Tuesday, December 11, 2007

US House passes H.R. 3079

From the Natural Resources Committee:
Rahall: CNMI Bill ‘Puts to Rest’ Degrading Era of Garment Industry Abuses

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today approved comprehensive legislation – shepherded by Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) and Insular Affairs Subcommittee Chairwoman Donna Christensen (D-VI) – to reform the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) immigration system, addressing nearly two decades of mounting concerns about CNMI immigration policy and years of political maneuvering by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

“With enactment of this legislation, the dismal and degrading era of slave labor, forced prostitution, and other horrific worker abuses by employers of the CNMI garment industry will be put to rest,” Rahall said. “We should all loathe that such a system was allowed to flourish, and that a corrupt lobbyist was able to stand in the way of reforms needed to secure for these workers the basic human rights we all deserve.”

The abuse of foreign guest workers by their employers had been documented over the years in stories by national media, reports by human rights organizations, complaints from foreign governments, and by the Committee’s former Chairman, George Miller (D-CA). Under the Republican-controlled Congress, efforts to reform the CNMI’s local immigration system halted when disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff used his influence to prevent the legislation from advancing in the House.

The Northern Mariana Islands Immigration, Security and Labor Act (ISLA) (H.R. 3079), introduced by Christensen and sponsored by Rahall, would extend U.S. immigration laws to the CNMI and establish a federally administered guest worker program on the island. The legislation responds to a number of outstanding issues raised by the Congress, the people of the CNMI, and successive administrations beginning with President Reagan.

Further, immigration concerns are central to our nation’s domestic security. The measure will help to tighten our borders against smugglers and terrorists who seek to gain access to the mainland through the territories.

Christensen said, “It is no secret that over the last 20 years, the CNMI came under great criticism for its immigration policies which left the territory with a nationwide, if not also an international, reputation – making this legislation necessary on several fronts. H.R. 3079 would provide a stable immigration policy to rebuild the CNMI economy and give the CNMI representation in Congress.”

The legislation would also authorize a non-voting Delegate to represent the CNMI in the U.S. House of Representatives. Similar legislation has passed the Natural Resources Committee with broad bipartisan support more than once in previous Congresses.
I still haven't found the final vote, but I'm sure that information will be online soon. Most likely it will be found here. It will be interesting to know who voted for and against this.

If this actually goes through, get ready, because we're going to have another election in 11 months! This is going to be exciting, this means that every single year in the Marianas will be an election year.

Furthermore, I think everybody and their mother is going to run for the new CNMI delegate job created by this bill, especially when they find out that it pays $165,200 per year plus benefits.

******

I had another story published in the Saipan Tribune on Wednesday. This one is about FMI's continued cleanups on Saipan.

43 comments:

James said...

Angelo:

It passed by voice vote, so you can consider it passed by unanimous consent of the body.

Votewise '07 said...

The bill passed the House by voice vote -- no roll call. That means no member of the House requested a roll call. In short, it passed with bipartisan support with no member of the House having serious enough objections to demand the ayes and nays be recorded.

O. Calimbas said...

Any word on what the discussion will be on the Hill when the senate version goes head-to-head with the house version?

And could that debate be happening as early as June (as I recall what Jim Benedetto was speculating).

Bruce A. Bateman said...

So Pete A's most fervent desire has come halfway. He must be ecstatic about now. One mor hurdle and he is in ho heaven...for a while.

bigsoxfan said...

I used to live close to DC. The DC delegate has no direct voice and during the ten years I lived in the neighborhood, passed no bills of value. Of course, she (Eleanor Norton Holmes, the DC delegate) has no real power. She is just a voice for the residents as the cnmi rep will be. Her constituents have zero pull on national issues and are seen as a drag on local spending. Can anyone see a rep from the islands having any more power?

I don't see the house delegate, as much of a deal. The Dems want this, the republicans want that and the powers which be; seem to be willing to wait for a study to be concluded several years down the road, before making a definite decision on the long term contract workers, this bill is a lot to do about nothing.

