December 12, 2013
Did you see this poll in the Marianas Variety?
December 10, 2013
"Support courage where there is fear, foster agreement where there is conflict and inspire hope where there is despair.” Nelson Mandela
Rain fell on the tens of thousands who gathered in the Soweto stadium to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. Relatives, royalty, world leaders, celebrities, and citizens from over 100 countries gathered together to remember the South African leader.
Mandela's grandchildren's words were poetic and moving:
Mandela's body will lie in state in Pretoria for three days so mourners can pay tribute. He will be buried in his hometown of Qunu.
President Obama gave a stirring euology at Nelson Mandela's memorial.
Transcript of President Obama's remarks:
To Graça Machel and the Mandela family; to President Zuma and members of the government; to heads of state and government, past and present; distinguished guests - it is a singular honor to be with you today, to celebrate a life unlike any other. To the people of South Africa - people of every race and walk of life - the world thanks you for sharing Nelson Mandela with us. His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life, and your freedom, your democracy is his cherished legacy.
It is hard to eulogize any man - to capture in words not just the facts and the dates that make a life, but the essential truth of a person - their private joys and sorrows; the quiet moments and unique qualities that illuminate someone’s soul. How much harder to do so for a giant of history, who moved a nation toward justice, and in the process moved billions around the world.
Born during World War I, far from the corridors of power, a boy raised herding cattle and tutored by elders of his Thembu tribe - Madiba would emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century. Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement - a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed, and the moral necessity of racial justice. He would endure a brutal imprisonment that began in the time of Kennedy and Khrushchev, and reached the final days of the Cold War. Emerging from prison, without force of arms, he would - like Lincoln - hold his country together when it threatened to break apart. Like America’s founding fathers, he would erect a constitutional order to preserve freedom for future generations - a commitment to democracy and rule of law ratified not only by his election, but by his willingness to step down from power.
Given the sweep of his life, and the adoration that he so rightly earned, it is tempting then to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men. But Madiba himself strongly resisted such a lifeless portrait. Instead, he insisted on sharing with us his doubts and fears; his miscalculations along with his victories. “I’m not a saint,” he said, “unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”
It was precisely because he could admit to imperfection - because he could be so full of good humor, even mischief, despite the heavy burdens he carried - that we loved him so. He was not a bust made of marble; he was a man of flesh and blood - a son and husband, a father and a friend. That is why we learned so much from him; that is why we can learn from him still. For nothing he achieved was inevitable. In the arc of his life, we see a man who earned his place in history through struggle and shrewdness; persistence and faith. He tells us what’s possible not just in the pages of dusty history books, but in our own lives as well.
Mandela showed us the power of action; of taking risks on behalf of our ideals. Perhaps Madiba was right that he inherited, “a proud rebelliousness, a stubborn sense of fairness” from his father. Certainly he shared with millions of black and colored South Africans the anger born of, “a thousand slights, a thousand indignities, a thousand unremembered moments…a desire to fight the system that imprisoned my people.”
But like other early giants of the ANC - the Sisulus and Tambos - Madiba disciplined his anger; and channeled his desire to fight into organization, and platforms, and strategies for action, so men and women could stand-up for their dignity. Moreover, he accepted the consequences of his actions, knowing that standing up to powerful interests and injustice carries a price. “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination,” he said at his 1964 trial. “I’ve cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”
Mandela taught us the power of action, but also ideas; the importance of reason and arguments; the need to study not only those you agree with, but those who you don’t. He understood that ideas cannot be contained by prison walls, or extinguished by a sniper’s bullet. He turned his trial into an indictment of apartheid because of his eloquence and passion, but also his training as an advocate. He used decades in prison to sharpen his arguments, but also to spread his thirst for knowledge to others in the movement. And he learned the language and customs of his oppressor so that one day he might better convey to them how their own freedom depended upon his.
Mandela demonstrated that action and ideas are not enough; no matter how right, they must be chiseled into laws and institutions. He was practical, testing his beliefs against the hard surface of circumstance and history. On core principles he was unyielding, which is why he could rebuff offers of conditional release, reminding the Apartheid regime that, “prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” But as he showed in painstaking negotiations to transfer power and draft new laws, he was not afraid to compromise for the sake of a larger goal. And because he was not only a leader of a movement, but a skillful politician, the Constitution that emerged was worthy of this multiracial democracy; true to his vision of laws that protect minority as well as majority rights, and the precious freedoms of every South African.
