization this June, similar to what happened in Guam. Is this possible?

Sebrechts: When you talk about organic type of federalization of immigration and whether it's going to be like Guam, it's not. What happened here at the time of the Covenant when people got U.S. citizenship was the type of organic change. This time it's different. It's not the same thing at all as what happened in Guam. We already did that “organic” in the CNMI in 1986 when we allowed people who were born here to become U.S. citizens. We already did that and it's ongoing and hasn't changed.

Q: Foreign parents of U.S. citizen kids are convinced that they would be allowed to stay on island even if they don't have jobs.

Sebrechts: There are no specific provisions in the Immigration and Nationality Act and in the CNRA that grant alien parents of U.S. citizen children permission to remain in the United States solely because they have U.S. citizen children. Remember that minors cannot petition for their parents. For those non-U.S. citizen parents who are here because they are working, we have a transitional worker program for them. But there is one thing to remember: If someone is in a position where they can apply for status, they should do it, if they are eligible.

Q: Would foreign parents with U.S. citizen children be given humanitarian considerations and granted a status to remain here?

Aytes: We'll be looking at that on a case-by-case basis. We can't grant them permanent residence. U.S. Immigration law doesn't provide for that but we'll be looking at the age of their children, their circumstances, and [determine] the right answer for each person.

Q: How will federalization affect foreign students? There is a prevalent belief among foreign students that they will also benefit from federalization. Is this correct?

Sebrechts: No. All CNMI immigration categories will be recognized during the transition period for the validity of their current status. Eventually, as with all categories, students will fall under the INA and will apply for student visas to study in the United States. The first step will be for schools to get certified to enroll foreign students. This program is administered by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. For cultural exchange students, we will have a visa for cultural exchange trips.

Q: Immediate relatives, IRs, believe that they will be granted a better immigration status come June 1, considering that they are either married or related to a U.S. citizen, a permanent resident, or a resident of Freely Associated States. Is this correct?

Sebrechts: No. This covers too many different situations. If someone is already eligible for U.S. immigration status due to marriage with a U.S. citizen, they can already begin the application process so that they have their status once the federalization of immigration begins. That will be the same option available to them once the transition period begins.
There seems to be misconception that people think that whenever transition begins, everybody will lose their status and that's not true. People will maintain the status that they have as they transition into a U.S. citizen status.

Q: A group of people has been asking for the waiver of green card fees for immediate relatives of U.S. and Freely Associated States citizens. Will you grant their request?

Aytes: We are a fee-based agency. .There are certain types of applications where we will allow the fee waived. The customer can come in, based on their circumstances, and ask that we waive the fee. We will know the facts and decide whether or not to waive the fee. As an agency, we probably don't collect the fees or waive the fees for about 20 percent of our [services]. Where we can, we try to be as flexible and understanding as we can. Decision will be made on a case-by-case basis, not based on a certain class or group of people.

Q: Do you have separate status for IRs?

Sebrechts: No. We won't have IRs as a separate status. Immediate relatives in the United States are petitioned only by immigrants.

Q: Will those foreign workers who leave the CNMI before June 1 be allowed to come in using their CNMI entry/work permit?

Aytes: U.S. law is a little different from the CNMI process. A person needs a visa to come to the CNMI after the transition date, even if they have a status here. Even if we give them status, after the transition date and they travel, they are going to need the appropriate visa to come back.

Q: Many people think they will be trapped here because of that. But should they feel trapped here?

Aytes: No. They won't be trapped here. There are processes for them to file application for us to be able to give them permission to go back and forth. Getting a visa abroad is not an unusual process. It's the same process we use in the mainland.

Q: Would you allow foreign workers who exit the CNMI before the transition period for emergency reasons to come back using a CNMI entry permit, because applying and granted US visa takes weeks?

Aytes: We'll look at emergencies. But the best thing folks can do is pay attention and plan so that if they re going to have to travel or think they may need to travel, their employer, for example, can start the petition process. .I would think employers should have a fair sense of their workers, which folks they are going to help through this process.

Q: How about the case of IRs who have a medical emergency? Can they leave and come back after their treatment?

Sebrechts: They could come to us and discuss the situation and we can maybe parole them. We will have categories that we can do temporarily for emergency cases.

Q: What are the chances of federalization being delayed by 180 more days, as requested by the local government and some businesses?

Sebrechts: USCIS is operating with the current plan for a June 1, 2009 initiation of the transition period. The Secretary of DHS is considering the option of a delay and we expect a final decision within the coming weeks.

Q: Would long-term foreign workers in the CNMI be granted “green cards” once the transition to federal immigration system begins?

Aytes: No, that's not true. We're applying U.S. immigration law. We can't craft new programs to give benefits to folks here under the old CNMI law. We will help them transition but they are not going to be able to get [permanent residence].Temporary workers will not get permanent residence simply because they worked here for a period of years.

Sebrechts: There is no automatic path [to green cards or U.S. citizenship]. Individuals with current valid CNMI worker status may be eligible for transitional worker status or regular worker categories under the INA.

Q: Workers who have lost their jobs have either gone underground or are pursuing other means to stay on the island at least until June 1 in the belief that federalization may provide them an avenue to continue staying in the CNMI or provide them a better immigration status. Is this correct?

Sebrechts: This is too general to answer. Individuals who have CNMI worker status will have an opportunity for “transitional worker” status. Individuals who are uncertain are invited to make an appointment with the USCIS Application Support Center to ask about their status.

However, there's no blanket thing that would make everybody eligible. Going underground is not a smart thing to do because as time goes on, people will start verifying workers under the U.S. immigration law and it would be harder to get a job.

Q: Most foreign workers, and even residents believe that the CNMI will not survive the sudden out-migration of workers that could result from federalization (due to the phase-out requirement of the law). They believe the federal government will not allow that to happen and so holds out hope that, despite prior statements, DHS and Interior will still find a way to accommodate the CNMI's alien workforce so it could continue having a working economy. Is this correct?

Sebrechts:The transition period has been designed specifically to allow the transition of legal workers and residents from valid CNMI status to U.S. Immigration status. As a result, during up to two years, valid CNMI status will be recognized, allowing employers time to file petitions for change of status to either transitional categories or other employment-based categories under the INA.

Q: Who will apply and pay for the transitional worker's visa?

Sebrechts: The employers.

Q: How much would it cost employers to petition their workers to have U.S. work visas and would you grant special rate to CNMI employers?

Aytes: I don't remember the exact fees. Our fees are not as cheap as folks would like them to be, especially employer petitions because of what the employers are asking to be able to hire someone who is not a native of the area instead of an American worker.

Mar 1, 2009


Counterfeit dollar bills?

Finally an answer to an old issue. I remember this problem was raised to us two years ago and even made it to the news. Now, three have been arrested for the said modus operandi.

The police discovered about this when the culprits from here squealed when (according to news reports) they had a fight in their very own compound. I wonder how could they admit to the crime. Did the police actually suspect them a long time ago or did they just come across the issue by luck? Also they found out that the suspects are behind the burglary on Saipan? That is just sad. Can we ask them if our stolen macbooks are still there? Dream on right?

This counterfeit actually victimized some tourists way, way back according to restaurant staff members.

For more info about this, click here.

Translate: saipanmiddleroad.blogspot.com


About this site

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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