I’m walking down the street in Queens, New York, minding my own business….whistling a happy tune. I was on my way back from paying my utility bill. Usually, I would pay my bill online to avoid the lines, but decided to do things differently this time. So, like I said, here I am on a random street in New York City, a city I hadn’t planned on spending too much time in, a city that is home to 9 million people and other forms of interesting life, strolling at a random hour in the middle of the day, 8 thousand miles away from a little Pacific island I’ve called home for the past 6 years, and when I reach the corner of the block close to my apartment, I look up, and lo and behold, whom should I see walking perpendicular to my path, but Rabby Syed!
Who’s Rabby Syed, you ask? Why, shame on you! Rabby Syed is a business owner, activist and all-around nice guy who lives on Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands! I did a Saipan Tribune interview with Rabby a few months back when I was on Saipan.
We documented our fateful, fortuitous and fascinating meeting at the corner of 89th avenue, walked around town introducing him to things New York, and even took him to my favorite health food store, Queens Health Emporium where he encountered mock meats for the first time!
Rabby is actually here for serious business. Despite Newt Gingrich’s statements to the contrary regarding US policy when it comes to legal immigrants in the US, the contract workers on the island of Saipan are actually getting the short end of the stick as far as rights, and families are indeed being split apart by the recent takeover of Saipan’s immigration by the United States. Rabby is here–on his own limited funds and resources– to get the word out about what is happening on Saipan.
There are many terms and vocabulary related to status and permits that may not be familiar to those outside Saipan. However, those interested in understanding what is happening, may visit the Saipan Tribune website and search for the articles by lawyers Maya Kara and Bruce Mailman by searching for “lexmarianas.”
Meanwhile, Rabby, welcome to Jamaica….um, Queens!