Finally, Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa- Ubuntu - that describes his greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that can be invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us. We can never know how much of this was innate in him, or how much of was shaped and burnished in a dark, solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small - introducing his jailors as honored guests at his inauguration; taking the pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS - that revealed the depth of his empathy and understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu; he taught millions to find that truth within themselves. It took a man like Madiba to free not just the prisoner, but the jailor as well; to show that you must trust others so that they may trust you; to teach that reconciliation is not a matter of ignoring a cruel past, but a means of confronting it with inclusion, generosity and truth. He changed laws, but also hearts.
For the people of South Africa, for those he inspired around the globe - Madiba’s passing is rightly a time of mourning, and a time to celebrate his heroic life. But I believe it should also prompt in each of us a time for self-reflection. With honesty, regardless of our station or circumstance, we must ask: how well have I applied his lessons in my own life?
It is a question I ask myself - as a man and as a President. We know that like South Africa, the United States had to overcome centuries of racial subjugation. As was true here, it took the sacrifice of countless people - known and unknown - to see the dawn of a new day. Michelle and I are the beneficiaries of that struggle. But in America and South Africa, and countries around the globe, we cannot allow our progress to cloud the fact that our work is not done. The struggles that follow the victory of formal equality and universal franchise may not be as filled with drama and moral clarity as those that came before, but they are no less important. For around the world today, we still see children suffering from hunger, and disease; run-down schools, and few prospects for the future. Around the world today, men and women are still imprisoned for their political beliefs; and are still persecuted for what they look like, or how they worship, or who they love.
We, too, must act on behalf of justice. We, too, must act on behalf of peace. There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality. There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people. And there are too many of us who stand on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard.
The questions we face today - how to promote equality and justice; to uphold freedom and human rights; to end conflict and sectarian war - do not have easy answers. But there were no easy answers in front of that child in Qunu. Nelson Mandela reminds us that it always seems impossible until it is done. South Africa shows us that is true. South Africa shows us we can change. We can choose to live in a world defined not by our differences, but by our common hopes. We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity.
We will never see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. But let me say to the young people of Africa, and young people around the world - you can make his life’s work your own. Over thirty years ago, while still a student, I learned of Mandela and the struggles in this land. It stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities - to others, and to myself - and set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be better. He speaks to what is best inside us. After this great liberator is laid to rest; when we have returned to our cities and villages, and rejoined our daily routines, let us search then for his strength - for his largeness of spirit - somewhere inside ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, or our best laid plans seem beyond our reach - think of Madiba, and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of a cell:
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
What a great soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.
December 5, 2013
South African leader and human rights activist Nelson Mandela passed away today. His death is being mourned by people across the world. His life of sacrifice and his profound commitment to equal rights will forever serve as an example for every person.
South African President Jacob Zuma said, "We've lost our greatest son."
President Obama's remarks:
"At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, 'I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.'
"And Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us — he belongs to the ages.
"Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa — and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings — and countries — can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, 'I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.'
"I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they're guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.
"To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life's work meant long days away from those who loved him the most. And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family.
"To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal, and reconciliation, and resilience that you made real. A free South Africa at peace with itself -- that's an example to the world, and that's Madiba's legacy to the nation he loved.
"We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.
"For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived — a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace."
December 3, 2013
The complaint states that the "CBP policy or practice specifically targets and/or disproportionately effects Chinese females of child-bearing age and is not applied or enforced against other males or females of other ethnicities or nationalities."
For months U.S. Delegate Gregoiro (Kilili) Sablan and CNMI Governor Eloy Inos have protested the fact that Chinese tourists use the CNMI as a destination to give birth so that their babies will be U.S. citizens. The CNMI birth tourist industry has been documented on this site (see links to previous posts below) and by international news outlets for years.
Recently, USA Today covered CNMI's birth tourism issues. From the article:
Eloy Inos, the islands' governor, told the Saipan Tribune that immigration agents had sent home about 20 "birth tourists" in the past three to four months because of "documentation problems."
And last month, a pregnant tourist who had arrived on a charter flight from Shanghai late one evening was sent back home early the next morning. Fenny He, the leader of the tour involved, told the Tribune she advised the woman not to go but "she refused to listen."The article continues to reveal information about the tour companies and others who profit from the industry:
The operator of one Saipan guesthouse told Radio Free Asia that she hosted 50 Chinese mothers last year, charging them $11,000 for accommodations, travel, translation help and some medical care, though most also incurred around $10,000 in other medical bills.