Seems like there will be lots to talk about for quite some time. Such crap. Someone is being thrown a bone on this deal at the rate of 165K USD/yr . Give Pete, a well done as a your rep, unfortunately he's feathering his own nest. He's either going to be the rep or gov. Same wage whichever way the wind blows. He probably will owe Ben T. a thank you for dissociating his policies from the current admin. And in the meantime the PSS gets less.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Back to the bill, I have a feeling that this passed 50% because of the issue of "homeland security," which is a fetish for many politicians in the Mainland, 40% because they want to show how corrupt Republicans are in time for the 2008 election (Vote Democrat!), and 10% for the garment factory abuses in the 1990s (and some other abuses continuing today).

...all of the articles in the US press fail to mention that all the garment factories will be gone within a year.

******

There's a post brewing in my head, but it's not ready.

Basically, I believe that values are being forced upon an island that should not be. This is Micronesia, not America.

Also, we're having a hard time figuring out what to keep and what to toss aside as our economy enters the global economy.

I see these things as problems.

More on this later...maybe.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

...and I just received my sample primary ballot.

Who should I vote for, Barack or Hilary?

TexasPhil said...

c

TexasPhil said...

RED SOX,

It's always good to have a voice. uCNMI might be a state someday bro. You never know.

Plus you seem to have issues with certain legislation, why not use the delegate to at least get your point across.

Texas Phil

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

CNMI will never be a state. One day we will declare our Independence, but that day will not be soon.

In the meantime, the delegate will be able to lobby for some much needed Federal funds. It would be nice to clean up our dump...hell, maybe we could even clean up some of the WWII dumps.

Votewise '07 said...

Angelo,

Barack, unquestionably.

See my post, Obama's Movement, and these other resources: Obama on technology and net neutrality, and this speech, and Obama'08.

Steve Woodruff

Bryan said...

Wow Angelo you've surprised me with some of these comments. Independence...Really?? I mean I would never say never cuz that's a long time and anything can happen but I don't think it'd happen in our lifetime. No federal money? And would you really be willing to give up your American citizenship?

For good or bad, right or wrong the trend seems to be a move towards more and more Americanization, what with so many of our young people serving in the US military and going to stateside colleges. But you raise an interesting perspective.

I agree that the CNMI needs a delegate to the House of Reps. People seem to scoff at the delegate as being a powerless token position but I believe it depends on the leader who fills those shoes. Look at USVI non-voting rep. Christiansen, she authored the ISLA bill for goodness sake and it sure seems to be causing quite a stir here, you're gonna tell me that's not power?

Oh and the other thing I wanted to ask you about...what values do you feel America is forcing upon Micronesia? That one kinda shocked me a little too, I thought we all had a pretty similar values system.

Jeff said...

Is exploiting the third world a Micronesian value? Huh? Did Bruce take over this blog? Don't let pissy liberals push you to the Right. It's still way more evil over there, not that the left is fair all the time or won't eat their young from time to time.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

The trend world wide is for the big countries to give up their territories, that is what I meant by that. One of these days, when the US's influence starts to wain, they'll start giving up their territories, too. I'm not saying we want Independance now, but I'm pretty sure we'll have it sometime in the future. Want to take any guesses on when the US's influence will start to weaken?

The poor values that are being picked up by the people here that are leading to an unsustainable ecosystem and economy are things like the "need" for big roads, air conditioning, gas guzzling cars, a sedentary lifestyle, a huge centralized government, and SPAM, don't forget SPAM.

That government one is the worst. As a culture we're ignoring the good values espoused by America, such as everyone can make it if they work hard and get an education, and we're trying to recreate America.

For example, why do we need three Supreme Court justices? Because that is how they do it in Florida? Are you kidding me? Florida has 13 million people. Same goes for the governor Legislature.

As for the delegate, we'll see what happens. The takes effect 1 year after the president signs it. I don't know if that means we have to have a special election or if we have to wait for 2010 to elect our first delegate, but I am sure that there will be at least 10 names on that ballot.

