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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

CNMI Administration Skeptical Of 2-Year Parole Extension
Decision allegedly assumes resident status bill will pass

By Emmanuel T. Erediano

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, Nov. 27, 2012) – The Fitial administration is not convinced that it’s "practical" to grant a two-year parole extension to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Press Secretary Angel A. Demapan told Variety yesterday that while the administration recognizes that the intent of U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision "was premised on keeping immediate relatives in the commonwealth legally, the administration is not convinced that it is in any way practical to implement a parole of this nature based only on an assumption that a pending bill would become law."

He is referring to U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan’s bill that will grant CNMI-only status to CNMI permanent residents and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

In reaction to the plea of United Workers Movement president Rabby Syed that all nonresidents, even those who no longer have status be given the same parole extension, Demapan asked: "On what grounds?"

The issuance of parole, he said, is a policy decision that needs to be made on behalf of the U.S. government, "and I would like to know on what ground will such a decision be made," Demapan said, referring to Syed’s request.

Issuing a parole extension to everybody, Demapan said, "is not as simple as people make it sound like."

Before the implementation of the federalization law on Nov. 28, 2009, the Fitial administration granted nonresidents a two-year umbrella permit. The governor, who opposes federalization, prefers a return to CNMI immigration law, which granted legal status to immediate relatives to U.S. citizens.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas last week announced the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to grant the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens a two-year parole extension.

Demapan said the position of the administration is "that decisions made today must be made consistent with the laws of today."

He added: "It is still unclear why USCIS would take action proceeded on the basis that a new law would come into effect. In this case, not only did ‘tomorrow’ not come, but there seems a low likelihood that a law proposing a large influx of individuals who would otherwise not be permitted to enter U.S. soil will be passed."

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