Most of those flights are organized by Century Tours, a company owned by Hong Kong's Tan family, who previously pioneered the islands' garment business and own several Saipan hotels.
Inos and the islands' non-voting congressman in Washington have appealed to the Department of Homeland Security to deny entry to birth tourists. In response, U.S. immigration has been passing the word directly Chinese travel companies to discourage maternity traffic.Some serious questions have been raised. Should U.S. immigration be involved in telling Chinese travel companies that female tourists should not to go to the U.S. if they are pregnant? What authority does this agency have in deciding to block entry to the U.S. on the basis of pregnancy? Isn't the DHS violating the U.S. Constitution by passing the word to Chinese travel companies to discourage maternity traffic? Are U.S. citizens denied entry to foreign countries if they are pregnant? Are U.S. citizen women denied entry to the CNMI if they are pregnant? It sure seems that the U.S. and CNMI Governments are targeting Chinese women in a discriminatory and illegal manner.
Other articles, such as one in Islands Business, state that birth tourism to the CNMI is on the upswing since Chinese and Russian visas waivers were initiated to attract tourists.
A November 12, 2013 news release on Delegate Sablan's website also
directly discusses how the governor and delegate are working with "Asiana Airlines, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the Chinese government to further minimize—if not totally eliminate—the so-called “birth tourism” here."
The press release noted that the CNMI wants Chinese tourists and wants to maintain the Chinese visa waiver system.
But can the CNMI Government have it both ways? Can they have an aggressive and dangerous campaign to block foreign pregnant tourists from visiting the CNMI and roll out the welcome mat for others? That is extremely unlikely.
The CNMI Government has clearly launched an all-out attack on pregnant Chinese female tourists of child bearing age with the apparent blessing and help of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
A September 2013 Saipan Tribune article stated that in recent months twenty pregnant Chinese tourists were denied entry to the CNMI because they had "documentation problems." Really? Is the Chinese visa waiver program not working? How do foreigners board planes if they do not have the correct documentation or papers? Are pregnant Chinese tourists or Chinese tourists who are suspected that they might be pregnant the only ones with "documentation problems"? How many other tourists have had documentation problems –male tourists, elderly tourist, child tourists, tourists from other foreign countries? What specifically were these so-called problems that seem to be isolated to Chinese female tourists?
It is understandable that the CNMI Government does not want to carry the costs of foreign women who give birth in the Commonwealth Health Center (CHC) and then fail to pay their bills. But how many Chinese tourists actually gave birth at the CHC and then failed to pay their bills? Are foreigners the only ones who do not pay their bills at the CHC? How many CNMI residents gave birth at the CHC and then failed to pay their bills? Articles about the CNMI birth tourism reveal that their agents charge the pregnant women tens of thousands to cover hospital expenses. Is this even a real problem?
There are no pregnancy-related questions on the U.S. Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver application. There is no warning to Chinese tourists that they could be detained and/or deported if they are females of child bearing age and suspected of being pregnant. It is in no way acceptable for the CNMI or U.S. Governments to screen foreign tourists who arrive on U.S. soil to determine if they are pregnant and then refuse entry to them or force them to return to China, if they are pregnant or are suspected of being pregnant.
Welcome to America (NOT!)
In October 2013 Yu Min Zhao, a 32-year-old school teacher travelled from China to Saipan for a one-week vacation with her husband. The complaint alleges that U.S. CBP agents harassed her repeatedly, accusing her of being pregnant. She was denied entry to the CNMI even though her husband was allowed to enter.
She was locked up in a detention room for 22 hours and was denied access to her husband and an attorney. During her confinement she was verbally abused and assaulted by U.S. CBP agents. According to the complaint, U.S. CBP agent Dennis Jacobs and another unknown agent told her she "had no rights".
The U.S. constantly attacks China for human rights offenses and then a U.S. agent tells an innocent Chinese woman that she has no rights? Seriously?
Agents continually threatened the woman in an attempt to coerce her to sign a voluntary release form to allow her to return to China despite the fact that she had a valid visa and was allowed to board the plane in China.
Even more horrific is the fact that the U.S. CPB agents subjected her to numerous body searches. After the plaintiff screamed for help agents removed her clothing and took her possessions.
The complaint states:
1. This is a civil rights action brought to redress blatant and rampant racial and gender discrimination perpetrated against a 32 year old Chinese school teacher (plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO) by U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer ("CBP") Dennis Jacobs and seven other as yet unidentified CBP officers (collectively the "CBP defendants") during an immigration inspection at the Saipan International Airport.