That is going to be the highest paid position in the Marianas. People are going to be gunning for it.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

...and gunning for it for all the wrong reasons.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

...and I won't be one of those people who would have to "give up" my US citizenship.

Bryan said...

Ahhh SPAM...how could I have forgotten SPAM, I will apologize on behalf of all Americans for that...lol.

But you're right on about the government. To bad they don't recreate all of the state side gov. ideas, for example my home state of 7 million people only has a part time legislature, go figure.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

The one value that really annoys me is the reliance on the automobile. We built our infrastructure so that the only safe way to get around is in a car. It is dangerous to be on a bike, on foot, or on a scooter.

It would have made more sense to follow the Asian model (pre-SARS) of building our transportation around bicycles and public transport, not individual privately owned cars.

Bryan said...

Too bad we didn't resurrect the Japanese railroad that once circled the whole island...instead of ferrying sugar cane it could be used to carry tourists and locals alike.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Exactly. How awesome would that be? That would have been a signature attraction that would separate us from any other destination within 1000 miles.

"Yeah, Saipan, that's the little island where the people use this small red train to get around."

Bryan said...

Hope SteeleonSaipan's not reading any of this, he'll think we're trying to put him out of buisness, lol.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

He's already going out of business.

Somebody should get into the scooter import business here. I put about $5 per week into my scooter.

Melissa said...

We need at least 2 Supreme Court justices, because there has to be a majority vote for or against. If there was only 1 justice, that person would basically rule over the CNMI single-handedly. If there were only 2, there would be no one to break a tie. Thus, 3, as they say, is the Magic Number.

bradinthesand said...

...and you're not mentioning how cool the scooters are with the ladies...

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Melissa, you are missing my point.

Why do three islands with 15,000 voters even need a Supreme Court?

The government shells out about $1 million each year just to support the salaries of the present and retired justices, not to mention everything else that goes along with having a judiciary. The former Chief Justice takes home about $160K each year on retirement. What's up with that?

The answer of course, is that this is how it is done in America.

Melissa said...

No, I understand your point- you don't think we even need a high court. I just disagree with you. If we didn't have a high court, we would utilize the 9th circuit system, like we did previously. I think it is important to have a local high court, who is present in the Commonwealth- not far away and removed from the people and the issues of the Commonwealth.

I'm not commenting on the salaries of the Justices, only on the fact that I believe we need a local high court. And, to that end, we need at least 3 on the court.

Brady Barrineau said...

I am wondering if any anti-America, anti-Americans on this blog understand the first thing about either the history of the Marianas or the strength and kindness of the United States of America. I for one spent almost half of my life on Saipan, I even lived in Chuuk for a while. I am neither a Democrat, Republican, Liberal or Conservative, I, like Popeye, am what I am. To live in a country where an individual, even an illegal immigrant can burn the US flag, spit on it and denounce the US, and at the same time have their baby for free and be protected by the police really is something. The Chamorro people have been administered by others since the first ship landed here, yes this includes the United States. The Chamorro people are a proud people, and have endured unspeakable atrocities at the hands of the Spanish and Japanese. Your little red train carried sugar cane chopped by enslaved Chamorros and Okinawans. Do you think that the Spanish or Japanese had an equivalent Humanities Council to spend money on preserving the Chamorro culture? The Spaniards and the Japanese beat Chamorros with sticks in school for speaking their own language. Let's say Angelo that the NMI was granted 'Independence' and let's say China was given the rights to the islands, your blog and your ass would belong to the PRC, no doubt. Now, the 'waning' American influence. This argument is common of anti-Americans. Let me put something into perspective for you, the United States of America will remain the worlds only superpower (both Military and Economic) for the foreseeable future. This notion really frustrates liberal Americans, I don't know why but it does. Perhaps a day in a Chinese re-education camp may change your mind, but I doubt it. I know, I know, Gitmo, and Abu Gharib. The United States of America has given so much to the world and yes has taken as well. The United States did not impose their will or culture on the Marianas Angelo. The US liberated these islands from a brutal power, the Japanese Empire of WWII. The Chamorro people were in disarray, demoralized and on the brink of extinction. Through many, many mistakes the US did what it thought best for these islands, they gave them money and food. It is interesting that you seem to speak for all Chamorros about Independence and so forth, but you really just moved here from Florida. Do you speak Chamorro, do you really speak Chamorro? My sister Irene speaks fluent Chamorro, even better than some Chamorros here. Ask my friends who have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan about what it means to be a Chamorro-American, it means sacrifice and duty. Ah, America, the land where Americans have gotten so used to their freedoms that they do not realize that most other countries would whip them in public for speaking their minds. The US is not losing any influence anywhere, if anything it is increasing. Russia is in absolute turmoil, and China tortures Monks to death. Sound fun?

