Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said he remains committed to keeping families together and protecting the CNMI economy in the wake of Rep. Felicidad Ogumoro’s (R-Saipan) introduction of a resolution asking the U.S. House of Representatives to “hold indefinitely” any action on S. 744’s provision giving long-term foreigners and their families in the CNMI a chance to apply for an improved status “and similar legislation.”
Sablan, whose efforts helped a CNMI-specific provision on S. 744, said he has not seen Ogumoro’s resolution.
“But I remain committed to keeping families together and to protecting the Northern Mariana Islands’ economy with policies such as those which I had included in the comprehensive immigration bill that the U.S. Senate has already passed and which have bipartisan support in the House,” the delegate told Saipan Tribune.
Ogumoro said Thursday that S. 744’s Section 2109 violates the Covenant that established the relationship between the Northern Marianas and the United States.
She also asked the U.S. House not to act on similar legislation “which will allow thousands of alien workers, their families and persons of other ethnic origin or race who are in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to become U.S. permanent residents and subsequently become U.S. citizen.” See Ogumoro’s speech on Page 13
S. 744 is a U.S.-Senate passed comprehensive immigration reform bill that provides pathway to citizenship to some 11 million undocumented aliens in the United States.
The U.S. House of Representatives has not acted on S. 744 yet nor introduced its own sweeping immigration reform bill.
The bill’s Section 2109, at Sablan’s request, provides a pathway to U.S. permanent residency and citizenship for thousands of long-term alien workers in the CNMI.
During Thursday afternoon’s session, Ogumoro delivered a one-page speech while introducing her resolution.
She said Section 2109 of S. 744 particularly violates Section 103 of the Covenant which reads, “The people of the Northern Mariana Islands will have the right of local self-government, and will govern themselves with respect to internal affairs in accordance with a constitution of their own adoption.”
CNMI immigration is now under federal control.
Bonifacio Sagana, president of Dekada Movement, said many in the community support not only continued access to skilled and professional foreign workers but also improved status for long-term foreign workers.
Sagana said the Saipan Chamber of Commerce, the new administration and other sectors support S. 744’s CNMI-specific provision.
“I would think that the representative is using this for her re-election once again. Maybe she thinks this will give her votes. But people now have a better and broader understanding of the CNMI economy’s needs and the future of the CNMI,” Sagana said.
Sagana added that while the United States is gearing toward providing pathway to citizenship to some 11 million undocumented aliens on the mainland, Ogumoro would not support improving the lot of legal, long-term aliens in the CNMI.
House Speaker Joseph Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) referred Ogumoro’s resolution to the Committee on Foreign and Federal Relations for review.
Ogumoro, in her speech, said Section 2109 of S. 744 will have a devastating effect on the Chamorros and Carolinians of Northern Marianas descent, “who have always aspired to maintain their autonomy and be self-governing, a right that is guaranteed and protected under the Covenant.”
“This section will change and disrupt the social, political and economic livelihood and aspirations of the Chamorros and Carolinians. They will lose control of that right to govern themselves, becoming marginalized in the process. The Chamorros and Carolinians will become a powerless minority in their own native land,” she added.
So far, Ogumoro’s resolution has these co-sponsors: Reps. Antonio Agulto (Ind-Saipan), Roman Benavente (Ind-Saipan), Janet Maratita (Ind-Saipan), John Paul Sablan (Cov-Saipan), Richard Seman (R-Saipan), Tony Benavente (Ind-Saipan), George Camacho (R-Saipan), Larry Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Christopher Leon Guerrero (Cov-Saipan), Mario Taitano (Ind-Saipan), and Ray Tebuteb (Ind-Saipan).