08 August 2011

Guam Governor Supports Visa Waiver Program for visitors to Guam & N. Marianas


Testimony of Eddie Baza Calvo 
on the Consolidated Natural Resources Act (H.R. 1466)

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife & Insular Areas

U.S. House of Representatives

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for inviting me to testify. For the record, I am Eddie Baza Calvo. I am the Governor of Guam. This is my written testimony on the implementation of Public Law 110-229, regarding the Guam/CNMI Visa Waiver program. I beg your indulgence as I explain the thinking of Guam’s new administration below.

As the new governor of Guam, in my first opportunity to testify before Congress, I want to be certain that the Members of the House are aware of the reasons it is critical for the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program be implemented and that Chinese and Russian nationals be allowed to travel to Guam and the CNMI, as originally intended by Congress.

I have a simple and unique message for Congress today. Unlike previous testimonies you may have heard in years past, I am not here to ask for subsidies. Guam is going through a unique transformation that, if done correctly, will result in unprecedented economic self-sufficiency in the long term.

Today we are far from that self-sufficiency. This fiscal year Guam will receive $369 million in federal grants and matching grants. These grants fund several federal and local programs, including our university land grants, the National Guard, public assistance, housing for the less fortunate, education programs, etc. These are the same grants the other States and territories seek and for which they compete. It costs the federal government far less to fund these programs in Guam because of our small population. For many of these programs, Guam does not receive the same relative share that other American communities do.

As a new governor, I hesitate to have the government of Guam rely so heavily on these grants to sustain local operations. We are taking steps to fix our financial house over the long term, but unfortunately, this funding has become critical to services. These grants have become increasingly important to Guam over the past 20 years. The year 1991 is an important year in Guam memory. That was the last time the government of Guam was able to pay tax refunds on time. We currently owe approximately $280 million in tax refunds, going as far back as Calendar Year 2005. There are several reasons why this has occurred, including natural disasters such as super typhoons, which have wrecked havoc on our island, and global events beyond our control, such as SARS, H1N1, and two Gulf wars, which have wrecked havoc on our main economic industry, Asian-based tourism. While our people are resilient and have rebounded and rebuilt, our government finances were not as resilient. In addition, federal court orders in the hundreds of millions have placed a great burden on the backs of our taxpayers. This government had to borrow to finance some of these orders. The annual debt service on the bonds to pay these court orders has significantly eroded our revenue base. The Earned Income Tax Credit, which we are obligated to pay under the mirror IRC tax code system we have, and which the federal government reimburses to the state governments, is not reimbursed to Guam. This is a drain on our General Fund of between $32 to $36 million annually.

Because of declining revenues, the result of Japan’s financial downturn, the decline in (U.S.) military spending, and federal court-mandated new programs, imposed fines and application of EITC, the money that should be set aside for tax refunds continues to be used to pay for essential government services. All this, along with the growth of freely associated states of the Micronesia (FAS) migration in ever-increasing numbers, has created a structural imbalance in our General Fund. And while our community has been growing, along with a greater demand for public services, collections have not kept pace with this growth. The cumulative deficit that has grown over the years now is $336 million, according to our FY 2010 audit report.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, our deficit is 51 percent of our current year's adopted revenues. It is unmanageable. It rides as a burden on the backs of taxpayers awaiting their refunds. I’m not here to ask you to solve our problems for us. We are working to do that on our own. I directed my Cabinet to begin personnel evaluations for performance and I have instituted a 10 percent cut in spending. An island-wide reassessment of property values currently is underway to increase revenues. Revenue agents also are going after non-filers and non-payers. I am not asking for a federal bailout. What I am asking is for the federal government to make good on its own mandates, with the same fervor and sense of urgency as it has imposed upon our government.

The year 1991 is the sixth year following the U.S. government’s compact, or treaty, with the freely associated states of Micronesia. In 1985, these new countries entered into an agreement with the U.S. The U.S. government said the people of these former U.S. administered territories could migrate freely into the United States. Noting the dismal conditions of these countries’ economies and education systems, the U.S. promised federal aid to them. Rightly so, our country wanted to leave a legacy of progress in former territories it liberated and held in trust. The U.S. government agreed to absorb and pay for the impact of their migration to the States and territories of the U.S.

It’s been 26 years since then. The promise the U.S. made to the citizens of the FAS has resulted in meager improvements to their economies and school systems. As a result, the bulk of the FAS citizens, tens of thousands of them, have migrated to the closest U.S. port of entry: Guam. Our island absorbs well over half the migratory impact of the treaty the U.S. government entered with the FAS. Resultingly, Guam’s unemployment rate now is 13.3 percent. The true financial impact of this migration has cost the government of Guam nearly $1 billion since the Compacts were signed. Yet, Guam has only received $xxx since the Compacts. To put this in perspective, our General Fund generates about a half a billion dollars annually. Guam has found itself the casualty of another unfunded federal mandate.

I understand, however, that the U.S. government is itself in a bad economic state and will probably never fully reimburse Guam for the impacts of the Compacts. But I want to put into perspective how this federal mandate has contributed to, and may even be said to have caused, our deficit and the structural imbalance of the General Fund. We have been able to quantify most of what it costs to pay for government services directly used by citizens of the FAS annually. The figure is $113 million a year, for which we have never been reimbursed more than $14.5 million. That is about $100 million, or one-fifth of our local budget going to provide unreimbursed social services to FAS migrants. The rate of usage in each service category is alarming. I attached a breakdown, but here are some highlights:

Program                                      % of Participants Who Are FAS Citizens in Each Program

Medically Indigent Program                                                               67 %

Alternative School for At-Risk Youth                                                42 %

Public Housing Vouchers                                                                  32%

Youth Detention and Rehabilitation                                                    36%

Prisons                                                                                             25 %

Public Schools                                                                                  19%

Emergency Shelters                                                                          48%


Three years worth of this impact outpaces the size of our General Fund deficit. If you consider the direct costs the government of Guam incurs because of this federal mandate, you can see that the appropriations needed to meet the demand for services will always outpace the revenues we collect. This federal mandate, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, is driving up the cost of government services in Guam; costing us approximately $100 million annually.

