Friday, September 14, 2007

136. Kudos to Pete A for his stance on the CNMI's Federalization and other thoughts.

The governor has called on Pete A. to retract his support for federalization of the CNMI immigration. I say--Pete A.--right on.

My very first blog post was about the minimum wage and federalization. I tackled both issues, which are related, like two sides of the same coin.

Since I wrote that blog post, we've gotten a small minimum wage increase of $.50 per hour, so our workers now earn $3.55. Next year, the U.S. law provides that there will be another $.50 increase here, unless forces against it manage to interrupt the law's application (always a possibility). Meanwhile the U.S. got a bigger minimum wage increase, so the gap between job pay here and in the U.S. continues to widen. I'm not happy with the minimum wage increase--I think it was too small and spread out over too much time. And it was designed to give ammunition to those who will say how raising the wages has caused businesses to fold, hurting the economy, without any appreciable increase in benefits. Well, consumer spending can hardly go up with such a small-scale increase. I think this wage increase was designed to fail, not succeed. As I said, I'm not happy.

Federalization of our immigration was on track, too, but seems to be getting derailed. I am very proud of Pete A. for sticking to his guns about what the people here really want. I WANT FEDERALIZATION NOW.

The CNMI has lost its ability to take care of immigration. We have a huge backlog of cases awaiting hearings or decisions. We're seeing human trafficking-foreign women tricked into accepting jobs where they are locked up except when they're dancing nude and serving ladies drinks. We have aliens murdered in the CNMI and a DPS that is over-taxed and unable to solve the murders.

We need help.

I'm tired of hearing U.S. citizen spouses threaten their alien spouse with divorce and automatic deportation as a means of family control and domination. Our laws don't call for any requirement of people getting married to provide for permanent residence for their spouses.

I'm disgusted that we have an alien here who applied for refugee protection and who is still waiting for a decision more than a year after having a hearing. You know--justice delayed is justice denied.

I find it frustrating that we have difficulty addressing human trafficking because of the problems with the fit between U.S. law and CNMI's immigration role.

We don't need control of immigration to be "self-governing." We elect our leaders. Our congressmen make our local laws. We can participate in a federal system, where the federal government handles issues of national concern like foreign relations and immigration and the local government handles issues of local concern like crime and public services. There's nothing demeaning about such a federal system.

The CNMI doesn't have enough money. Our CUC is in a sorry state. Our public schools are understaffed and under-funded. We don't have enough money for doctors and blood and all that we need for health care. Our police officers are underpaid and overworked. Our roads need fixing. We can't even take care of the stray dog population or copper wire thefts. Why do we want to keep pouring our CNMI dollars into an immigration system that only benefits a few businessmen and exploits other human beings? Why do we want to embrace a system that has forced our U.S. citizen population to head to the mainland in droves so they can get decent jobs rather than compete here against unlimited numbers of aliens willing to take the pittance offered as a salary?

We need federalization of our immigration. We need it now. Actually, we needed it yesterday, last month, last year, last century. But we still need it--NOW.


Jeff said...

People want a cheap maid. They also want immigrants to work hard in the private sector for meager wages to create tax revenues for the make work nonsense jobs in the public sector we have in abound. The candy has been doled out for years and some have quite a sweet tooth. I understand their motivation to keep the system, but it is hard for them, apparently, to give up things that are in their financial interests just because it is immoral and exploitative.

Saipan Writer said...

It's been hard for human beings of every generation throughout the ages on every continent to put the welfare of others ahead of their (our) own economic interests. It's not easy to see the larger picture when you're in the middle of things. There's a natural ethnocentric myopia.

I think issues here have less to do with personal maids and more to do with businesses that are dependent on cheap foreign labor and a low wage. Those two things go hand-in-hand.

Pete A. has claimed the higher moral ground by recognizing this and opting for cooperation with better minimum wage laws and fairer immigration (although the U.S. system is riddled with its own problems and is no panacea).

If we succeed in raising minimum wage as scheduled over the next several years, we'll build a better incentive for a resident work force, and take away some of the attraction of foreign labor.

But we also need to develop industries and businesses than can succeed. Ones that use our eceonomic, political and natural resources in the best fit.

We're still struggling to find those. It's all a process of growth.

lil_hammerhead said...

Don't forget that there are 13 - 17 million illegal immigrants in the mainland who are picking tomatos, and apples and serving as maids and construction workers. You can look at stateside media on any given week and find busts of sweatshops and abuses.

Simple federalization is no solution. In fact, where tourism, the mainstay of our economy is concerned, it could be a huge problem. If Russian and Chinese tourists are forced to get visas to travel here... they won't. It is as simple as that.