‘Rally for parole in place for all legal alien workers’

Posted on Oct 19 2011
By Haidee V. Eugenio

With barely five weeks to go before Nov. 27 and still without congressional action on improved immigration status for long-term foreign workers in the CNMI, the United Workers Movement-NMI said it is planning to hold a peaceful rally next week to press the federal government to grant parole in place for all “legal alien workers as of Nov. 28, 2009.”

“The parole in place is until such time that Congress takes the initiative to grant improved status,” Rabby Syed, president of UWM-NMI, told Saipan Tribune yesterday.

He said many long-term foreign workers as of Nov. 28, 2009, lost their jobs after that date after years of lawfully working in the CNMI.

If they still don’t have employers after Nov. 27, 2011, they will become out of status.

Syed returned yesterday from a trip to Washington, D.C. to drum up support for their request to grant improved immigration status, specifically green card or pathway to U.S. citizenship, to long-term foreign workers in the CNMI, among other issues.

But he said there was no indication that Congress will act on any immigration status bill concerning legal alien workers in the CNMI by Nov. 27, so UWM-NMI is looking at a request for parole in place as a last resort for foreign workers who might be out of status before any immigration bill is acted on.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not grant parole based upon someone being unemployed.

Syed said he’s not giving up hope that USCIS will grant parole for humanitarian consideration.

He said even Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan’s H.R. 1466, which seeks a CNMI-only resident status for four groups of people, isn’t expected to become law by Nov. 27.

Sablan’s bill does not propose granting improved status to foreign workers as recommended by Interior or as requested by UWM-NMI.

Jun Concillado, vice president of UWM-NMI, also said yesterday they are inviting all foreign workers and other interested members of the community to attend a meeting on Thursday, Oct. 20, at the Minatchom Atdao starting at 6pm.

In that meeting, Syed will share what transpired during his trip to Washington, D.C.

Syed said they will also finalize this Thursday their planned rally set for next week.

“We have a short period of time until Nov. 27 so we have to do this soon,” he added.

Nick Riveral, 57, who has been without a fulltime job since April 2010 but has an umbrella permit, said he is already amenable to the idea of going home if he can’t find a job by Nov. 27.

Riveral came to the CNMI to work as a boutique cutter/sewer on promises that he would earn no less than $600 a month.

“But when I got here, I was only earning $150 to $200 a month. The only time I earned more than that was when I started working in the construction industry,” Riveral said in a phone interview.

Riveral said he’ll probably attend the Thursday meeting to hear from Syed about his trip to Washington, D.C. But he said he is not sure if he’s going to join next week’s rally.

Bonifacio Sagana, president of Dekada Movement, said yesterday that Dekada has other plans and won’t be joining the peaceful rally.

Rene Reyes, president of Marianas Advocates for Humanitarian Affairs Ltd. or Mahal, said they will not join the rally “unless there is solid ground to support it and it will not affect the worsening situation right now.”

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