Bordallo highlights war claims & plebiscite in congressional addressWritten by Rebecca Elmore
Guam - Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo delivered her 10th congressional address to the island on the very same ground where she began her career in public service. This year, Bordallo’s annual report highlighted the passage of milestone legislation for war reparations as well as legislative measures she plans to introduce.
“I am pleased to report directly to the people of Guam that war claims has finally passed the US congress and is now law,” Bordallo announced, adding that this law will provide war reparations for Guam’s “greatest generation.”
Eligible applicants include living survivors or their heirs. Each one will have about a year from June 20, 2017 to file a claim directly with the Department of Justice Foreign Claims Settlement and Commission.
But even Madeleine Bordallo admits that moving forward has not come without a few setbacks.
“The nearly 100% denial rate of H-2B visas has slammed the breaks on progress at every level in our community,” she said.
With the immense strain from the H-2B Visa crisis, Bordallo shares Governor Eddie Calvo’s view that the “civilian community should not be disproportionately affected” by the military buildup, but champions instead for long-term legislation over enjoined lawsuits.
“Undermining the build-up at this stage will only weaken our ability to influence discussions made by the federal agencies,” she shared.
Instead, Bordallo is opting to introduce a “unique” immigration program to address the labor shortage that goes beyond the military buildup, but to include civilian enclaves like the health care and hospitality industries.
And while Bordallo resolved to address our labor workforce woes, she also plans to bolster our island’s economy by extending Social Security to GovGuam employees. With legislation aimed to address long-wait times for tourist arrivals, Bordallo hopes the island will continue to expand our visa waiver program to attract a wider tourist demographic.
With the ever-growing concern on North Korea’s increased military activity, Bordallo reiterated her support for veterans and our armed forces.
“This past weekend’s failed missile test and the escalating rhetoric is destabilizing to our security and that of our allies,” she stated. Last weekend, North Korea launched a missile in a show of force to the international community. The missile's launch, although a failure, was enough cause for concern. The increased threats emerging from North Korea was part of the catalyst for the installation of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile on the island.
Before concluding her address, Congresswoman Bordallo solidified her stance for the controversial plebiscite, adding:
“I recognize the deep passions that this issue raises with our people across the political spectrum, and rightfully so as this vote will hold a special significance for our Chamorro people," she said.
The recent federal ruling on the Davis lawsuit concerning Guam's de-colonization registry has prompted several of our island's leaders to voice their opinion on the contentious plebiscite, and Congresswoman Bordallo was no different, saying, "Although I have made Guam my home for nearly 70 years, for me personally, I recognize that I would not have been able to vote when our Chamorro people would have exercised that right, but I believe it is appropriate that they do so after so many years of being disenfranchised.”
However, the Congresswoman cautions the island to resolve issues as a community before relying on federal courts to resolve our island's issues.
"Let us chart a forward course in a way where the views of the Chamorro people are respected and the voices of all Guam’s residents are heard," she said.