Florida-based human rights activist Wendy Doromal and United Workers Movement-NMI president Rabby Syed stressed in Washington, D.C. Tuesday the urgent need for the Obama administration to grant parole-in-place to some 16,000 legal foreign workers in the CNMI until Congress acts on an Interior Department recommendation to grant them improved immigration status.
Syed and Doromal, a former Rota teacher, met with Interior assistant secretary for insular areas Tony Babauta on Tuesday in the nation’s capital where they also discussed the need for legislation to address permanent residency status for all legal, long-term foreign resident workers.
The United Workers Movement-NMI has long been asking for “green card” or a pathway to U.S. citizenship for long-term foreign workers in the CNMI.
Doromal said that the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus would be meeting with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Wednesday “and these issues would be raised.”
“We hope that she will hear the pleas of the foreign workers and their families,” Doromal said.
In a statement she posted on her blog, unheardnomore.blogspot.com, Doromal said she’s hopeful that their message will be met with some positive action to introduce legislation to grant “all” legal, long-term foreign contract workers permanent residency.
“At the very least, we must get parole-in-place secured for all legal, long-term foreign resident workers until such time as Congress gets together to act properly on the DOI report that was issued in April 2010,” said Doromal, who allowed Saipan Tribune to publish her statements from her Unheard No More blog.
She said the messages from workers that she hand-carried to Washington, D.C. represent a wide range of emotions—“from anguish, fear, and betrayal to hope and acceptance.”
Jun Concillado, vice president of United Workers Movement-NMI, echoed Doromal and Syed’s statements.
“Don’t lose hope,” he said.
Syed, in a statement, urged legal alien workers “to be unified” in asking for “green card, a pathway to U.S. citizenship.”
In June this year, Doromal delivered her and Syed’s letters to Obama, appealing for the President to take administration action “to protect 16,000” legal foreign workers in the CNMI.
“While permanent residency with a pathway to U.S. citizenship is our goal, immediate protection is needed now. I urge you to take administrative action to grant the CNMI’s legal nonresident workers parole-in-place status, employment authorization, and eligibility to apply for employment-based visas,” Doromal told Obama in her letter.
Foreign workers in the CNMI have until Nov. 27 to have their employers apply for a Commonwealth-only worker classification for them.
Without a filed CW petition for them by Nov. 27, foreign workers lose their status and could face deportation.
Acting governor Eloy S. Inos said Tuesday that he is thinking of requesting DHS to extend by at least 60 days the Nov. 27 deadline for “humanitarian” reason.
Press secretary Angel Demapan said Inos and Gov. Benigno R. Fitial—who arrived early Wednesday morning—have yet to discuss such a request.