The chairwoman of the U.S. Pinoy for Good Governance Marianas Chapter defended her group against allegations that their petition will delay the passage of the comprehensive immigration bill in U.S. Congress.
“If has come to my attention that because of our petition to U.S. Congress, there are comments that this will delay the passage of the immigration bill. It’s not true. The U.S. House is in recess for the month of August. They are taking the step-by-step approach to the immigration bill. And this is just the right time that we have submitted our petition. If I did not initiate this petition, definitely, if they passed the immigration bill in the House, the groups of people included in this petition and the proposed amendments will not be known to Congress,” said Dr. Celia Lamkin, USP4GG Marianas Chapter chair.
The U.S. Senate already passed its version of the comprehensive immigration bill a couple of months back, which will give a pathway to citizenship to the roughly 11 million undocumented aliens in the U.S. mainland.
USP4GG wants the U.S. House of Representatives to amend the CNMI provision in S. 744 (Section 2109) to include undocumented aliens in the Commonwealth as well.
Lamkin said Sunday that more than 2,000 people have already signed the petition—both online and the paper form that were circulated on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The petition was addressed to House Speaker John Boehner and other U.S. House representatives.
“I have talked to their immigration staffers, legislative director, and adviser and confirmed the receipt of the petition. I had the opportunity to discuss the petition and details of the situation of the undocumented immigrants who are not included in the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Section 2109 of S744 is a special provision for CNMI only for those who are legally working. It does not include the undocumented. The numbers of undocumented in the CNMI are probably a couple of thousands compared to millions in the U.S. I also mentioned the children of these foreign workers who were brought legally to the CNMI as dependents under the CNMI immigration who are now undocumented and some are eligible for DACA [Deferred Action of Childhood Arrivals],” said Lamkin.
She mentioned to the legislative staffers that most of the undocumented immigrants in the CNMI arrived as legal workers, and worked for as long as 25 years or more, but because of the closure of the garment factories, the CNMI economy declined resulting in unemployment and eventual loss of lawful status.
“But these undocumented workers are skilled, some may be professionals, and are talented and hardworking and they can contribute to the economy of the CNMI and U.S. I told them the difference in the undocumented in the CNMI and in the US.”