2. The CBP defendants violated plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO's constitutional right of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and made applicable to the federal government by the Due Process component of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as well as plaintiff's constitutional right of being free from the use of excessive force under the Fourth Amendment by:
(A) Engaging in unlawful racial and gender profiling by accusing plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO of being pregnant simply because she was Chinese and a female of child bearing age;
(B) Subjecting plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO to special scrutiny, harassment, verbal abuse and physical abuse because defendants believed her to be pregnant merely because she was Chinese and a female of child-bearing age;
(C) Placing plaintiff in solitary detention for 22 hours without providing her any food and limiting her to one cup of water during that time as well as disallowing her any communication to the outside world including her own husband who was anxiously waiting for her outside the Saipan International Airport without knowing why she was being detained or what was going on merely because plaintiff was Chinese and a female of child-bearing age;
(D) Physically harassing, intimidating and abusing the plaintiff by using unnecessary force and overwhelming numbers in deploying 7-8 CBP officers to "gang" hand-cuff plaintiffs hands behind her back while she was in detention despite the fact plaintiff is 5'2 and 120 pounds and did not otherwise post a threat to the security of any CBP officer or resist;
(E) Subjecting plaintiff to arbitrary and repeated body searches during her 22-hour detention as retaliation for her numerous refusals to voluntarily agree to return to China on the next available flight;
(F) Subjecting plaintiff to psychological intimidation by removing her shoes, necklace, watch and other articles of clothing or personal items from her body as retaliation for her terrified screams for help during her 22 hour detention;
(G) Repeatedly denying plaintiff the right to counsel despite the fact she was being held in custody, subject to extended interrogation and placed in handcuffs;
(H) Coercing plaintiff into signing forms that were in English and never translated or explained to her by an interpreter; and
(I) Un-lawfully denying plaintiff admission to the Saipan under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program on account of her race and gender: namely the fact she was Chinese and suspected of being pregnant.As a U.S. citizen I am disgusted and ashamed that a tourist to our country was violated in this most inhumane and sick way by U.S. officials.
If this woman actually was pregnant then not just her, but also her child would have been in grave danger from the assault. The complaint further alleges these disgusting human, civil and constitution rights violations:
43. Defendant CBP Officer JOHN DOE #2 then tried to trick and/or coerce plaintiff into signing an English language document that stated she "voluntarily consented" to returning to China by refusing to explain what the document meant or providing a Chinese translation of the same.
44. Instead, defendant CBP Officer JOHN DOE #2 warned her that she would have a permanent record that would prevent her from returning to the U.S. ever again if she did not sign.
45. Defendant CBP Officer JOHN DOE #2 also threatened to have plaintiff's husband Jian Li arrested and deported if she continued to refuse to sign even though her husband had already been granted admission by CBP for ten days.
46. Additionally, defendant CBP Officer JOHN DOE #2 told plaintiff that her refusal to sign the "voluntary'' consent form was futile anyway because she would be forced to leave either way.
47. Plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO refused to sign the form because she did not know what it said and otherwise could not understand why she was not being allowed entry to Saipan even though her husband travelling with her with exactly the same immigration background and visa history had been granted entry.
48. In an effort to break plaintiffs will, defendants CBP Officers JOHN DOES 1-5 and JANE DOES 1-2 subjected plaintiff to numerous unnecessary body searches throughout her twentytwo hour detention as a form of harassment and intimidation.
49. Out of frustration at her helplessness, plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO began resorting to screaming for help whenever the door to her detention room was opened as she was bewildered, terrified and overwhelmed by what was happening.
50. In retaliation for her screams, defendants CBP Officers JOHN DOES 1-5 and JANE DOES 1-2 came into plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO's detention room and removed articles of clothing from her body as well as personal items as punishment for her perceived "lack of co-operation".
51. At one point, defendants CBP Officers JOHN DOES 1-5 and JANE DOES 1-2 gang tackled plaintiff in her cell and forcibly handcuffed her hands behind her back by shoving her face first against a wall and violently twisting her hands behind her back merely because she refused to get fingerprinted as a form of protest of the abuse she was suffering.
52. Specifically, three CBP Officers stormed into plaintiff's detention cell and rushed at plaintiff while she stood in a passive position with her back near the wall. One CBP Officer spun plaintiff around, kicked apart her legs and slammed plaintiffs face against the wall causing her pain from both the force of the impact and the friction of the wall to her face. A second CBP Officer then pushed plaintiff's shoulders forward so that her face remained press to the wall while another CBP Officer painfully twisted plaintiffs hands behind her back and applied handcuffs.
