Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i


Re-Elected NMI Congressman To Focus On Immigration
Kilili says territory can’t afford to lose more people

By Haidee V. Eugenio

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Nov. 9, 2012) – Re-elected President Barack Obama's focus on immigration reform is resonating well with re-elected Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) who said yesterday that the immigration status of long-term foreign workers in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) will continue to be on his agenda in the 113th Congress, including the reintroduction of a "more fair" or a "broader" version of his H.R. 1466.

HR 1466 seeks a grant of CNMI-only resident status to four groups of non-U.S. citizens on the islands, including foreign parents of minor U.S. citizen children.

Sablan said Obama cited three top policy issues, including comprehensive immigration reform.

"A legislation that's been developed over time has in there a 'place holder' that's specific to the Northern Marianas," Sablan said in a news briefing in his office in Susupe yesterday afternoon.

Sablan did not give specific details as to the content of that immigration proposal for the CNMI.

"We'll see. I'm hoping it would be something that's more fair," he said, adding that he would again communicate with the stakeholders including the business community as well as get a feel of the Obama administration's plan.

Sablan is an independent caucusing with Democrats in Congress.

Bonifacio Sagana, president of Dekada Movement, separately said yesterday that his group would like to request Sablan to revise HR 1466 to include more individuals or introduce a bill that would grant permanent residency or "green card" to lawful long-term foreign workers in the CNMI.

"Since the beginning, we have been asking for improved status under U.S. law for long-term, legal alien workers in the CNMI, those who have been here at least five years," Sagana told Saipan Tribune.

Sablan, who won a landslide victory in Tuesday's mid-term elections, said he will also seek every opportunity to attach his bill to any moving immigration or justice bill in Congress.

"1466 may not be able to pass on its own but we'll find a moving legislation that's moving forward and insert that in there," he said.

HR 1466 seeks a grant of CNMI-only resident status to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens as of May 8, 2008, and continuing to be on the islands; CNMI permanent residents; those born in the CNMI between Jan. 1, 1974, and Jan. 9, 1978; and spouses, parents, or children of U.S. citizens under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Foreign worker groups also asked Sablan earlier whether HR 1466 could be amended to include long-term alien workers who do not have U.S. citizen children.

"We got a population of 53,000. We can't send away any more people. It's really bad for the economy. The less people we have here, the more difficult the economy is," Sablan added.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services granted parole in place to those covered by HR 1466 including foreign parents of U.S. citizen children, but those parole in place will expire on Dec. 31, 2012. USCIS has yet to make an announcement whether those paroles in place would be extended beyond 2012, until HR 1466 or similar legislation is acted on by Congress.

Sablan said he would also reintroduce a CNMI submerged lands bill, a Rota national park bill, and a Tinian annex bill, and will continue to prioritize education and health during the next Congress. His third two-year term begins in January 2103.

Saipan Tribune http://www.saipantribune.com
Copyright 2012 Saipan Tribune. All Rights Reserved


Go back to Pacific Islands Report