We are told that we need to understand the federal government’s financial situation. We are told we must take into consideration the federal bureaucracy’s hardships and ability to pay. That is reasonable. What is most unreasonable is the hardship unfunded federal mandates, such as the FAS Compacts and EITC, place on our island people, forcing us to withhold tax refunds as our government continues to use their monies to subsidize the cost of providing government services to our residents as a result of the Compacts. Adding insult to injury, while the federal government sees no need to reimburse us beyond its ability, some would say its willingness, to pay us, it imposes on us additional mandates, orders, receiverships and fees without any regard for our ability to pay and sustain services for our residents. Here is a list of these orders and fines:

Consent Decree and receivership filed by the U.S. EPA                    $202,425,000

Court order to pay the federally - unfunded EITC                             $72,845,303

Stipulated Order filed by the U.S. EPA                                             $118,825,000

Permanent Injunction and receivership
filed by the U.S. Department of Justice                                             $15,950,000

Consent Decree filed by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons                          $9,636,593


The government of Guam has repeatedly asked the federal court and the federal agencies pursuing these fines and orders to consider the progress we were making in meeting the demands of the federal mandates. We have repeatedly asked for consideration on the rigid timelines imposed to provide the local cash to fund our compliance initiatives. We were told such considerations were not possible. It is a tragic irony that the federal government can withhold from us just reimbursement for its federal mandates because of its cash situation, despite the overwhelming impact of its failure to meet its own mandates, yet give us no consideration of the effect that its failure to reimburse us has on our ability to pay its other mandates.

On top of this, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now wants the government of Guam to install secondary wastewater treatment facilities at the cost of $400 million. The U.S. EPA does not care how this will impact our people; nor has it considered other less expensive and environmentally sensitive technological solutions for wastewater treatment.

How is it right that we are made to pay for more than three-quarters of a billion dollars in federal mandates when the federal government still owes us a billion dollars in reimbursements for its obligation to us?

The federal government is strangling us with mandates it expects our cash-strapped government to meet upon unreasonable timelines and demands. There has been no consideration for our ability to sustain our financial house while meeting these orders and paying for what is supposed to be the federal government’s bill. These extraordinary demands not only drain our financial resources, they rob us of the attention and focus we need to pay to our own local programs and initiatives to combat poverty and increase wealth among Guamanians. Make no mistake about it; we are good American citizens who are doing our part to deal with these problems ourselves. We have a full throttle economic and financial agenda. The only thing getting in our way is the federal government’s burdensome bureaucracy, mandates, rules and regulations.

Despite these challenges, we are moving forward with viable economic initiatives to improve the quality of life for Guamanians and increase our presence in the Asia Pacific Rim.

My administration is developing a long-term economic strategic plan, which leverages the military buildup investment with our strategic location between Asia and the mainland United States. I am bringing the community together to use available information and academic methodologies and best practices to forecast Guam’s economy and its community of the future. We will project our needs, identify budding industries, shore up our workforce goals and create a community model supported by the infrastructure, workforce and regulatory environment fit to meet these projections. We will align curriculum in our schools, colleges and university to meet these goals, creating certainty in our future in much the same way several Asian nations went from lands of scarce natural resources to the economic tigers they are today.

As this planning and implementation process occurs, we have already launched an affordable housing initiative to spark construction and generate interest in mortgages for first-time homeowners. Our goal is to build 3,000 affordable homes over the next five years. We launched the initiative two weeks ago. Already, 188 homes are slated for development in the near future.

The much-anticipated and recently much-debated military buildup is causing increased interest in the island. Our economic development agency, along with our Chamber of Commerce, has been organizing trade missions to Guam from Taiwan, Korea, China, the Philippines and Japan. We want Asian capital to flow into our economy. I will be leading trade missions to these countries later this year to court investors personally.

The University of Guam is aggressively networking to build research and development parks as incubators of new business and new industry. More so than ever before, the University is taking a commanding role in community development. It has become a regional leader in economic initiatives. More importantly, it has begun a long-overdue dialogue on sustainability in the islands. One of the initiatives this is leading to is the creation of the University of Guam School of Engineering. These initiatives will lead to solutions to which both Micronesia and the U.S. government have long aspired.

Stagnation and an increasingly competitive field of nearby emerging destinations have impacted tourism, our number one industry. The Japanese disasters of March 2011 have also had their most recent effect on our Asian-based tourism industry. We are adapting and coping as best we can, but there is only so much we can do.

My message is this: We can make it on our own if the federal government makes good on its own mandates, and releases us from restrictions that do not make sense for our very unique economy and for the United States. We believe this is an especially appropriate message to send to you as Congress and President Obama try desperately to curb federal spending and reduce the federal deficit. But that’s just one narrow way of seeing things.

Guam and the CNMI are geopolitically positioned in a way no other U.S. community is. Our location, tied with our reputation in Asia and the Pacific of being the strongest, closest, most stable and hospitable American community in that part of the world presents the United States with an opportunity to increase American clout militarily, economically and diplomatically with the fastest growing economies in the world. Put simply, we are in a political and geographic position to make our country shine. Not only are we proud to be in this position, we are excited to take a lead role. This is, after all, in the spirit of the bipartisan call from Congress for American communities to exhibit leadership in gaining financial independence and economic development. I offer to you solutions to make this happen:

Release Travel Visa Restrictions on Chinese and Russian Outbound Visitors
to Guam and the CNMI Only

The United States currently does not have a visa waiver program with China and Russia. Two of the main reasons for this are concerns for national security and of Chinese and Russian nationals violating their visa conditions and overstaying in the U.S. These issues are of obvious significant concern for the U.S. I reiterate, though, what Congress already understood when it passed the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008.

Guam is not part of the contiguous United States. We have 212 square miles of land surrounded by the deep blue Pacific. It is not difficult to find people in our island, but it is hard to get past customs and immigration officers at our airport. Even Congress supports this in its own findings. When Congress established the Guam VWP in 1987 as an amendment to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Congress emphasized the inherent protections afforded the United States’ welfare, safety and security by Guam’s geographical isolation. Congress determined that:

The unique conditions prevailing on Guam and its isolated location provide sufficient safeguards for the welfare, safety and security of the United States to justify a broad application of the visa waiver system. Guam's isolation as an island in the Pacific Ocean easily allows for the restriction of visa waiver recipients to the Territory thereby preventing them from traveling onward to Hawaii and the mainland. Guam's small area and its relatively small population ensure that any non-immigrants who overstay the visa waiver period . . . can be quickly located and removed. . . . Given the inherent protections which Guam offers the welfare, safety and security of the United States the visa waiver system should be liberally applied to a broad range of countries. . . . It is intended that the visa waiver program should initially be given wide application. If threats to the welfare, safety or security of the United States develop those threats should be dealt with on a country by country basis.1

Although China and Russia are currently excluded from the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, because of our remote location allowing Chinese and Russian outbound tourists to vacation in Guam and the CNMI should not cause such alarm to our national and homeland security agencies.

