Saturday, January 19, 2008

Tribune Publishes My Response To Hodges

Saturday January 19, 2008
Letters to the Editor
Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hodges' distortions are shameful

H.R. 3079, the federalization bill now pending in the U.S. Senate, does indeed deport every single foreign worker from the Commonwealth. That bill is awaiting action by a Senate that doesn't know much about the Commonwealth and, for that reason, may pass the bill. Let's make this clear: EVERY FOREIGN WORKER IN THE COMMONWEALTH WILL BE DEPORTED WITHIN FIVE YEARS OF PASSAGE OF THE FEDERALIZATION BILL. There are no exceptions. It is possible, as Pete A. says, that there will be an extension of another five years. But the Marianas will have no say in that. It is the intent of the federalization bill, and those like Mr. Hodges who support it, to deport every single foreign worker, bar none, from the Marianas.

The new Commonwealth labor law, P.L. 15-108, welcomes foreign workers, as the Commonwealth always has, and improves their working conditions and protections to a standard virtually unmatched anywhere else in the world. Tell me, where in the world do foreign workers get guaranteed medical coverage? Nowhere. And where in the world do foreign workers get bonded protection that their wages will be paid? Nowhere. One could go on and on. Mr. Hodges’ comparison to Hitler is despicable!

And let's look at the treatment of minors. Mr. Hodges is once again not only wrong, but so terribly wrong that one has to conclude his efforts are deliberate propaganda to slander the U.S. citizens who are of Chamorro and Carolinian heritage. What do you suppose Mr. Hodges is doing in the classroom? Maybe we need parent monitors in his classroom to be sure nothing like this unfounded hateful propaganda is going on there.

Here's the deal. Under H.R. 3079, the federalization law, when all foreign workers are deported, all U.S. citizen children will likely go with them unless they have U.S. citizen or permanent relative residents in the U.S. somewhere. Under U.S. law, when a foreign worker is forced to leave, he or she may petition the U.S. immigration officials for what they call “cancellation of removal” but the foreign worker will have to show “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to their U.S. citizen son or daughter. It is very difficult to meet this standard. (See, for example, the decision in In re Ariadna Gonzalez Recinas, et al., Respondent, file A75 696 573 (Los Angeles), decided Sept. 19, 2002, by the Board of Immigration Appeals.) If the foreign worker has any relatives or any resources in their home country, or any capacity to earn a living there, however small, the U.S. will not allow them to stay, no matter what hardship may occur to their U.S. citizen children from the move to the home country.

Under PL 15-108, the Commonwealth labor law, foreign workers will be required to leave the Commonwealth only for 60 days, once every three years, if the foreign worker is an employee of a qualifying employer and for six months, once every three years, if the foreign worker is an employee of a non-qualifying employer. If a foreign worker meets this periodic exit requirement (perhaps during the children's summer school vacation), the foreign worker can remain in the Commonwealth for as long as they are employed.

The new labor law is now in effect. I urge Mr. Hodges to take the time to read it, as he has obviously not done. The regulations under the new law will come into effect on Feb. 1, 2008. Similarly, I urge Mr. Hodges to read the regulations as they apply to the periodic exit. Anyone can see that the Commonwealth law is quite generous, especially compared to U.S. law. Nothing in PL 15-108 deprives any foreign worker of any aspect of belonging in the community. That is certainly more than one can say for “federalization” which has, from the beginning, divided the community, pitted foreign workers against U.S. citizens, and generally aroused negative feelings on both sides. Shame on Mr. Hodges and equal shame on federal officials who told foreign workers that “federalization” would benefit them.

Cinta M. Kaipat
Author of PL 15-108

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