Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) expects to see action at the committee level on his bill that proposes to grant permanent resident status to foreign workers who have been in the CNMI for a long time.
“Action is scheduled in the House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday for H.R. 560, my bill providing permanent status in the Marianas for long-term workers and investors,” said Sablan yesterday.
Since Washington, D.C. is delayed by one day compared to CNMI time, that means the committee will take up the bill on Thursday in the CNMI.
About 2,875 workers and 56 investors are eligible for the special status provided in H.R. 560, according to the Government Accountability Office during a hearing on the legislation in February 2019.
The legislation originally included immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other groups who had been granted humanitarian parole during the Obama administration. However, the Trump administration ended the program last year.
“…I was able to get separate legislation enacted in June, giving the 1,039 parolees permanent status. Now I want to do the same for long-term workers and for investors, who originally came in under Marianas immigration law. Giving these workers permanent status will help to stabilize the labor situation in the Marianas. And permanent status for investors will encourage them to keep their businesses in our islands,” Sablan noted in yesterday’s announcement.
As of 7pm last night, H.R. 560 was among in the 16 bills listed for the full committee’s markup or legislative action. The legislation hopes to give workers under the CNMI-only Transitional Program, or CW-1 program, permanent resident status only for the CNMI.
A permanent resident can freely enter and remain in the CNMI.
Section 2 (Long-term legal residents of the CNMI) subsection B (Aliens Described), paragraph v (in addition), subparagraphs I to VI states that those who are qualified for CNMI-Only permanent residency status are those who are: (I) was born in the Northern Mariana Islands between Jan. 1, 1974, and Jan. 9, 1978; (II) was, on Nov. 27, 2009, a permanent resident of the Commonwealth (as defined in section 4303 of title 3 of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code, in effect on May 8, 2008); (III) is the spouse or child (as defined in section 101(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(1))) of an alien described in subclause (I) or (II); (IV) was, on Nov. 27, 2011, a spouse, child, or parent of a United States citizen, notwithstanding the age of the United States citizen, and continues to have such family relationship with the citizen on the date of the application described in subparagraph (A); (V) had a grant of parole under section 212(d)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)) on Dec. 31, 2018, under the former parole program for certain in-home caregivers administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; “(VI) was admitted to the Commonwealth as a CNMI-Only Transitional Worker during fiscal year 2015, and during every subsequent fiscal year beginning before the date of the enactment of the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018 (Public Law 115–218); (VII) resided in the Northern Mariana Islands as an investor under Commonwealth immigration law, and is presently resident under E–2 CNMI Investor Status (E2C).”