Guam has long sought visa waiver programs with China and Russia. It makes sense when you consider what this can do for our island economy and for the investment of Chinese and Russian capital into the U.S. economy. Our local considerations are obvious. Guam has relied upon Japanese outbound tourists since the 1960s to fuel tourism, our number-one industry. It is this strong economic alliance we’ve built with the Japanese that built the Guam economy. That transformation from the rubbles of World War II bombardments and the devastation of a Category 5 storm is nothing short of miraculous.

Unfortunately, when the Japanese economy tanks, Guam feels it. Over the last decade, we’ve felt its stagnation. Tourists are not staying as long as they used to. They’re not spending as much as they did before. On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit by a major earthquake, followed by a devastating tsunami and damage to a nuclear power plant. Guam is still feeling the economic effects of the Japan triple disaster. Tourism numbers from Japan have declined over 20 percent. We’ve been fortunate to increase our share of the Korean market and to attract further interest from Taiwan, the Philippines and Australia, but these other countries represent only a small portion of our tourism base. While we have struggled to reinvent our market and to diversify into markets with existing visa waiver programs, we find ourselves competing with several other Asian destinations that have recently emerged. They are all attracting the 55 million outbound Chinese and the 13 million Russian tourists. Guam is anxious to have its share of these markets and we have the infrastructure to support it. Access to Chinese and Russian visitors has the potential of increasing our gross domestic product by the billions and creating thousands of jobs. But Guam isn’t the only body politic that stands to gain from these proposed visa waiver programs.

In fact, the State Department has collaborated with the National Governors Association to bring provincial governors from China to the NGA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, later this month, and is also scheduling a state visit by U.S. governors to China for the Fall of 2011. President Obama in 2008 also issued a National Export Initiative designed at doubling U.S. exports, which recognizes tourism as an export component.

Part of the United States’ National Export Initiative is to reduce the huge trade deficit with China. Guam can help facilitate that. The 55 million Chinese outbound visitors are exporting Chinese capital, yet the easiest markets accepting them are not U.S. markets. They are other Chinese cities and Asian destinations that are fast depleting opportunities for the U.S.

Allowing China to participate in the visa waiver program for Guam and the CNMI, will bring billions of dollars in Chinese currency to the U.S. The capital will flow into U.S. banks on Guam, and then be invested into the imports we receive from the U.S. mainland. This program can be part of a winning strategy to meet the objectives of the National Export Initiative and begin reclaiming economic strength in Asia.

We need Congress’s help in affirming China and Russia’s participation in the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.

Provide Funding Certainty to the Defense Department for the Military Buildup on Guam

A growing pillar in our economy is Defense-related activity, spurred by Defense spending on Guam. The pending military buildup caused a mini-boom of development when plans were announced a few years ago. Unfortunately, uncertainty and anxiety about the buildup has been increasing because of Defense cuts over the past year by Congress.

To date, little has been said or released about the United States’ funding commitment to the Global Realignment of the Armed Forces initiative affecting Guam and Okinawa-based forces. The Japanese government has made similar commitments and has deposited vast sums of money to the U.S. Treasury. The uncertainty is on the part of the U.S. government, which lately has seemed reluctant to honor the bilateral agreements effectuated by the State Department.

We do recognize Congress is in a bind because the cost of the buildup is still unknown. However, even the Senate recognizes there is a buildup happening and there are costs. At this point, reducing those costs without any notice of how the buildup will proceed and what investments will be made each year sends mixed signals and causes confusion. There is a need for federal officials to communicate more effectively with Congress, the Government Accountability Office, and the government of Guam on buildup plans and the outlay of spending over the next decade.

The anxiety on the part of our local government, our private sector and prospective investors has been exacerbated by recent cuts to Defense spending in Guam. The Senate Armed Services Committee recently removed an appropriation for improvements to Andersen Air Force Base, and a $33 million appropriation to help mitigate the impacts of a firing range and other buildup activities. This, while just a fraction of the total cost, is significant to us because it was part of a very much criticized negotiation that finally led to the signing of the Programmatic Agreement over the disposition of historic artifacts and other such finds during the proposed buildup.

These so-called ‘signals’ from Congress have triggered a standstill on development and business activity related to the buildup. Investors now are taking a ‘wait and see’ stance with Asian capital that they would have already invested into the U.S. via Guam. It is critical to our development that Congress makes good on the United States’ promises and provide assurances that it will fund this buildup.

Inclusion in the Korea Free Trade Agreement and All Current and Future Agreements

The sad part about Guam’s enduring relationship with the United States is it seems the U.S. government picks and chooses when to apply mandates and benefits to our territory. Sometimes Guam is included as a U.S. territory, many other times we are treated as an international community not eligible for the same benefits and protections the rest of the country receives. This is the case with the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

The President’s Office of the United States Trade Representative says, “If approved, the Agreement would be the United States' most commercially significant free trade agreement in more than 16 years.

“The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that the reduction of Korean tariffs and tariff-rate quotas on goods alone would add $10 billion to $12 billion to annual U.S. Gross Domestic Product and around $10 billion to annual merchandise exports to Korea.” It goes on to state:

“In addition to strengthening our economic partnership, the KORUS FTA would help to solidify the two countries' long-standing geostrategic alliance.

As the first U.S. FTA with a North Asian partner, the KORUS FTA could be a model for trade agreements for the rest of the region, and underscore the U.S. commitment to, and engagement in, the Asia-Pacific region.”

Guam is, without a doubt, at the center of U.S. interests in this Asia-Pacific region. Why, then, have we been excluded from the agreement? We ask Congress to push for Guam’s inclusion in the agreement.

