Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nothing Like Waiting to the Last Minute

"Look, the people you are after are the people you depend on: we cook your meals, we haul your trash, we connect your calls, we drive your ambulances, we guard you while you sleep. Do not fuck with us."
Tyler Durden
Fight Club
A segment of the population is celebrating this morning as USCIS just announced they are going to grant parole to foreign residents that meet the criteria for CNMI-only "permanent" residency under Delegate Sablan's HR 1466. This means that approximately 4,000 (or 11,000 if you believe the governor) foreign residents will be able to legally remain in the Commonwealth until December 31, 2012. This will allow time for Sablan to secure passage of HR 1466.

Here is the news release from USCIS:
Parole for Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens and Certain Stateless Individuals

Based on recent developments in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), USCIS will consider, on a case by case basis, a grant of parole until Dec. 31, 2012 to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and certain “stateless” individuals. This will allow immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and stateless individuals to maintain legal status in the CNMI. With the expiration of umbrella permits on Nov. 27, 2011, immediate relatives and certain stateless individuals may not have another option under U.S. immigration law. We will release guidance for applying for this kind of parole soon. We encourage you to continue checking www.uscis.gov/cnmi for updates on the latest guidance.

USCIS has exercised parole authority on a case-by-case basis in the CNMI since 2009 for special situations.

Who can stay in the CNMI after Nov. 27, 2011 and apply for this type of parole?

You may be eligible to stay in the CNMI and apply for parole if you are:

  • An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. An immediate relative is: a legal spouse, unmarried child under 21 years old or parent (regardless of the age of the U.S. citizen child) who is legally present and resides in the CNMI as of Nov. 27, 2011
  • A foreign national born in what is now the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974 and Jan. 9, 1978 (this group of individuals is sometimes referred to as “stateless” because of their unique situation under the Covenant Act establishing eligibility for U.S. citizenship of individuals born in the CNMI); or
  • A child (unmarried under 21 years old) or legal spouse of a foreign national who was born in what is now the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974 and Jan. 9, 1978 (also known as a stateless individual).

Applying for Parole
If you are eligible for this kind of parole, we ask that you DO NOT apply for parole until USCIS announces more specific details on how to apply.

USCIS is providing this initial information in order to address concerns of this group of CNMI residents in light of the pending Nov.27, 2011 expiration of umbrella permits to assist them in making appropriate plans for the future.

Working
If you are eligible for this type of parole, you cannot work or apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) until you are authorized for parole. A grant of parole will provide continuing lawful presence after Nov. 27, 2011 and authorize you to apply for an EAD.

Foreign workers (aliens) working only under an umbrella permit are not authorized to be employed in the CNMI on or after Nov. 28, 2011 except for certain beneficiaries of transitional worker (CW) petitions.
I have been silent on the immigration issue for several months now, partly because I didn't want to stick my foot in my mouth for saying something foolish, but also because the issue is complicated and multifaceted, and I was digesting the issues as developments took place.

I do not live and breathe the CNMI immigration issue the way many other people do. I read the local newspapers each day and read Wendy Doromal's blog. I also catch the posts of my friends on Facebook. From what I can tell, this development is a good one for a limited number of contract workers, and buys time to improve on Delegate Sablan's flawed HR 1466.

As Wendy Doromal has repeatedly pointed out, HR 1466 ignores 3/4 of the long term CNMI foreign workers. This means that people like Edz' mom, Emilia, who has lived and worked in the Commonwealth since 1993, giving the best years of her life to the development of the islands, will be shipped back to a country that for all purposes, is no longer her home. She's paid her taxes and never committed a crime. Under the American system she would have become a citizen over a decade ago, but under the CNMI system she was kept a second class citizen, unable to vote, and in danger of being sent "home" every year when her contract was renewed.

That is shameful and un-American. I think of my Irish family during the late 1800s and early 1900s. What if after spending a lifetime laboring in garment (!) factories, they had been sent "home" to Ireland to grow potatoes. Even considering that is outrageous, but for some reason no one has a problem doing this here.

Deporting the backbone of the local economy is going to have devastating repercussions to the quality of life here, but one cannot expect lifelong government bureaucrats to grasp the importance of having people who know how to create commerce. Throw in a little racism, alright, let's make it a lot of racism, and the mix is toxic.

Even Newt Gingrich is to the left of Sablan and the majority of the indigenous population on this issue. During the last Republican Presidential debate he stated, "If you've been here 25 years, and you got three kids and two grandkids, you've been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don't think we're gonna separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully, and kick you out."

The other problems with Sablan's HR 1466, which can hopefully be ruled unconstitutional before advancing to the Senate, are that the bill creates a non-voting, permanent underclass of foreign-born residents and restricts travel to other US states and territories.  Others have compared this to Jim Crow, the black codes, and apartheid, which sounds really horrible and insulting on the surface, but if you actually look how Jim Crow, the black codes, and apartheid functioned, they are strikingly similar to HR 1466.  Pick your metaphor, but somebody has to call a spade a spade.

It is no secret that immigration has been a major component of America's greatness.  It has worked incredibly well for 235 years.  This new model of immigration makes me uneasy.

Many will rejoice that they will likely be granted second class citizenship in the near future, and I am embarrassed that this is the best America can do for them.  This is not the American dream, and if it spreads to the 50 states could become the American nightmare.

1 comment:

Wendy Doromal said...

Thank you Angelo for speaking on behalf of the 12,000 equally deserving people who were callously left out of HR 1466. While I rejoice for those who have some relief (for now) I mourn for those who were omitted -for every one of the Emilias in the CNMI who deserve to be considered too.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving. Our door is open to you whenever you are in Florida...