Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) says he applauds the recent promotion of Alejandro Mayorkas to be Deputy Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security. Mayorkas previously served as Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and has had a critical, decision-making role in the transition to federal management of immigration in the Northern Marianas. He was sworn in as Deputy Secretary on Dec. 23.
“I congratulate Mr. Mayorkas on his nomination by the President and applaud the Senate for agreeing to fill this top leadership position at the Department of Homeland Security with someone who understands the challenges facing the Northern Mariana Islands,” said Sablan. “I also extend my deepest appreciation to Mr. Mayorkas for all he has done as USCIS director over the last five years to help make the immigration transition as least difficult as possible.”
Mayorkas played a critical role in the decision to extend humanitarian parole to persons who were born in the Northern Marianas between 1974 and 1978 but who did not have U.S. citizenship, to persons with Northern Marianas Permanent Resident status and their immediate relatives, and to the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. People in these situations previously had legal status under Commonwealth immigration law.
The parole policy Mayorkas approved allowed these individuals the opportunity to remain and work in the Northern Marianas legally. Without parole they would have been forced to leave the after Nov. 28, 2011.
“Director Mayorkas called me personally on Thanksgiving Day in 2011 to tell me about that decision,” Sablan said. “I thought of all the families I had knew, who were facing separation until that moment. It is a Thanksgiving Day I will always remember.”
Originally, the parole for these people was to be available through the end of 2012. At Sablan’s request, however, Mayorkas later provided a two-year extension of the parole eligibility.
Protection for caregivers
Mayorkas can also be credited for the parole policy for caregivers in the Northern Marianas.
Under local immigration law, families had been able to employ in-house caregivers to tend to older parents or to younger family members with disabilities. But the federal regulations on foreign workers issued in September 2011 did not provide any immigration status for these caregivers.
Sablan arranged for USCIS officials from Washington and from the Honolulu regional office to meet with him and some of the caregiver families in the Saipan congressional office in September.
That face-to-face meeting had an impact. One month later Mayorkas announced that caregivers, too, would be eligible for humanitarian parole.
“The Northern Mariana Islands could not ask for anyone more knowledgeable about our immigration issues or more compassionate in executing the law of the land to serve as second in command at Homeland Security than Alejandro Mayorkas. I wish him every success in his new role.” (PR)