Guam can play a pivotal role as the United States expands its interests in our region. We are important for American interests in Asia. We are important for Asian interests in America. At the heart of this strategic geopolitical value are many factors all related to our location and our proud heritage as the westernmost frontier of the United States:

1. The major strategic importance of the military bases – present and future – on Guam, the “Tip of the spear”

2. The airline hubs connecting Asia with Micronesia

3. The frontline role we have in the potential for development in Micronesia

4. The international web of fiber optic cables based beneath the island

5. The transnational shipping routes that flow through our oceanic backyard

6. The international conventions and treaties on fisheries and fishing that is a multi-billion dollar industry in our waters

7. The academic research and consortiums of marine science based out of our university.

8. The opportunity to reduce the U.S. trade deficit and bring billions of Asian currency to America through Guam.

There is a clear connection between Asia and America. Guam is that bridge. We are the hosts to American interests in the Western Pacific. We set the stage for Asian entrance to U.S. markets. We can be leaders in an economic alliance between Asia and America. Give us the opportunities to make it on our own and we will help America to shine.

The American Dream is powerful. It is no wonder we are a nation of immigrants. People from across the globe saw from their borders the bright and shining promise that is the American Dream. In America, you can work hard and earn a living. It doesn’t matter whether your father is a king or your mother is a pauper, or whether you grew up poor or you didn’t think you had the right skin color or faith. You can own a home. You can be your own boss. You can compete against the best, and you can win. This dream is attracting people to our shores in much the same way. While we are a small island, we represent America’s heritage of warmth and hospitality to all those looking for freedom and opportunity. If you haven’t been to Guam, you may be surprised when you get there. People from all walks of life go about their business trying to make ends meet and build something great for their families. It is a microcosm of these contiguous United States, where freedom is celebrated and people take advantage of opportunity.

We are asking you for those opportunities so the American Dream can become a reality for your fellow Americans in Guam. In doing so, we can do our part in bringing the American Dream to more Americans.

We are pursuing a Guamanian Century of Prosperity at the dawn of an American Millennium of Leadership and Hope. Some have said the great American Century is over. They say that, like Greece and Rome, the Holy Roman Empire and Spain, America’s light above the world is destined to dim. I see the light of the world every morning on my porch as warm ocean winds blow upon the Star Spangled Banner and the Guam Flag that fly high above Government House. Freedom has no end, nor can time limit its virtue. No other country was built upon these ideals. It is a blessing from God to see the majesty of His creation illuminated by the dawn of a new day. Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, as an American living in a land that wakes to the first sunrise of this vast nation, I can tell you that the light of the world touches America first. Let us be leaders in this country’s future.

1/ 132 Cong. Rec. S4844 (Apr. 24, 1986); see also 132 Cong. Rec.H5274 (Aug. 1, 1986).

Northern Marianas Governor Supports Visa Waiver Program to facilitate tourism industry




U.S. House of Representatives

The Subcommittee has invited me to testify on the federalization law, Title VII of the CNRA (Public Law 110-22) and to comment on H.R. 1466. I appreciate the opportunity to do so.

Twice during 2010 I appeared before this Subcommittee to comment on the federalization law—on May 18, 2010 and September 16, 2010. Nothing has changed for the better since then. To some extent I have been tempted simply to resubmit my earlier testimony regarding the federal government’s failure to honor Congressional intent and to implement the detailed provisions of the law in a timely, orderly, and constructive fashion. These were the major points which I made twice to the Subcommittee in 2010:

• Failure to grant visa waivers: The Department of Homeland Security’s Interim Rule regarding the proposed Guam-CNMI joint visa waiver program did not comply with Congressional intent and is preventing the Commonwealth from its potential of significantly increasing visitors from China and Russia.

• Failure to deport illegal aliens: The Department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit does not have an effective program in place to identify and remove illegal aliens in the Commonwealth.

• Failure to monitor exits of tourists: The Department’s Customs and Border Protection unit does not have an effective exit control method capable of preventing an increase in the number of illegal aliens in the Commonwealth.

• Failure to provide Congress with useful reports: The Government Accountability Office and the Department of the Interior have failed to provide the Congress with the kind of objective, useful reports assessing the implementation of the federalization law in a way that would assist this Subcommittee.

One year later – and more than three years after the law was enacted – the situation continues to deteriorate and the Commonwealth suffers as a result. The uncertainty created by this law has created an unacceptable limbo situation that has severely hampered new investment and has created morale problems throughout our community. Many businesses have already lost their investments and others are expected to close if this situation is not rectified. Very few businesses have begun the process of applying for U.S. employment-based visas for their staffs due to the high cost and uncertainty in the regulations.

This year I have made extensive personal efforts to try to improve this situation. I have met with officials with responsibilities for implementing the law in the three DHS components (USCIS, ICE and CBP), the Interior Department, and the U.S. Labor Department. I can report some progress based on these discussions.

In my meeting with Director Mayorkas of USCIS, we reviewed important aspects of the proposed rules for the issuance of temporary work permits for aliens currently in the Commonwealth. He and his staff have listened carefully to our concerns about a large number of practical aspects of the work permit program. I believe that we in the Commonwealth and USCIS will have both the capability, and a cooperative spirit, to deal with the late roll-out of the worker regulations. The delay in issuing these rules in final form has resulted, in part, from our joint staff consultations about the program, and the USCIS efforts to address our concerns. I am persuaded that the new program will better meet the needs of the CNMI and its U.S. citizens as well as the alien labor force.

I have also broken the impasse with ICE about that agency’s desired use of the Commonwealth’s correctional facility. On the assumption that a partnership sometimes needs to start with one side giving more than another, I agreed to accept the ICE proposal of a relatively low per-diem rate for use of the facility. A few days before this agreement was to take effect, the Commonwealth learned of a 60% reduction in the level of ICE detainees to be authorized. Not only would this have a significant, negative fiscal impact on the CNMI, it would also mean lowered capacity to review and remove illegals from the Commonwealth. Nonetheless, we went forward to implement the agreement.

