BREAKING NEWS

Extension sought for 1,000-plus expiring paroles-in-place for IRs

USCIS says 1,102 paroles-in-place for US citizen IRs granted

Most of the more than 1,000 paroles-in-place granted to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are expiring in six months. This early, some parents who are still having difficulty finding jobs are asking the federal government for another extension that they hope would also be up to 2019, similar to the CW program.

This parole allows immediate relatives of U.S. citizens to remain lawfully in the CNMI. It does not authorize employment, though.

“My son has yet to graduate from high school. I would like to at least see him graduate and enter the U.S. military so I am asking the U.S. government to extend the IR [immediate relative] parole,” 56-year-old Violy Dawana told Saipan Tribune yesterday.

Without a parole extension, she might have to leave her son in the care of friends and family on Saipan to ensure her son completes high school. Like many others, Dawana unsuccessfully sought for a new employer since at least 2012, which would have allowed her to obtain a different immigration status such as a CW permit.

Dawana is just among the estimated 1,000 or so holders of paroles-in-place for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, mostly still minors, in the CNMI. She had hoped that by now, long-term legal foreign workers like her who lost their job when the local economy tanked would have been granted a permanent status.

To date, the U.S. government has not indicated extending the paroles-in-place for U.S. citizens’ immediate relatives beyond 2014.

“Just when the economy is getting better and more jobs are opening up, our paroles are expiring. Even if we obtain an EAD [employment authorization document] now, it would still expire in December,” said another parole-in-place holder, whose U.S. citizen child is only 8 years old.

The 42-year-old single mother said that, without a parole extension, she would be forced to bring the child with her when she goes home but that means her child will lose certain privileges of being a U.S. citizen such as free public education.

Marie Thérèse Sebrechts, USCIS supervisory public affairs officer, said USCIS has granted 1,102 paroles-in-place to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

All current paroles were extended or granted up to Dec. 31, 2014.

“We can, of course, not speculate on any future decisions. Yes, the number of requests has declined this year. As has been stressed throughout the transition, USCIS encourages foreign nationals who wish to remain in the CNMI to obtain another status, if eligible,” Sebrechts said.

On Nov. 21, 2012, USCIS Director Alejandro N. Mayorkas, in a letter to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), announced that USCIS may grant “two-year extensions to individuals who have been granted parole under the current immediate relative parole policy and who, based on a case-by-case review of their request for extension, continue to warrant the favorable exercise of discretion.”

At the time, Mayorkas said the U.S. Department of Homeland Security recognizes Sablan’s H.R. 1466, which would provide a path to lawful permanent residence for most individuals covered by the parole policy. H.R. 1466 wasn’t enacted into law.

Sablan later worked to insert a CNMI provision in two national immigration reform bills, S. 744 and HR 15. S. 744 passed the Senate but has yet to pass the GOP-controlled House.

Rene Reyes, founding president of Marianas Advocates for Humanitarian Affairs Ltd., said yesterday that the paroles-in-place for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens “should be extended.”

“Most of these IR parole holders were professional workers and became victims of labor abuses and economic downturn. These are parents of U.S. kids who attended schools and trained individuals to take over CW jobs in 2019, and contributors to the CNMI economy,” he said.

When USCIS decided to grant an extension that will allow these individuals to lawfully remain in the CNMI, the expectations are that they do not violate immigration laws, and to apply for extensions of employment (if previously granted), or an initial grant of employment authorization.

Parolees authorized to work must apply separately for an extension of their work authorization and will need to submit approved parole extension with request.

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Haidee V. Eugenio | Reporter
Haidee V. Eugenio has covered politics, immigration, business and a host of other news beats as a longtime journalist in the CNMI, and is a recipient of professional awards and commendations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental achievement award for her environmental reporting. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines Diliman.

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