53. While this was happening, another 3 to 4 CBP Officer stood inside the doorway of plaintiffs detention cell watching in an unnecessary show of force and intimidation.
54. Plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO was then left alone crying in her cell for about an hour with her hands painfully handcuffed behind her back without being given any medical attention or explanation as to why this was happening to her.
55. Eventually, plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO signed the English language document 24 presented to her even though it was never explained or translated into Chinese after approximately 25 twenty-two hours of isolation, harassment, intimidation, threats and abuse.
56. At that juncture, plaintiffs spirit and will had been broken by the fact she had gone more than a day without sleep or food.
57. To date, Plaintiff YU MIN ZHAO still does not know what form she signed said as it was never translated to her in Chinese and she was never given a copy therein.The CNMI wants to maintain a Chinese visa waiver program, but it has a policy that violates the rights of any woman who is suspected of being pregnant. This makes no sense! Is there any other U.S. airport where this kind of disgusting near-torturous policy is enforced?
Every foreign woman considering traveling to the CNMI, needs to be warned of the abusive, inhumane and unconstitutional treatment that is inflicted upon innocent women of child bearing years by U.S. customs officials. I hope that Yu Min Zhao and other victims of this horrific policy are contacting government officials and the press so that potential tourists are warned.
If the facts are found to be true (and there is no reason to suspect that they are not) then every CNMI and U.S. agent and official that was involved should be terminated. The officials involved in this incident should be suspended immediately until a thorough investigation is conducted.
The complaint is beyond horrific. This policy and the practice of intimidating, assaulting, detaining, humiliating, handcuffing, and verbally abusing female tourists could severely strain relations between the United States and China. This case alone could create an international scandal, especially since the incident clearly involves human rights abuses against an innocent Chinese national by U.S. Government officials. This incident could shut down the Guam-CNMI Chinese visa waiver program.
What do Governor Inos and Delegate Sablan have to say about this lawsuit?
Read the lawsuit:
Posts on baby tourism:
Made in the USA: Saipan's Backdoor to United States
Fitial Peddles His Xenophobic BS in Washington DC
Is Governor Fitial Joking?
December 3, 2013
Woodruff was found to be in contempt of court on October 2, 2013 for noncompliance with the order of his disbarment.
The judge noted Woodruff's refusal to accept responsibility for inflicting harm on his former clients. Many of the clients that he harmed were nonresident workers who depended on him to follow through with their cases against former employers. In some instances he took fees and failed to file papers or even show up for hearings causing the clients to lose their cases.
The Saipan Tribune reported:
“The court is very concerned about potential ongoing prejudice and injury to the rights of respondent’s former clients and finds it very disturbing that respondent expresses no remorse or acceptance of any responsibility for the harm he has caused to many and listens to their testimony in his state of indifference,” the judge said.
In addition, Wiseman noted, Woodruff has placed the blame for everything he is encountering with these and other ethical problems and proceedings by challenging the court’s jurisdiction, blaming his clients, the Disciplinary Committee and its chairman, disciplinary counsel Thomas Clifford, Wiseman, the CNMI Supreme Court, the U.S. District Court for the NMI, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Hawaii State Bar Association.Woodruff also must pay the court $14,389.00 in costs of the prosecution of the disbarment case.
On October 15th Judge Wiseman ordered:
Pursuant to this Court’s Order of Disbarment issued on June 7, 2013, Stephen C. Woodruff was ordered to pay the costs of prosecution in this matter to the Court. The total cost of prosecution in this matter has been determined to be in the sum of fourteen thousand three hundred and eighty nine ($14,389.00) dollars. Judgment is hereby entered in the sum of $14,389.00 to be paid by Stephen C. Woodruff to the Superior Court. SO ORDERED this 15th day of October, 2013.I am sure the court is also monitoring whether or not the clients who were harmed by Woodruff are refunded any fees that they paid.
November 20, 2013
It is ironic that the same week that our nation marked 150 years since President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, in the farthest corner of the United States, the CNMI House passed Resolution HR 18-34 promoting racism and division.
The xenophobic resolution calls upon the U.S. Congress to deny legal, long-term nonresidents of the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) any pathway to citizenship based on illogical racist ideals:
The Covenant does not declare Chamorros and Carolinians as elite U.S. citizens who can decide who should and who should not be granted U.S. citizenship. The Covenant does not state that the Chamorros and Carolinians in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are superior or should have more say in the political affairs of the local government than other U.S. residents who live there.