However, the overall situation remains extraordinarily harmful to the Commonwealth. It is time for the Subcommittee to consider the overall implementation of PL 110-229 and its impact on the 30,000 United States citizens living in the Commonwealth. Based on what we have experienced over the past three years, this law is being implemented to reshape—and substantially hurt – the Commonwealth’s economy and community. In particular, the implementation of this unnecessarily complicated law operates to reduce the political authority of the Commonwealth’s local government in ways that would not be tolerated in the counties and States on the Mainland. By doing so, it harms the indigenous elements in the CNMI population – namely, the Chamorro and Carolinian people – who gave up their land and sovereignty in return for U.S. citizenship and the opportunity to enjoy the political freedoms and economic opportunities available to all U.S. citizens.

We have no objection to federal control of immigration if it is done efficiently and effectively as Congress intended. What has happened instead is that Title VII of PL 110-229 has brought to the Commonwealth all of the very serious immigration problems that exist on the Mainland. We have many illegal aliens who are not being deported – although one of the clearly stated goals of the federalization law was to reduce alien workers who could not obtain a standard federal visa to zero within a few years. Some of these illegal aliens are employed illegally and take jobs away from U.S. citizens. Others are unemployed and survive on government benefits that provide an incentive not to leave the Commonwealth. Particularly since federal authority came into effect, the Commonwealth has had an increased inflow of tourists and others who entered on a temporary basis but remain illegally in the CNMI hoping for access to amnesty that will provide a green card. The burden on CNMI taxpayers related to illegal and unemployed aliens is heavy.

With a population of more than 300 million people, the 50 States of the United States can absorb the economic and social costs of these immigration failures – although there appears to be a growing awareness across our country that serious immigration reform is necessary. But the Commonwealth has only 30,000 U.S. citizens, with about 16,000 of them being registered voters. Our small community is enormously burdened by these failures, which have complicated the Commonwealth’s efforts to address its continued economic decline.

When it enacted Title VII, Congress promised the Commonwealth a balance between benefits and burdens in connection with this so-called immigration reform. All of the burdens we warned about have certainly come to pass, in even worse levels than we predicted. However, we have received absolutely none of the benefits that the drafters of the bill promised. To be specific:

1. No visa waivers: The bill provides for a visa waiver program with respect to Russia and China, two very important markets for us. The visa waiver program has been blocked. We understand that the Department of Homeland Security has twice examined possible national security implications of a visa waiver program for the Commonwealth and Guam and has found none. The Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior have no objection. We understand that the Department of State has refused, on policy grounds, to implement what has been mandated by Congress. Our tourist industry – the principal economic basis for our economy – has been seriously hurt. While we appreciate the efforts of Secretary Napolitano to give us a temporary parole system, such a system simply does not allow for necessary continued investments in growing these markets due to the fact that the program can be halted without notice.

2. No technical assistance: The bill mandates technical assistance from four federal agencies -- Labor, DHS, Commerce, and Interior. Three years later, Labor, DHS, and Commerce have given us nothing under PL 110-229 and have denied our very modest requests for grants. Interior has no funding for technical assistance specifically with respect to PL 110-229, but has allocated to the CNMI some of the technical assistance funds which we would otherwise receive under regular insular area programs.

3. No effective immigration enforcement: The bill promises effective immigration enforcement. We are given no official statistics by ICE, but immigration lawyers report that ICE has deported fewer than 100 aliens in three years. At that rate, ICE will not clear the books of illegal aliens in the Commonwealth for many decades. ICE also refuses to fund a very low-cost software-based effort to identify illegal aliens who arrived prior to 1996.

4. Poor performance at the border: The CBP agents who man the border in the CNMI are all temporary assignees. We have constant complaints that they are rude, arrogant, and slow in processing arriving tourists. Tourism is our lifeblood. An unwelcoming atmosphere at the border is unacceptable. In addition, CBP has prevented the Commonwealth from maintaining its exit database that compared entry data to exit data and was very effective in identifying overstaying tourists. CBP has no exit database that can provide current information on overstayers. As a result, it appears that we have an increasing number of aliens in overstayer status and no way to identify them. CBP refuses to acknowledge its responsibility for these problems and has insisted on applying the same ineffective program in the Commonwealth that it does in the Mainland, although a more effective CNMI program has demonstrated its utility and is available.

5. No funding to substitute for coverover: The bill takes away a major funding source, the coverover to the Commonwealth from immigration and naturalization fees paid to the United States, which is available to other territories. We are given only a very small fee from work permits – about one quarter to one-eighth of our prior funding – in return when the regulations are finally issued. To date, we have received no funding from this source.

6. No consultation: The bill provides that we will be consulted before reports are submitted to Congress. That has not happened. Executive Branch reports are submitted before we have ever had a chance to even see a draft. I should note that the GAO routinely allows us to review a draft, but this is not the case with the Department of the Interior or the Department of State.

I could go on at great length about how the burdens have multiplied and the benefits have never materialized. However, it has been my experience that these oversight hearings with a piecemeal approach are not a forum in which meaningful change can occur. This Committee cannot get ICE to deport more than a relatively few illegal aliens each year or get CBP to stop being rude to visitors who enter the Commonwealth, or get Labor or Commerce to provide the technical assistance we were promised, or get additional funds for Interior. We are working hard on these problems within the Executive Branch, but the Commonwealth is very small and our problems are easy for federal bureaucrats to ignore. Only if this Subcommittee is willing to underwrite a serious, system-wide reform of the implementation of PL 110-229, and amendment of its provisions that do not work, will the Commonwealth see any progress.


Now I would like to address HR 1466. I oppose this bill and urge that it not be acted on by this Subcommittee.

Many of the difficulties encountered in the implementation of Title VII result from the fact that it was drafted by persons without any expertise in immigration law or understanding of the Commonwealth’s economy. It is our view that HR 1466, and other bills dealing with immigration in the insular areas, should be handled by the appropriate subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. I know that other bills are being considered there that may have some potential applicability to the Commonwealth, especially federal laws that endorse the authority of the States to deal with the employment of illegal aliens by employers. For example, I am impressed by the bill introduced by Representative Lamar Smith with respect to a national program to deter the employment of illegal aliens.1/

I believe that Congressman Sablan proposed this bill without the demographic information necessary to assess its impact on the Commonwealth. That is not his fault. The U.S. Labor Department and the U.S. Department of Commerce do not provide the Commonwealth with the full range of data services routinely available to States and counties in the Mainland. We have recently been told that we will not even have the preliminary results of the 2010 census until 2012. 2/

I did not see a draft of HR 1466 before it was introduced, and I understand that experts on alien labor in the Commonwealth also were not consulted. After HR 1466 was introduced, I requested a detailed analysis of its likely social and economic impact. We understand that the numbers involved in HR 1466 will strike some Members of Congress as very small, compared to the U.S. immigration numbers. Some may assume the effect would also be minor. That is wrong. We have only 30,000 U.S. citizens living in the islands that make up the Commonwealth and about 16,000 registered voters who are predominantly of Carolinian and Chamorro ancestry. We are like a very small county in one of the 50 States.

