Monday night, right before leaving to get some grub with some friends, I punched out a few thoughts that have been rattling around in my large head for a couple of weeks.
I thought I wrote some things that pretty much everyone could agree on. I guess not. Steve Woodruff chimed in to let me know how I was wrong. Even Wendy Doromal added her two cents.
This is not entirely accurate, but I believe that the Immigration debate in the Marianas has been framed as a two sided issue, Chamorro vs Filipino. I understand that there are many more players involved, like the Bangladeshi and Chinese workers, but I have yet to see a single Japanese or Korean person at one of the rallies and I've only seen a sprinkling of white faces. I think I've been the only Chamorro person to attend more than one of the rallies...except for the police, of course.
I think it is important to point out that this is not being framed as a Business vs Worker issue. It is an issue of Original Inhabitants vs New Arrivals.
It is my opinion that improving working conditions for all workers would improve our economy and improve life in the Marianas. I'm not sure if the activists see it that way. From what I hear and read in the newspaper, what they want are improvements for long term nonresident workers. Very little mention of new nonresident workers. Almost no mention of local workers.
In my post two days ago I was trying to point out there are some things in this debate that both sides could agree on. I thought it was generally accepted that Boni Sagana had gone around to the Filipino community and promised them that joining his group would help them get a green card. His legal counsel disagrees, saying it was "to create a fund to finance costs of campaigning for future status."
That's not the point. The point is that he created this group when there was a Republican President, Republican Senate, and a Republican House with Tom Delay, Richard Pombo, and John Doolittle in key positions. There was no hope of improved status with those guys in power. None. Zero. Nada.
I was pointing out that it was wrong of him to collect thousands of dollars for what was then a hopeless cause. Not difficult. Not hard. Hopeless. Impossible. Not gonna happen. I did not insinuate that he used the money to buy a car or pay his CUC bill.
With the Democrats controlling both the House and the Senate now, that hopeless cause has found some hope, just so long as the President doesn't veto the bill.
But the contract worker activists have protested themselves into a corner. Instead of locking arms with local workers and demanding improved working conditions for everybody, they've aligned themselves with people who hammer away at how much "saipan sucks" to discredit this "rogue territory."
That doesn't sit well with people who call this place home.
The activists need to reframe this debate. Instead of Filipino vs Chamorro, the debate needs to be Filipinos and Chamorros vs something else that is really bad and needs to be taken down.
That bad thing has yet to be identified. It could be government. It could be corruption. It could be Brad Ruszala.
Whatever it is, working with, instead of against, the local people is the only solution that is workable. Finding some common ground would be a start, but even that may be difficult to do because both sides are going to have a hard time admitting that they may have been wrong.