However, Ms. Ogumoro the author of H.R. 18-34, is so egocentric that she considers the 'people of the Northern Mariana Islands' to be the Chamorros and Carolinians. There are 12 other legislators that agree with her. The dirty dozen appear to be the racist majority in the House of Representatives.
What the Covenant actually states: "SECTION 103. The people of the Northern Mariana Islands will have the right of local self-government and will govern themselves with respect to internal affairs in accordance with a Constitution of their own adoption."
The law does not state 'the indigenous' people or 'Chamorros and Carolinian people' it states, 'the people'. In fact, I cannot locate the words 'indigenous', 'Chamorro' and 'Carolinian' anywhere within the body of the Covenant.
Section 503 of the law gives the U.S. Congress the authority to control immigration in the United States. Nowhere in the law does it say that the CNMI Legislature or people have the right to decide who enters or stays in the CNMI. The U.S. Congress does.
The Covenant states: "SECTION 503. The following laws of the United States, presently inapplicable to the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, will not apply to the Northern Mariana Islands except in the manner and to the extent made applicable to them by the Congress by law after termination of the Trusteeship Agreement: " ( a ) except as otherwise provided in Section 506, the immigration and naturalization laws of the United States."
U.S.P.L. 110-229, the Consolidated Natural Resources Act, applied U.S. immigration law to the CNMI. One would think that Ms. Ogomuro and the 12 other lawmakers would understand this law.
The resolution decries the fact that according to the CNMI 2010 census there were 53,883 people in the CNMI with 29% or 15,363 being Chamorro and Carolinian. It states, "As a consequence, the Chamorros and Carolinians of the Northern Mariana Islands will ultimately become powerless and minority voice in their own homeland."
Who decided that the Chamorros and Carolinians would become a minority in the CNMI? Not the U.S. Congress! It was the Chamorro and Carolinian lawmakers with the approval of the 'people' who created a guest worker program and brought in tens of thousands of foreign workers to 'grow the economy'. It was those same people who allowed thousands of foreigners to be cheated and abused on U.S. soil. Thanks to their actions and inactions, the Northern Marianas is synonymous with labor abuse, Jack Abramoff schemes and corruption. Thanks to them they are a "minority in their own homeland."
The resolution states, "Section 2109 of S. 744 and any other legislations that infringed upon the social, economic and political rights of the indigenous Chamorro and Carolinian people who are of Northern Marianas descent be addressed pursuant to Article 1, Section 105 and Section 902 of the Covenant."
Surely, the rights that have been infringed upon have been the rights of the CNMI's nonresidents who have seen their human rights and civil rights denied over and over and over under the watchful eyes of the CNMI Government for decades.
Politicians like Ogumoro and other followers of the disgraced ex-Governor Benigno Fitial welcomed tens of thousands of skilled nonresidents to the CNMI to labor, to build the economy, to live as indentured servants in the undemocratic and un-American society that they created. The haters tolerate nonresidents as long as they can ensure that they remain second-class citizens that can be perpetually dominated. Too many in the CNMI treat the nonresidents as sub-human proletarians who exist in a system that is one step above slavery. This must end.
To deny permanent residency to dedicated and legal nonresidents who have lived and worked in a locality for decades for the reasons stated in Resolution 18-34 is beyond bigoted. The CNMI is still stinging from the tarnished reputation earned by decades of well-documented labor abuses, schemes with felon lobbyists and corruption and theft of greedy local politicians. It is amazing that so many elected CNMI officials signed their names to a document that will bring further disgrace to the CNMI.
Also interesting is the fact that some of the same people who oppose any form of U.S. status for the 12,000 or so legal, long term nonresidents –the de facto citizens of the CNMI– want the flawed U.S. CNMI-Only Nonresident Worker Program to be extended for 5 years.
The dirty dozen may be using their resolution to get votes from some equally bigoted constituents, but historians will record their words for what they truly are. The resolution's words are nothing less than a racist attack on an essential, loyal and dedicated segment of the CNMI society.
Since the resolution passed a renewed debate has stirred in the CNMI. Both Saipan papers have published numerous passionate letters to the editor expressing opposition to the resolution.
Kelvin Rodeo wrote a lengthy letter to the editor calling the resolution racist and pointing out the illogical statements within the resolution. Read the entire letter. It makes excellent points, among them is this one:
“How is the resolution racist?” The whole resolution is very anti-foreigner from the start, with the words “alien workers, their families, and persons of other ethnic origin or race” being used in the introduction to the resolution with the context of wanting to prevent said groups of people from gaining U.S. permanent residency.