We now estimate that there were approximately 23,000 aliens (including illegals) residing in the Commonwealth at the end of 2008. Unlike our U.S. citizen population, most of these aliens are adults. Most of these aliens, but perhaps not all, were present in the CNMI on May 8, 2008, the date of enactment of the federalization law, and therefore would meet one of the requirements of HR 1466 to gain the bill’s preferred status for parents of U.S. citizen children. Because of CBP’s failure to maintain an exit database that can rapidly identify overstayers, we do not know how many of these aliens are still in the Commonwealth. We believe that nearly all are still present. At present, more than half of them are unemployed, due to the serious economic recession that has caused a 45 % decrease in the Commonwealth’s GDP over the past several years. 3/ A recent GAO report estimates that employment in the CNMI has dropped an unprecedented 35% from 2006 to 2009. 4/

The Commonwealth began admitting alien workers in numbers in 1985 as the garment and tourism industries began to grow simultaneously. Many of these workers were from the Philippines and China, most were female, and most were relatively young. Many gave birth in the Commonwealth, and these children were U.S. citizens by virtue of the Commonwealth’s status as a territory of the United States. As the federal presence in the Commonwealth grew during the 1990’s, some federal officials repeatedly suggested that the alien parents of U.S. citizen children were entitled to special status – although that certainly is not the case under U.S. immigration law. Not surprisingly, the births of children to aliens increased.

When the Commonwealth controlled its own immigration, we admitted alien workers on a temporary basis while they remained employed, and unemployed aliens were repatriated. When the garment manufacturers closed down because of changes in WTO rules, the Commonwealth repatriated over 16,000 alien workers beginning in 2005. After the federalization law was enacted in 2008, some federal officials promised a path to US citizenship for aliens who had U.S. citizen children or who had lived in the Commonwealth for several years. This gave aliens a strong incentive to stay in the CNMI rather than return home.

Beginning in 2006, U.S. citizen children of aliens reached age 21 in increasing numbers and began petitioning for green card status for their alien parents. This occurred under the normal U.S. immigration processes, which are available to all qualified aliens – and which we think should apply to the Commonwealth in the same way as in the States. There is no need for a special citizenship provision applied only to the Commonwealth. When the Judiciary Committee considers immigration reform for the U.S., the Commonwealth will be a part of that reform. We do not want or need an amnesty bill now.

HR 1466 creates four categories of new U.S. citizens. I want to focus on the fourth category which covers alien parents of minor U.S. citizen children. 5/

Here’s what will happen under HR 1466: This category is, by Commonwealth standards, very large. Here's what happens under HR 1466:

1. Large scale amnesty for aliens: HR 1466 is essentially a large-scale amnesty bill. It provides a direct route to citizenship that would create an estimated 11,000 new U.S. citizens in the Commonwealth within the next 10 years – virtually all of whom are adults and would be voters.6 This would occur at a time when the current U.S. citizen population of Chamorro and Carolinian ancestry is estimated to decline. Our severe economic recession has caused some of these citizens to move to the Mainland just to earn enough to support their families. The social disruption from arbitrarily creating citizens in this large proportion cannot be overstated. I do not believe that turning this large population of alien temporary workers into citizen voters would be tolerated in any county or State in the United States.

2. Permanent CNMI-only residence: Under HR 1466, these aliens are granted permanent residence in the Commonwealth for all time. They are protected from deportation until their minor child reaches age 21 and can petition for a grant of a green card for the parent leading to U.S. citizenship. That is a significant distortion of the U.S. immigration system. Allowing these aliens to remain in the Commonwealth – even if they do not petition for adjustment of status to be able to enter the Mainland U.S. – is a long-term burden on the Commonwealth that occurs nowhere else in the U.S.

3. Non-custodial parents included: A parent who provided no support whatsoever to the minor U.S. citizen child or never lived in a household with the minor child is qualified to remain in the Commonwealth. HR 1466 only requires a parent’s name on a birth certificate – not any evidence of a meaningful parental relationship.

4. Unemployed and unemployable parents included: A parent who is unemployed will qualify to remain in the Commonwealth forever. The CNMI will have to foot the bill for supporting them because, under HR 1466, they are not allowed to travel to the U.S. The direct and indirect costs to the CNMI government each year for unemployed aliens remaining in the Commonwealth is high and a particular burden on CNMI taxpayers.

5. Parents with no means of support included: A parent who has no means of support whatsoever will qualify. The bill attempts to get rid of the requirement for U.S. green cards of a sponsor willing and able to undertake the responsibility to pay support in the amount of at least $18,000 a year (at present levels) should the alien not be able to support himself or herself.7 This means that aliens with no visible means of support would qualify to remain in the Commonwealth or to become U.S. citizens. This is not allowed anywhere else in the U.S.

6. Parents with a history of illegal employment included: A parent who works illegally in the underground economy, and harms the Commonwealth in the process, is eligible. This kind of broad amnesty encourages illegal employment as there is no deportation penalty. It also undermines employment opportunities for U.S. citizens. Although HR 1466 does not address the issue, it appears that this new status would also be available to persons who entered the CNMI before or after November 28, 2009, and became an illegal overstayer in violation of the INA, notwithstanding the general rule that illegal entrants and immigration violators are not allowed to be admitted into the United States.

7. Parents who have left the Commonwealth included: A parent who left the Commonwealth after November 2009 and has not returned to the Commonwealth will qualify if he or she returns by the date of enactment of HR 1466. The promise of U.S. citizenship is likely to attract a substantial number of re-entrants. This will aggravate the Commonwealth’s current problem with unemployed aliens.

