Not including undocumented aliens in the CNMI in the comprehensive immigration bill currently pending in the U.S. House of Representatives would be an injustice, according to U.S. Pinoys for Good Governance national chair Lioda Nicolas Lewis.
“The United States of America is a nation of immigrants. That is the beauty and the strength of this country. ‘Et pluribus unum’ or ‘Out of many, one’ is the United States motto. The Commonwealth of Northern Marianas Islands is as much a part of the United States as Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Guam.”
Those opposed to giving legal status to undocumented aliens in the Commonwealth are going against the basic tenets that the U.S. was founded on, she said.
“Why should we as a nation not include the undocumented immigrants of the CNMI in this coming immigration reform? That is disloyal to the basic principles of justice and decency that this country is founded on," said Leiws, who is a former general attorney for Immigration and Naturalization Services.
USP4GG legal counsel and spokesperson Ted Laguatan believes that those opposed to legalizing undocumented aliens not only in the CNMI but also in the U.S. do so because of “negative baseless irrational attitudes.”
"Understandably, as in the U.S. mainland, many native-born Americans are against the legalization of undocumented immigrants. They do so because of racism, insecurity, fear of immigrants, ignorance, or just plain selfishness.”
Regrettably, he said, this sector of the American society tends to forget that they too come from immigrants, whether their forefathers just arrived a generation ago or hundreds of years ago in the U.S. or in the CNMI.
“They also forget that it is America’s welcoming humanitarian philosophy toward immigrants that made America unique and the greatest nation on earth with so much diversity and talents from different races, nationalities, and cultures. The CNMI will benefit much with the legalization of undocumented immigrants who will continue to enrich CNMI life with their valuable contributions. Politicians and locals who support their legalization are not only doing the right, humane, moral thing to do but are truly contributing to the future wellbeing of these beautiful islands.”
Laguatan said he understands the quandary Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) finds himself in with regards to the immigration debate.
“Like many politicians in the mainland, Rep. Kilili Sablan is understandably caught in the difficult situation of catering to the lesser sentiments of locals whose votes he might lose in the next elections or show unusual courage and greatness by risking his political career by following the lead of his fellow Democrats in the U.S. Senate and President Obama and some Republicans too, who exhibit the noblest human sentiments by supporting the legalization of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. of which the CNMI is surely a part of.”
Sablan is an independent but caucuses with Democrats in the House, where he is a non-voting delegate.
Meanwhile, USP4GG Marianas Chapter chair Dr. Celia Lamkin said she is in the process of getting in touch with the rest of the legislative counsels and advisers of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security in order to give them details of the group’s petition.
She wants to explain to them the unique situation of the undocumented immigrants and foreign workers in the CNMI.
“The undocumented immigrants should be included in the 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. for legalization and may have pathway to citizenship. The legal foreign workers who have been working on or before May 8, 2008 or five years prior to the signing of this immigration bill into law should be given the opportunity to apply for green card. As I have said before, these groups of people will contribute to the economies of the CNMI and U.S. and they are talented, hardworking, skilled, and professional. Since the CNMI is a U.S. territory, we belong to the U.S. family which is a nation of immigrants and of course a diverse culture.”