On the heels of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' Thanksgiving announcement that they will consider extending by up to two years, on a case-by-case basis, the parole of immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, a workers' group is also asking USCIS to grant parole to nonresidents who are now “out of status” because of poor economic conditions.
“These workers came here legally and they had lawful status when the federal government took over CNMI immigration in 2009. Why is there no immigration remedy granted to them, only because they don't have U.S. citizen children?” United Workers Movement-NMI president Rabby Syed told Saipan Tribune in a phone call from New York yesterday.
The Fitial administration has grave concerns about USCIS' two-year parole extension, but there's no telling yet whether the governor would tangle with USCIS over this decision.
The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens whose expiring parole will be considered for a two-year extension are covered in Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan's (Ind-MP) H.R. 1466. Many of these nonresidents lost their jobs in recent years and months as the economy shrunk.
Syed said that long-term nonresidents without U.S. citizen children who lost their jobs because of the local economy's slowdown are at a disadvantage because they do not have the same parole protection.
“These aliens are also qualified to have CW [Commonwealth-only worker] permits but right now they can't find a job and are already out of status. On behalf of the United Workers Movement, I ask USCIS or DHS [Department of Homeland Security] to grant parole to all aliens who are out of status because of the economy,” he said.
Syed, however, has yet to write a formal request letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano as of yesterday.
But he said he will also be working with labor unions and other private entities and congressional offices on the U.S. mainland to “inform them of the situation in the CNMI.”
“President Obama said that when he was re-elected that there will be immigration reform. We hope they will consider granting green card [or a] pathway to citizenship to long-term aliens in the CNMI. The CNMI is different because these alien workers entered the CNMI legally,” he said.
Sablan said legislation in Congress has been developed over time that has a “place holder” specific to the CNMI, although there's no information yet on the specific proposal for the CNMI's foreign workers.
Press secretary Angel Demapan earlier said it is still unclear why USCIS would take action proceeded on the basis that a new law would come into effect, referring to the two-year parole extension consideration for those covered by Sablan's HR 1466.
“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,” he added.