-Brady Barrineau

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Who is being anti-American?

Calling Americans anti-American is anti-American.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Brady,

Look at the number of countries that have joined as members of the UN over the years. It has gone up tremendously. The trend in world politics is for Independent countries to split off from larger ones. That is ultimately what will probably happen in Iraq. What we call Iraq will probably be three or four countries in 50 years. The same thing will probably happen with the United States and her territories.

No one is calling for Independence, but if this trend continues, one day the the Marianas will be independent.

We also have closer cultural ties to Asia and Micronesia. Those relationships should be cultivated. What works in Micronesia and Asia is more likely to work here than following a model based on something that works in Idaho.

That is common sense. I've been saying it for years.

SteeleOnSaipan said...

Wow Angelo, so when do you start building your thatched hut up in the Northern Islands?
This is Micronesia, not America? This is Micronesia and not one of the fifty United States but it is most definitely America, or so the red, white and blue flying at the Civic Center and the Legislature says.
I'll take the other road and say that all Micronesians who are Americans need to start embracing all aspects of being an American, not just the parts that suit them best while discarding or ignoring those that don't.
Great comment Brady.

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

You are missing the point. You both are letting your "patriotism" cloud what I'm trying to say.

Basically, there are places that are 1000-2000 miles away from us and there are places that are 6000-7000 miles away from us.

We have more in common with those places that are closer to us. We should see how they deal with their problems in dealing with ours.

Brady Barrineau said...

WTF.

More in common with whom, Thailand? South Korea? We have more in common with Guam than any other country/territory around us. If you are speaking about other islands in Micronesia like Yap for example, then you are going even further away from your point. These islands Angelo hold no real significance for the US, yet large sums of money are given to them simply for their very survival. Chuuk receives tens of millions per year in aid, the EPA and the USACE were on hand after a major mudslide killed dozens. The CNMI and Guam are very different, they are not the FSM they are PART of the United States. Yes, the CNMI has an option to open dialog to change this, but Angelo who will keep your lights on Pagan, and when a major disaster strikes and the gods in DC don't send FEMA, it's game over. It would seem that people who have completely relied on US aid have become so used to this that it's become a way of life, and it is easy to criticize, of course until the money stops then those who want independence will move back to the Mainland, it's happened before.

-Brady Barrineau

The Saipan Blogger アンジェロ・ビラゴメズ said...

Again, Brady, I'm not calling for Independence. The international trend is for small countries to break away from larger ones, thus creating new countries.

If that trend continues, then there is a good chance that one day the CNMI will be Independent, especially when the US is no longer the strongest country in the world.

As for the other stuff, I'm talking more about development strategies, not political alliances.

By the way, is your name French?

Jeff said...

Actually $9 trillion dollars in the hole, twentysomething in education and health care, a positively disastrous president who turned us into a global pariah, you can only wave the pom poms so much at those facts. Yeah, we're better, more free and more noble than China, but since when is that the measuring stick.

Unless those facts above change there will be waning influence.

saipanboonieman said...

brady is an american name. as in "the Brady bunch". :-P

Brady Barrineau said...