This same set of words is used eight times throughout the entire resolution, each time trying to paint these people as villains who are trying to screw up the established order of things or take rights away from the Chamorro and Carolinian people. Those of you who know at least one foreign worker—and I’d imagine that’s just about everyone in our Commonwealth—know that the foreign workers are trying to do no such thing. They do not seek to take away anyone’s rights, they only seek to gain equal footing with the people whose economy and infrastructure they worked hard to help build over the past few decades.
Is it too much to ask to be considered equals and be granted equal status, considering the countless hours that our brothers and sisters have worked toward building our economy and infrastructure over the past few decades? These people have toiled away for the benefit of our Commonwealth for many years, and at times many of them have even been subjected to labor abuses, but they still stuck with us and helped us grow through the years.
However, instead of thanking them for their irreplaceable service to us and our islands, now members of our own House of Representatives have the audacity to adopt a resolution that asks the U.S. House of Representatives to remove the provision in the comprehensive immigration reform bills that would allow our brothers and sisters to become U.S. permanent residents and eventually U.S. citizens like us? Do our elected representatives have no sense of human decency in them? Are these seemingly heartless, ungrateful people really the people we want to be representing us?CNMI resident Shalmaine Pua agreed with Kelvin, and in her own letter she shreds the resolution's claims that the Chamorros and Carolinians are somehow victims. The victims in this story have always been and remain the foreign contract workers who were lured to U.S. soil to pursue the American Dream, but found instead a nightmare. From Ms. Pua's letter:
This whole “Chamorros and Carolinians only” idea needs to end. It’s utterly ridiculous. Your own children are very diverse; you are diverse. The last full Chamorro and Carolinian died long before I was born. Trust me, I actually paid attention in NMI History. Doesn’t the lack of brown eyes and not so black hair give you enough of a hint? And what are you really protecting?
The “foreigners” were lured onto our islands with false hope. They spent their life’s worth with the impression that they have a good job waiting for them when they come to Saipan and they are able to feed their family and provide for them. What they had waiting for them was a trap in slave labor.
Did anyone complain when they were the sole key of one of our past main economies, the garment factories? Which, mind you, they were treated very inhumanely, with the employers treating them as less than humans; all for cheap labor and profits. Did anyone care that that was going on? No. We turned our heads away because their slave labor brought in the money right? They were trapped on Saipan, not allowed to return home because they had a debt to pay and when the U.S. saw what was going on and shut them down, they were stuck here with no way of going back home. And because the garment factories collapsed and the economy started to crumble, everyone decided “let’s blame them for not being able to get a job! They’re stealing all our benefits! We are the sole owners of these lands, and they should go back to where they came from!” It was easier to blame them.Other CNMI residents attacked the resolution. Segundo Castro's letter to the editor said in part:
The United States Congress has neither the time to listen to bigotry nor any racist resolution trying to deprive other ethnicities advancement in our island chain. The last time I check, the Mariana Island chain belongs to the people of the CNMI collectively and whoever is claiming that the CNMI is rightfully theirs is a bunch of bigots. The CNMI House of Representatives Resolution 18-34 is a scare tactic to win an election and our elected officials are positioning themselves to get re-elected.Alexandro Sablan, another CNMI resident, wrote an eloquent letter to the editor to remind readers that all men are created equal. He saluted the five "statesmen that voted against the resolution that is against the granting of improved status for long-term guest workers", the governor, lieutenant governor, Delegate Sablan and the members of the Senate who support improved status.
A hundred and fifty years after the Gettysburg Address was penned, one would have thought that our country would have embraced the words of Lincoln and advanced from racist ideals.
President Obama wrote a 272-word, hand-written response to President's Lincoln's 272-word Gettysburg Address.
In the evening, when Michelle and the girls have gone to bed, I sometimes walk down the hall to a room Abraham Lincoln used as his office. It contains an original copy of the Gettysburg Address, written in Lincoln’s own hand.
I linger on these few words that have helped define our American experiment: "a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Through the lines of weariness etched in his face, we know Lincoln grasped, perhaps more than anyone, the burdens required to give those words meaning. He knew that even a self-evident truth was not self executing; that blood drawn by the lash was an affront to our ideals; that blood drawn by the sword was in painful service to those same ideals.
