An open letter to all foreign workers in the CNMI: Firstly, the purpose of the seven individual in filing the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Northern Marianas is for the court to issue a declaratory judgment in relation to the final regulations. Why?
The stated purpose of the CNRA is to ensure effective border control procedures, to properly address national security and homeland security concerns by extending U.S. immigration law to the CNMI. Foreign workers in the CNMI did not cross the border illegally, therefore all legal and documented foreign workers were processed and approved by CNMI local immigrations laws and were gainfully employed upon entry into U.S. soil. The CNRA intention in phasing out the CNMI’s nonresident contract worker program is to minimize to the greatest extent practicable the potential adverse economic and fiscal effects of that phase-out, to maximize the CNMI’s potential for future economic and business growth, and to assure worker protections from potential abuse and exploitation.
Today, because of the final regulation’s very limited timeframe for its intended implementation date (less than 60 days) and the fees in filing petition, businesses suffer financial burden and capability. Some establishments are closing down due to lack of resources, or employers are streamlining the number of their employees because they cannot afford to pay the fees at one time within the very limited time in filing petitions. These impacts are in violation of the intent of PL 110-229.
The lawsuit that was filed by seven individuals urges the U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands to declare the final rule unconstitutional, that it deprives foreign workers of due process and the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution and other laws. The final rule will damage foreign workers’ likelihood of success and will create irreparable injury like inflating or deflating advertised job vacancy announcements, professional foreign workers being degraded of their true qualifications, profession, abilities and skills just to make sure that the financial capability of the employer is enough to pay for the petition fees. It will also reduce the capability of foreign workers to shoulder their hardship due to mental depression brought on by the final rule.
Secondly, the purpose in filing lawsuit is for the court to grant an injunction relief in relation to the final rule’s implementation. Why?
The seven individuals who filed the lawsuit is requesting the Honorable Judge to grant some kind of relief like extending the implementation of the final rule for one year or up to 18 months to enable foreign workers to find jobs. It seeks to ask the court to suspend the implementation of the final rule so that it will leave the door open even after Nov. 27, 2011, so that foreign workers who can find employers after Nov. 27, 2011, can still file a CW or H visa petition. This is to give foreign workers breathing space and avoid mental anguish and depression due to very limited time of the final date allowed by the final rule, to give a chance to employers who can find a new contract or expand their business even after Nov. 27, 2011, so they can still file petitions for prospective nonresident employees if no U.S. citizens are available for certain positions.
Finally, the final rule calendar date, if implemented, will close its door to CW or H visa applicants after Nov. 27, 2011, and those who will be out of status will start to accumulate days as deportable aliens. While it is true that due process applies prior to deportation, hiring a lawyers to defend you in your deportation cases in court is time-consuming and expensive. Foreign workers must support the petitioner’s lawsuit with facts and prayers if they want to be not out of status because the intention of the lawsuit is to stop or extend the final date of implementation of the final rule. Support the lawsuit or be out of status, which do you prefer? Stand up and support the seven individuals who filed the lawsuit or wait for the final rule’s date of implementation to close the door and seek immigration lawyers to come to the island and defend you from being a deportable alien.
To all foreign workers, this is the time for us to come out in the open and support the lawsuit. We might have differences in belief, status, or approach in dealing with the issue, but our common goal is for us to stay with legal status. The lawsuit covers all foreign workers, especially those without employer for now, and particularly those who have no U.S. citizen children and foreign workers who are within the four groups of people covered by HB 1466. Who knows, if the plaintiff’s extension request is granted, HB-1466 might pass between now and in the next months. This will protect you from being out of status and from leaving the island you call home.
Carlito J. Marquez
Puerto Rico, Saipan