Yes the United States has incurred a very large national debt. The US economy is the largest economy in the world and CAN incur a large debt, kind of like Jeff Turbit getting a loan from BankOh for 650k for a house. Yes there is a mortgage crisis right now in the US. If Angelo is correct and the US loses it's place as the 'strongest nation ever' then friends, the world might slip into the dark ages, because the only other country rumored to even come close would be Communist China. Russia is slipping backward and carries a national debt that equals or surpasses the US, only that point never comes up. China is a dictatorship which crushes demonstrators and enslaves a billion people. The only reason that China's economy is growing is because the western world relies on their dirt cheap labor force, that's it period. As we speak, corporations are now looking elsewhere for affordable labor and away from china. Yes that bubble will burst big time. I love to hear from certain Russians on island living here that the US will go down, what a bunch of monkeys. They have their babies here, they want free medical care, the list goes on. Want to open a bank account in Russia, good luck you might wind up dead in a day. Yes, the US has a black eye right now, but we are so far from going down that the economy continues to grow at a healthy 3% per year. One more thing to the liberals, France and the rest of Eurabia do not want to become Islamic states and are cracking down.

-Brady Barrineau

Jeff said...

All teachers get 650 K mortgages Brady. I'm going to moonlight as Yankee Third Baseman.

Brady, you're way more optimistic than me.

bradinthesand said...

easy, j-rod...

Brady Barrineau said...

America is having some problems right now. Consider this though: When the US stock market sinks, the entire world trembles, a hundred fold. Right now, California is the 10th largest economy in the world, that's right the 10th. California is in fact one of the world's leading economies surpassing most if not all of Europe. Yes like a high schooler who goes from a .4 GPA to a 2.0, China's economy is growing very rapidly. Remember this the PRC owns EVERYTHING in China, land, homes, even people. Angelo states that the US will soon not be the strongest nation. Perhaps our economy will be surpassed, as Japan did in the 90s, but the overall big picture looks very good. I watched the movie Sicko by Michael Moore, funny but probably way off. For example, Canadian doctors agree that socialized medicine does not work and has failed Canada. Doctors have little experience, and if you really want to be cared for, go to the US, it's that simple. The far left paints such a bleak picture of the United States that they do not want any positive things to happen. I liked Clinton. Did you know that Bill Clinton was one of the first Presidents to use the B2 stealth bomber? Clinton waged wars around the world, only we were the 'good guys' right? Leftists call Bush a baffoon, etc, etc. Bill Clinton secretly wanted to invade not only Iraq but Iran as well, then Syria etc, changing the face of the Middle East and creating a world where people aren't stoned to death for wearing lipstick. European nations have pretty banned Muslims from immigrating, and are now in the process of fighting back against Islamic fundamentalists. Bush may have made mistakes, but the US has made at least one point clear to fanatical Islam, do you really want big titted American women with M16's walking around on your sacred dirt? Then don't fuck with us anymore. Oh, you may live there but it's our oil!

-Brady Barrineau

Ron Hodges said...

I just skimmed the headlines...R we selling thatched huts in the Northern Islands for 650K?

40 or 55 year leases... and will CDA or the retirement fund finance?

I voted for the "guilt laden liberal" and got no support.

Their is a fine line between Patriot and Weatherman...would all please rise and join in the singing of our CNMI national anthem?

Jeff, Randy, and Brady...please give me a call...& we will be formally drinking at the pool tomorrow evening from 4pm until my lovely wife orders me in and anyone is welcome.

5 bedroom 3
4000 sq meters beach property 450k
8 units commercial building 375K

Call A1 Real Estate at 233-1144

Jeff said...

Brady, you must start your own blog.

montericoverde said...

You can call it The Bent Frenchman

Rick Jones said...

Brady,

It's naive to think that any of these wars are being done to liberate anyone. The United States does not enter into a major war unless it's financial interests are at stake.

If that were true, we would have pulled out of Iraq as soon as we knocked out Saddam Hussein, "Here you go, we took out the bad guy, go ahead and have a nice country". Instead, the first thing we did was secure the oil fields, and have to leave our troops there to make sure that said oil fields aren't fucked with by whichever group or groups wants to get into power. All the rest of this "restoring order" shit is just window dressing.

Have to make sure that Exxon, BP, Haliburton, and the rest of the boys are happy, you know?