Immigration rights activist Wendy Doromal has been collecting letters from foreign workers since her two visits to the CNMI in 2007. She's been showing them to Senators and Representatives in the hopes of quick passage for H.R. 3079.
Well, now the Taotao Tanos are writing their own letters. Here's the text:
Dear Senator:About a year ago I wrote an Open Letter to the US Senate concerning the increase in the minimum wage. If anything, I thought my stance was fair. If not a single Senator read it, I'm at least comforted to know that Diana's mom read it.
I am writing to you as a concerned citizen, regarding H.R. 3079, the Immigration, Security and Labor Act that was passed in the House of Representatives in December 2007 and is being fast-tracked as part of the Omnibus bill. As members of the Senate, I urge that H.R. 3079 be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee to be closely reviewed as a stand-alone bill, paying particular attention to its discriminatory nature of the economic and human rights impacts on the people of the Mariana Islands.
-H.R. 3079 is discriminatory by directly targeting the people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and creating greater economic hardships. H.R. 3079 will further the level of poverty by creating more barriers to the development of a local economy, which relies heavily on tourism and investors of tourism .
-H.R. 3079 infringes upon the sovereignty of the indigenous peoples of the CNMI, whose political status was negotiated upon the termination of the United Nations trusteeship. The political rights were determined to be governed by the solemn Covenant, which granted local control of labor and immigration and also in collaboration with the United States. H.R. 3079 would give control of labor and immigration to the Department of Homeland Security, thus undermining the mutual trust and cooperation that has endured for decades.
-H.R. 3079 may violate the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act. With reports of upwards to 50,000 workers during a 5 to 10 year period that H.R. 3079 may provide to companies seeking a quick means for cheap labor for the intensified military buildup in the CNMI and the neighboring island of Guam, the question remains of the burden on the infrastructure , and the resources that is not accounted for by Congressional Budget Office.
-H.R. 3079 enables abuses of the human rights to self-determination of the Chamorro people of Guam by providing a means to expedite the military buildup that was decided without their consent and participation and against the legal and moral responsibility of the U.S.A, as a signatory of the United Nations Charter, to ensure the full exercise of these human rights.
I urge you to review closely H.R. 3079 as single and separate matter from the Omnibus Bill, and to reconsider the facts put forth before you for the sake of peace and stability in these islands and for the human rights of self-determination to which we all are entitled.
A year later, there is news in the local paper that the Feds may have acted in haste. They are now looking to modify the minimum wage increase. Hmmm, maybe they should have read my letter?
I'd write a second Open Letter to the US Senate, but I don't think it would be worth my time. This thing looks like it is on a fast track, no matter what we do.
A few years back when Puerto Rico was exploring the idea of changing their status, they put it to an island wide vote. The options were to become a state, become independent, or maintain the same status. They voted to maintain the same status. The US respected their choice.
Ambrose Bennett and Zaldy Dandan have both proposed the idea of a non binding referendum to gauge support for the federal takeover. I think that's a great idea.
If 80% of voters actually support federalization, then the governor and all the other leaders can accept it knowing that it is the will of the people. If 5% of the people support it, then we will know that this is indeed a federal takeover, against the will of the CNMI.
What does it take to have a special election?
A while back the Saipan Tribune asked me my opinion of Federalization for one of their Man on the Street articles. I answered :
I think that about sums it up.
People usually say that the only sure things are death and taxes.
The people of the CNMI can add immigration and labor reform to that list.