8. Parents of children raised elsewhere included: A child who was born in the Commonwealth but was sent by his or her parent to live in China or the Philippines – and who remains with relatives in the Philippines or China for his or her entire childhood to age 21 – can still protect his or her parents, enabling them to remain in the Commonwealth more or less permanently for the prospect of better employment or welfare benefits.

9. APA protections stripped away: H.R. 1466 strips away the protections of the federal Administrative Procedures Act by permitting the Department of Homeland Security to promulgate implementing regulations without the customary requirement of issuing them in proposed form and providing for a period within which the affected parties may comment. Are we incapable of learning from experience? We had to go to federal court in November 2009 to order to require DHS to comply with the provisions of the APA with respect to its proposed transitional worker permits. I see no reason for including this exception in this law.

10. A definition of “immediate relative” rejected by the Commonwealth legislature determines the eligible class: The bill refers to a definition of “immediate relative” that was in the Commonwealth Code prior to May 2008.8 That definition was struck from the Commonwealth Code by our Legislature. We have found that, under well-accepted drafting rules, cross references to definitions in other legislation may be appropriate in very limited cases.9 This is not one of those cases. A cross-reference to legislation that was repealed prior to the time of the legislation containing the cross-reference is particularly unacceptable. Among other flaws, it masks the true intent of the bill to those who are not lawyers or skilled legislative researchers.

11. Prior problems of adoption fraud are revived: The old now-repealed definition of “immediate relative” refers to adopted children who are adopted prior to age 21. This led to significant problems with adoption fraud in the Commonwealth – children who were adopted for the purpose of conveying status for immigration purposes. H.R. 1466 allows an alien parent who has more than one U.S. citizen child the leeway to consent to an adoption of one of the children for the purposes of eligibility under HR 1466. If this happened to any significant extent, as it has before, this would increase the number of eligible parents.

Let me be clear. It is the U.S. citizens in the Commonwealth who gave up their land and their sovereignty to become a part of the United States. The U.S. citizens in the Commonwealth have a right not to have their community and culture be so radically changed in this fashion -- unless they decide to do so through their own democratic institutions.

We treated guest workers well over the years, and we continue to do so. Some critics have cited poor working conditions. We corrected those long ago. Some cited an estimated $6.1 million in back pay owed to guest workers over the 25 years since 1985. That estimate was wrong. The total turned out, after investigation, to be far lower. All claims of back pay have been adjudicated; and only a relative few cases remain in our courts. Other critics have pointed to alleged human trafficking violations. Human trafficking is a federal crime and the only fair measure is convictions in federal cases – not allegations or rumors. Federal convictions over the past 10 years have been very, very few. Our record over the years is the equal to, and we think better than, anywhere aliens are employed in large numbers in the United States. And we understand why aliens in the Commonwealth want to stay. They have freedoms, are treated well, and have employment opportunities and social benefits.

I have a proposal for an H-5 visa within the regular U.S. immigration system, and the CNMI Senate has a proposal for a non-citizenship status somewhat akin to the status of Freely Associated State residents in the Commonwealth. Both of these proposals are in the supplementary materials to be provided to the Committee. Both of these proposals are far better alternatives for the people of the Commonwealth than HR 1466.


1/ Six States have now passed legislation to deal with some aspects of this problem. Most recently, Louisiana on July 7, 2011, enacted two laws dealing with the usage of the federal E-Verify Program. One law requires all state and local contractors to use E-Verify; and the other requires private businesses to verify the legal status of their new hires by providing employers that use it a safe harbor against sanctions.

2/ Some of the information currently being provided by the U.S. Census Bureau with respect to the CNMI appears to be projections based on unidentified assumptions. For example, its listing for the Northern Mariana Islands contained in its International Programs Division shows a population of 48,000 for mid-year 2010, 46,000 for mid-year 2011, and 45,000 for mid-year 2012. If these figures are correct, then there are fewer U.S. citizens in the CNMI currently than reflected in the text.

3/ Our estimate of the unemployed includes those who may be employed illegally and therefore do not show up in our jobs surveys.

4/ American Samoa and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Employment, Earnings, and Status of Key Industries Since Minimum Wage Increases Began, GAO-11-427, June 2011, Government Accountability Office.

5/ The first category consists of aliens who were born in the Commonwealth between 1974 and 1978 and who did not get U.S. citizenship under a prior court decree covering this group. We estimate there are about 200 persons in this group. The second category consists of aliens who were granted permanent resident status by the CNMI government prior to 1981. We estimate there are 82 persons in this group. The third category consists of aliens who are the spouses and children of people in groups 1 and 2. We know of only 102 persons in this group, but there may be a few more.

6/ Our estimates in this regard are based on data with respect to live births and fertility rates, public and private school enrollments, ages and genders of aliens in the Commonwealth, umbrella permits, utilization of nutritional assistance programs, U.S. census estimates and projections, U.S. immigration laws and regulations, and other related data. LIDS data are not relevant for these purposes as those data record work assignments. Because the federal authorities do not collect data in the Commonwealth that is readily available for all states and most counties, we must rely on estimates. We anticipate that these estimates are on the low side.

7/ See section D(iii)(II).

8/ This is the reference to Title 3, Section 4303, which was deleted from the Commonwealth Code by P.L. 17-1. It no longer exists.

9/ See, for example, the following: Office of the Legislative Counsel, U.S. Senate, Legislative Drafting Manual (1997); Lawrence E. Filson, The Legislative Drafter’s Desk Reference (Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1992); Donald Hirsch, Drafting Federal Law, 2d Edition (U.S. Government Printing Office, 1989).

Turks & Caicos Islands civil servants fed up with UK interim administration

Civil servants blast ‘uncaring’ gov’t

Turks & Caicos Islands Sun

‘UNDERPAID and demotivated’ civil servants have launched a red-hot riposte against the “tunnel-visioned” and “uncaring” interim administration they say will bring the public service to its knees.Biting back at ongoing criticism of the ostensibly bloated sector, fed-up workers claim they are being barred from seeing official reports written on various ministries, despite repeated requests.

Read full article here .

