20 Jul 2007

Foreigners in CNMI petition US Congress for more rights

1:18 pm on 20 July 2007

About 3,000 foreign workers on Saipan have signed a petition to the US Congress calling for federalisation of immigration control in the Northern Mariana Islands.

The Human Dignity Act Movement plans to present the petition to the Congress where a Senate committee is holding a hearing tomorrow on a bill that would federalise the Commonwealth's immigration control.

The petitioners say they have lived and worked in the community for up to 20 or more years after being invited there to work.

For years, they say, non-resident workers have had an insecure status, being on the islands only as indentured servants.

The group says many of them have been victims of illegal recruitment and labour and human rights abuses.

Many of them had labour cases that have never been resolved, back wages never recovered, and criminal acts never prosecuted.

They urge Congress to pass legislation that would federalise immigration and help them achieve the stability and United States citizenship they deserve.