The Northern Marianas Descent Corp. has sought a meeting with Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) on a U.S. Senate bill, S. 744, which provides a pathway to citizenship to some 11 million illegal immigrants in the U.S. and to thousands of legal, long-term foreign workers in the CNMI.
This, even as the U.S. House also introduced its own version of a national immigration reform, H.R. 15, containing CNMI-specific provisions similar to S. 744.
NMD Corp. president Ana S. Teregeyo, in a letter to Sablan, said S. 744 affects the indigenous people of the CNMI and they want to clarify what these effects are.
NMD Corp. also reiterated its earlier position that S. 744 infringes on the NMI’s Covenant agreement with the United States, “pertaining to the rights and benefits of the indigenous population.”
“This proposed meeting will help enlighten the NMD Corp. which represents and advocates for the indigenous of the Northern Marianas, on what benefits S. 744, Section 2109, will provide should the 13,000-plus nonresident workers throughout the Northern Marianas be allowed to become U.S. citizens,” Teregeyo said in her two-page letter delivered yesterday to Sablan’s office.
It’s not known as of yesterday whether Sablan will be meeting with the group, which asked for the meeting be held within the next seven days.
Both the U.S. Senate and House bills include provisions specific to the CNMI to ensure that people who were protected under Commonwealth immigration law remain protected under federal law.
“So someone who was born in the Northern Marianas before 1978, or who became a permanent resident under CNMI law, or is part of a U.S.-citizen family, will be able to remain in the Northern Marianas—just as we permitted under our own local law. These residents will be able to work and travel and after five years apply for a green card under the bill passed by the U.S. Senate and under the new House bill. Without that, their fate would be uncertain,” the delegate had said.
The bills also allow workers who have lived in the CNMI since before 2003 to continue to stay and work. After an additional five years contributing to the CNMI, they can apply to be a U.S. permanent resident, if they want to.
“That’s fair and it’s good for our economy,” Sablan said, adding that S. 744 and H.R. 15 fix problems for businesses and the CNMI economy that were created when federal immigration came to the islands.