He understood as well that our humble efforts, our individual ambitions, are ultimately not what matter; rather, it is through the accumulated toil and sacrifice of ordinary men and women—those like the soldiers who consecrated that battlefield—that this country is built, and freedom preserved. This quintessentially self made man, fierce in his belief in honest work and the striving spirit at the heart of America, believed that it falls to each generation, collectively, to share in that toil and sacrifice.
Through cold war and world war, through industrial revolution and technological transformation, through movements for civil rights and women’s rights and workers rights and gay rights, we have. At times, social and economic change have strained our union. But Lincoln’s words give us confidence that whatever trials await us, this nation and the freedoms we cherish can, and shall, prevail.It would serve the CNMI well if the House's dirty dozen would read and contemplate the meaning of the words penned by these two Presidents. If the CNMI is to advance, its leaders must abandon their divisive and racist positions and instead defend the basic rights and freedoms of every person who calls the Northern Mariana Islands their home.
November 16, 2013
There is always a small, but vocal group of indigenous CNMI residents who oppose U.S. immigration reform legislation that would include a provision to grant an eventual pathway to citizenship to the CNMI's legal, long term foreign workers. This year it is Ana Teregeyo and the Northern Marianas Descent Corp. and 13 members of the CNMI House who oppose any upgraded status for these nonresident workers, who have lived and the CNMI for many years, most of them for decades.
The Saipan Tribune reported:
Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro’s (R-Saipan) HR 18-34 does not allow any provision in any pending U.S. Congress bill that would allow persons “of other ethnic origin or race who are in the [CNMI] to become U.S. permanent residents and subsequently become U.S. citizens."Resolutions are merely official statements, but they are also historical records. Any person who would sign such a statement is declaring that he/she is a racist. Ultimately that will be their legacy.
The 13 House members who supported racist Resolution HR 18-34 that was introduced by Fitialite Felicidad Ogumoro are:
Felicidad Ogumoro (R-Saipan), floor leader Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), Reps. Antonio Agulto (Ind-Saipan), Antonio Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Trenton Conner (Ind-Tinian), Lorenzo Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan), John Paul Sablan (Cov-Saipan), Teresita Santos (R-Rota), Mario Taitano (Ind-Saipan), and Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan).The xenophobic legislators intend to send their resolution to the U.S. Congress. There it will likely have little substantial impact except to confuse and to reinforce the notion that in the CNMI there are still a number of Fitial-type racists who possess superior complexes and agendas that conflict with basic American principles.
Governor Inos supports Delegate Sablan's CNMI provision and expressed disappointment with the resolution.
The timing of the resolution supporters is interesting. The CNMI immigration provision that the legislators oppose was not a secret. It was widely publicized and in fact, the Senate immigration reform bill with the CNMI provisions already passed in July 2013.
The CNMI proposal in the immigration bills is not perfect, but it is far better than the first CNMI proposal, which was a stand-alone bill, H.R. 1466. H.R. 1466 would have given CNMI-only status to a mere 1/4 of all legal nonresidents and would have kept them permanently disenfranchised.
In April 2013 I wrote this about the CNMI provision that made it to the Senate comprehensive immigration reform bill:
The CNMI provision is not perfect, but neither is the entire bill. Perfect would be a provision providing that all of the CNMI legal, longterm nonresident workers would be granted immediate permanent residency status. Perfect is not going to happen.
I share the exact sentiments expressed yesterday by President Obama: "This bill is clearly a compromise, and no one will get everything they wanted, including me. But it is largely consistent with the principles that I have repeatedly laid out for comprehensive reform. "Immigration reform has stalled in the U.S. House since Speaker Boehnner refused to let the Senate version be heard. The Huffington Post quoted Vice President Biden:
"He will not allow the House to play by fair play - the American way, to let the Congress actually vote their conscience to fix a broken system," the vice president said.
"This is a step backward in the history of the country." Biden urged the newly sworn-in Americans to push for immigration reform to help millions of undocumented residents living "in the shadows" of the United States.
"Don't pull up the ladder behind you," the vice president said. "There are millions of people who are already acting as decent Americans and deserve a chance, deserve a path. Reach back. Help as you move on. Don't be afraid. Lend your voice to those seeking the same rights you achieved today."The CNMI legislators may have forgotten that not long ago they were handed U.S. citizenship. They did not have to devote years or decades of their lives as overworked and under-appreciated labor units to 'earn' their U.S. citizenship. These resolution supporters may want to contemplate the words of Vice President Biden: "Lend your voice to those seeking the same rights you achieved. . ."