Kilili and USCIS agree to work on legislative fix
Humanitarian parole for the spouses and parents of U.S. citizens in the Marianas, immediate relatives of citizens of the Freely Associated State, certain stateless individuals and persons with permanent resident status, and in-home caregivers can be extended until June 29, 2019.
The parole policies covering these groups, begun during the Obama administration, end on Dec. 31, 2018. But in a letter to Delegate Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Ind-MP) today USCIS Director L. Frances Cissna said there would be a 180-day transition period. Those now on parole could apply to stay in the Marianas during the transition. They could be granted work authorization and could use the extra time to look for some other immigration status or arrange to leave the Marianas. Sablan and Cissna also spoke by phone regarding the new transitional policy.
“I want to thank Director Cissna for granting this temporary reprieve for the 1,500 or so who currently have humanitarian parole,” Sablan said. “It is not automatic. The extension must be applied for. And the director said, so far, they have only received about 500 applications. So, I encourage anyone who has parole now to move quickly to get an extension.
“Of course, I would have preferred for USCIS to continue the humanitarian parole system for another two-year period, as the Obama administration did in 2012, 2014, and 2016. I recognize, however, that the Trump administration does not think that parole should be applied to a large category of people. It is meant to be applied strictly on an individual, case-by-case basis.”
President Trump issued an Executive Order on Jan. 25, 2017, requiring the Secretary of Homeland Security to “take appropriation action to ensure that parole authority … is exercised only on a case-by-case basis … and only when an individual demonstrates urgent humanitarian reasons or a significant public benefit derived from such parole.”
Cissna cited the Executive Order in his letter to Sablan. “Pursuant to this E.O., I have conducted a review of USCIS categorical parole programs. As part of that review, I considered the CNMI categorical parole programs, and determined that these programs represent a broader implementation of the parole statute than is appropriate.
“Therefore, I am terminating USCIS CNMI categorical parole programs, including the program for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and certain stateless persons present in the CNMI. My decision also includes the categorical parole programs for CNMI permanent residents, immediate relatives of CNMI permanent residents, immediate relatives of citizens of the Freely Associated States (Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Palau), and certain in-home foreign worker caregivers of CNMI residents.”
Cissna added that his decision “does not preclude individuals paroled under this program from seeking parole on a case-by-case basis if the applicant demonstrates an urgent humanitarian or a significant public benefit reason for parole and that the applicant merits a favorable exercise of discretion.”
Cissna also offered in his letter to provide technical assistance in drafting legislation that would give those now on parole some permanent status. He repeated the offer in the phone call with Sablan; and the two agreed to get to work immediately. Permanent status for immediate relatives and other groups, who were not accounted for when the Consolidated Natural Resources Act extended federal immigration to the Marianas, is a long-standing goal for Sablan. He also has introduced legislation that provides a pathway to permanent status for long-term workers and investors.
Instructions for applying for parole during the 180-day transition period are available on the USCIS website: https://www.uscis.gov/news/alerts/termination-categorical-parole-programs-certain-individuals-present-commonwealth-northern-mariana-islands-cnmi. (PR)