Mau Mau torture claim Kenyans win right to sue British government

Four Kenyans allegedly tortured at hands of colonial officials during 1950s insurgency can pursue compensation, judge rules

Owen Bowcott
Legal Affairs Correspondent

Four elderly Kenyans who claim they were tortured by colonial officials and soldiers during the Mau Mau insurgency in the 1950s have won the right to sue the British government for compensation. Without deciding whether there had been systematic torture of detainees, the judge, Mr. Justice McCombe, ruled they have "arguable cases in law".

The decision is a setback for the Foreign Office, which has argued that the UK government should not be answerable for any abuses committed by the former British colony and that liability had devolved to the present Kenyan government.

Of the five original claimants, one has already died. The remaining four – Wambugu Wa Nyingi, Paulo Muoka Nzili, Ndiku Mutwiwa Mutua and Jane Muthoni Mara – are mostly in their 80s. They allege brutal treatment in detention camps, including castration and sexual assaults at the hands of British colonial officials and soldiers. Other detainees interned during the Mau Mau uprising, it is alleged, were murdered, forced into labour, starved and subjected to violence from guards. Among those allegedly abused was Barack Obama's grandfather.

Previously unseen evidence of atrocities emerged during the case when colonial-era files withheld from the National Archives were discovered by historians working with the claimants' lawyers.

In dismissing a Foreign Office application to strike out the legal action, McCombe said: "I have decided that these five claimants have arguable cases in law and on the facts as presently known, that there was such systematic torture and the UK government is so liable."

He described the UK authorities' attempts to avoid responsibility as "dishonourable" but accepted that before a full trial, the issue of whether the injuries were sustained too long ago – beyond any legal time limit – would have to be argued at a separate hearing.

"It may well be thought strange, or perhaps even 'dishonourable', that a legal system which will not in any circumstances admit evidence obtained by torture should yet refuse to entertain a claim against the government ... for that government's allegedly negligent failure to prevent torture which it had the means to prevent, on the basis of a supposed absence of a duty of care."

Elsewhere in the judgment he said: "There is ample evidence in the few papers that I have seen suggesting that there may have been systematic torture of detainees during the [Mau Mau] emergency.

"The [documents] evidencing the continuing abuses in the detention camps … are substantial, as is the evidence of the knowledge of both governments that they were happening and of the failure to take effective action to stop them."

The case has been supported by a large number of human rights groups and prominent international figures. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has urged the British government to deal with the Kenyan victims honourably, said: "Responding with generosity to the plea of the Kenyan victims is not a matter of legal niceties. No, it is about morality, about magnanimity and humaneness, about compassion."

Welcoming the judgment, Martyn Day of the solicitors Leigh Day and Co, which represented the Kenyan survivors, said: "It is an outrage that the British government is dealing with victims of torture so callously. We call on the British government to deal with these victims of torture with the dignity and respect they deserve, and to meet with them and their representatives in order to resolve the case amicably."

Day said that even if the next hearing ruled too much time had passed for a full trial, "a lot of the evidence about what happened will be put into the public domain and people will be able to judge for themselves".

The Foreign Office minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham, said: "We understand the pain and grievance felt by those on all sides who were involved in the divisive and bloody events of the emergency period in Kenya.

"The government will continue to defend fully these proceedings given the length of time elapsed and the complex legal and constitutional questions the case raises. Our relationship with Kenya and its people has moved on since the emergency period."

Mau Mau uprising

The Mau Mau uprising was a revolt mainly by the Kikuyu people in Kenya against British colonial rule. It was suppressed with brutal security measures, including the execution of more than 1,000 convicted rebels.
In response to the uprising, a formal state of emergency was declared that lasted from 1952 until 1960. British regiments were drafted in to support the local King's African Rifles.

In an attempt to control areas outside Nairobi, a policy of forced "villagisation" was introduced. By 1955, more than a million Kikuyu people had been removed from their homes and relocated inside barbed wire compounds that were patrolled by armed guards.

The officially accepted death toll for the period is around 11,000, but many historians suspect the true figures were far higher. The overwhelming majority of victims were native Kenyans rather than white settlers.

David Anderson, professor of African politics at Oxford University, has estimated the death toll to have been as high as 25,000; Caroline Elkins, of Harvard University, suggests it could have been up to 300,000.

The extent of the atrocities has begun to be acknowledged as colonial-era files, discovered in a government storage depot at Hanslope Park, in Buckinghamshire, have emerged. They are now in the process of being transferred to the National Archives.

Two of the techniques regularly used by security forces were "screening", or interrogation; and "dilution", the use of force to extract co-operation from suspects. In one camp, Hola, the beatings are believed to have left 11 detainees dead.

Ijahnya Of Anguilla to Lecture On Raising Pan-African Consciousness


Raising Pan-African Consciousness is the theme of a public lecture and slide presentation to be held in Anguilla and St. Martin during the month of August 2011.

The presentation will be made by Ms. Ijahnya Christian, who serves on the executive committee the Caribbean Pan-African Network, and who is the Caribbean Rastafari Organisation’s Liaison to the African Union in Addis Ababa.

According to the presenter, ‘Many people may ask what Africa has to do with our situation here in the Caribbean. The answer is that both Anguilla and St. Martin are very much part of the Pan-African world and if we organise ourselves along these lines, our societies could be more empowered economically and socially as well as culturally. It is said that knowledge is power so self-knowledge must mean more power. It is important for all people to be able to feel powerful in positive and creative ways so that negativity and destruction are minimised.

Since the Caribbean islands were identified by Marcus Garvey as having a critical role to play in African Redemption, Anguilla and St. Martin are excellent places to focus on re-educating and re-acculturating the people so that every young person can be empowered to participate meaningfully in the African Renaissance.’

The lecture will focus on a sample of Pan-African intellectuals and activists sharing their methods of organising for self-knowledge and power among people of African descent. These include Bob Marley, Walter Rodney and Marcus Garvey whose organising accomplishments remain a relevant blueprint for the 21st century.

In Anguilla, the presentation will be held at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 12 August at the Teachers’ Resource Centre Auditorium. In St. Martin the lecture/presentation will be coordinated by the Solidarity Rastafari Organisation and held at the We Agree With Culture Farm, in Belle Vue on Saturday 13th August at 7.00 p.m. Both events will begin on time.

Persons attending the lecture presentations are asked to bring along monetary contributions in support of the work of the Athlyi Rogers Diaspora Center which is being established in Ethiopia.