We don’t wait for condition 1 to prepare for a typhoon and we should follow this same wisdom when it comes to the CWs and their children who are U.S. citizens because we are already in condition 2 figuratively. It will take years to build a complete Affirmative Action Program for U.S. workers in transitioning our workforce. I have written about the CW issue several times offering the advise that we need to expand NMTI to be a “complete Vocational Systemic Education Program” if we are to maximize our efforts in getting our youth the education and experience they need to replace as many CWs as possible. We may never be able to replace all of the CWs but by putting our best efforts forward it will give us a better chance of employing as many locals as possible and it will be a significant factor in the future decision of the U.S. Congress on the CWs in 2029. There is also a growing population of young Filipino-Americans whose parents are subject to being deported for good in 2029. This is not only an “Employee-Employer issue but a real humanitarian issue as well with children facing the lost of their parents so the time to begin preparing for super typhoon CW-termination arrival is now as it is already barreling down upon us with CWs facing deportation.
We have gone to Washington time and time again asking for extensions but we have never offered a complete “systemic plan” to replace as many CWs as possible. The bill to merge NMTI was critical to developing a systemic plan but it was killed. But I do want to thank Kilili for his work to get the CW extension and I know the governor has been overwhelmed with the CW challenge and other CNMI business. But I will be contacting the Governor’s Office to make a compassionate plea for our Government to truly take the Bull-by-the-horns by implementing real reforms and a real comprehensive plan to meet the 2029 workforce goal along with building a humanitarian case for CWs with children in the CNMI to be presented to the U.S. Congress long before 2029—the extension game is over and that’s a fact Jack as we say in the hood!
I also want to give a shout-out to my late friend Mr. Tony Pelegreno who was a man ahead of his time who realized the CNMI must invest much more in vocational education if we are to give our youth other options than moving to the mainland given most jobs are taken by CWs. Our plan should be driven to use as many of our graduating students as possible to replace CWs. I do want to remind the government, PSS, and NMTI that the research I did in Mexico for the U.S. Dept. of Education proved that their public service program researched based and it works as it trains students in high school and college to get experience for grades in all fields or employment and employers get free labor which is a win, win, win scenario for students, employers, education, and the entire country of Mexico. Hopefully I will be able to gain the interest of the governor in a public service program that will cover 90 percent of the professions and skills in the private sector that are being held by CWs because PSS/BOE won’t give me the time of day.
These job fairs are OK but they don’t make a dent in the real challenge to transition an entire workforce.
The business sector has taken up all the front-row seats on this issue even traveling to Washington but we have yet to address the Humanitarian aspect of the CW situation. The businesses are rightfully concerned but just imagine if some of the CW children would have gone to Washington to plead their case of losing their parents it might have been a very different Bill but that strategy was never considered and it’s all spilled milk now as we can’t go back and change it. But we can go forward with the inclusion of the Humanitarian Issue in the future. Being a teacher I truly feel for those students who are now living a life of trepidation with the threat of losing their parents who want their children to stay and take advantage of the better quality of life in America vs the impoverished conditions of the Philippines. We have only been fighting on one front when we should have been fighting on both fronts to transition some workers and to retain others – it’s called a balanced and flanking attack that usually yields success!
I know that I’m not right all the time but I’m very confident that most of the time I am hitting the nail directly on the head figuratively. The public service program is not something our leaders should be trying to ignore because it came from Ambrose, the outsider, but because it is the right thing to do! PSS needs to change its curriculum from being so heavily academic to one of being an academic/vocational education system with the inclusion of NMTI to oversee the vocational aspect. This the kind of genuine reform we need to prepare for super typhoon CW-termination, not job fairs that don’t offer additional education or experience and only a small handful of high school graduates will get these jobs anyway. It should be noted that a large majority of our high school grads don’t even go or intend to go to college so we need to take the appropriate steps to get these students the experience they need while they are in school so when they graduate they will literally be guaranteed a job and even a career. This will also help to stop so many of our youths from dreaming about leaving to get a job on the mainland when they can have a career here in the CNMI.
It’s condition 2 so let’s gets started now as time in not our friend on this issue. We are going to be facing desperate situations in businesses and in families if we don’t start taking some real systemic desperate measures now! We don’t even need to re-invent the wheel figuratively as we have a proven successful working model to transition our workforce. I hope and pray the governor and someone at BOE will listen and that our CWs with U.S. children will be given some form of permanent status. It should also be noted that there are those in our leadership who don’t want the CWs’ youth to stay either for fear of a new voting block of Filipinos, but they need to know it is already too late to worry about that because they are already active in the voting process, just check out social media.
Ambrose M. Bennett