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‘Improved status’ sought during federalization period

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, May 1, 2009) – Organizers of today's May Day rally expect at least a thousand participants who will support the call for an improved immigration status for alien workers, immediate relatives of U.S. and Freely Associated States citizens and other categories of nonresidents during the federalization transition period.

The peaceful rally will start at 6pm at the Garapan Fishing Base, to be followed by a march to the American Memorial Park amphitheater.

Rabby Syed and Ronnie Doca, president and board chair, respectively, of the United Workers Movement-NMI, said their list of speakers now includes former Gov. Juan N. Babauta and his running mate in the November elections, Galvin Deleon Guerrero.

Other guests are Rep. Tina Sablan, Ed Propst, Ron Hodges, lawyer Steve Woodruff, and Simon Sin.

"The United Workers Movement-NMI invites everyone to come and join tomorrow's events to make a unified voice, to ask the feds to look into our situation and give us improved status," said Doca.

Syed yesterday reiterated that they timed the rally ahead of the May 19 oversight hearing by the U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife on the implementation of the federalization law in the CNMI.

The United Workers Movement-NMI wants protection for nonresidents during the transition period and a pathway to permanent immigration status.

The group listed 11 specific objectives, including influence the federalization process, revise Public Law 110-220 or the federalization law, stabilize the workforce, free labor market, benefits for business and workers, and equal treatment of local and foreign workers.

Also on the list are reform of the CNMI labor and immigration system, provide a remedy for those the system has failed, protect families and children, recognize years of service and contributions to the community, and rebuild the CNMI economy.

Syed and Doca said they have concluded their preparations for today's rally, including making banners and streamers.

They said the Coalition of United Workers led by Rene Reyes has also thrown their support to the rally. Also joining the May Day rally are Dekada, Human Dignity Movement, Pilcowa, and the Chinese, Bangladeshi, Nepalese and Korean communities.

Meanwhile, the Coalition of United Workers, NMI (USA) is inviting the community to a barbecue potluck on Sunday, May 3, 9am-6pm at the 13 Fishermen's Pavilion on Beach Road.

The group's officials-Reyes, president; Uno Cambronero vice president; Regie Diesta, chairperson; and board member Kabir Hossan-said the get-together is intended to unite different individuals, whether from a workers group, citizens or non-citizens of the CNMI, employees (private and government), advocates, supporters or non-supporters of U.S. Public Law 110-229 and family with their kids.

"Let us talk and come up with a common interest. It's time to work together with one vision, a vision that benefit not only the workers, the businesses but also the whole community. This is for the people of the CNMI," they said.

The group has invited some prominent individuals who have knowledge of local and federal laws, workers' advocates, and supporters who are very vocal in workers rights.

"We will have a short question and answer program to educate and help us understand what the federal law brings to us and what our status will be when federalization is implemented," they said.

The coalition said it will join the May 1 event at the Garapan Fishing Base.

May Day, which occurs on May 1, is synonymous with International Workers' Day or Labor Day, which celebrates the social and economic achievements of the labor movement.

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