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CNMI’S FOREIGN WORKERS FACE DILEMMA Children have citizenship, parents don’t

By Junhan B. Todeno SAIPAN, CNMI (Mariana Variety, Aug. 6, 2009) - Hundreds of children of migrant workers who automatically became U.S. citizens having been born in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) are seeking improved status for their parents.

The group said it would be "devastating" for them, if their non-U.S. citizen parents are forced to go home if they fail to keep employment in the CNMI which continues to struggle with economic crisis.

The group also fears their parents are especially vulnerable once the U.S. immigration law is applied to the CNMI starting November 28.

Hazel Marie Doctor, one of the hundreds of children of migrant workers here, is asking others like her to join the scheduled meeting with the United Voice for Improved Status with the U.S. Delegates on August 9 at the Garapan Fishing Base.

"They should know that their parents are working hard for them," Doctor said, as she expressed apprehension that some of U.S. citizen children would rather remain silent than get involved themselves publicly.

Yesterday, the United Voice for Improved Status met to finalize their meeting with CNMI Congressman Gregorio Sablan, Congressman Nick Rahall, chairman of the Committee on Natural Resources; Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, chairwoman of the Sub-Committee on Insular Affairs, Oceans & Wildlife; and staff Brian Modeste.

Jan Santos, a local resident married to a Filipino worker, said she doesn’t want her three children to be separated from them.

"The US government has been noted for giving equality. They talked about equality, freedom and rights. They should show to us that equality by giving improved status to the non-resident guest workers, especially those with US citizen children," Santos said.

A member of the Chinese community who identified himself only as John told the Variety how he values the democratic process of the U.S. government.

He said he admired the freedom, the US government has propagated and they should show that good essence to the immigrants in Saipan.

He said the US government "should not treat us as a second-class citizen."

Boni Sagana, for his part, said the CNMI government is not obliged to give non-resident workers the improved status but the U.S. government can.

Rabby Syed said they believe the U.S. delegates can make a difference for their cause.

Yho Villavicencia is convinced that the visiting U.S. congressional delegation will have a great influence on the committee drafting regulations that will affect the migrants’ fate and their families.

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