Deadline on HR 559 looms; still no regs

Posted on Dec 06 2019


Nearly 180 days after the enactment of H.R. 559—the legislation that gave CNMI residency to over 1,000 eligible parolees—there’s still no regulation governing the new law that would allow those affected to start applying for CNMI residency.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is required to come up with those regulations but, according to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP), that has yet to happen.

This legislation, now known as Public Law 116-24, affects a total of 1,039 parolees who received long-term humanitarian parole.

“…[Acting] secretary of Homeland Security [Chad Wolf] was legally required to have issued regulations by this week. He has not,” Sablan told Saipan Tribune when asked for updates on the regulations.

P.L. 116-24, among other things, mandates the Department of Homeland Security to come up within six months, or 180 days, the step-by-step process of how aliens who are eligible to apply for CNMI-only resident status could start the process for applying for that status. The bill was enacted on June 26, 2019. That means DHS has up to the end of December to come out with the regulations.

P.L. 116-24 took almost five months of efforts to pass the U.S. Congress and enacted by Trump.

P.L. 116-24 applies to all immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other stateless individuals, CNMI permanent residents and their IRs, IRs of citizens of Freely Associated States (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau), and certain in-home caregivers of CNMI residents.

Sablan introduced the legislation last Jan. 15 and it passed the U.S. House of Representatives on June 3, 2019. The Senate passed it on June 24, 2019, and was enacted by Trump two days later.

Itos Feliciano, one of the 1,039 parolees, told Saipan Tribune in an interview that although he remains unworried, he would prefer to have the regulations sooner than later.

Feliciano told Saipan Tribune that he had successfully applied for a re-parole, which would be valid until mid-2020, but the main kicker is that applying for an Employment Authorization Document, was a bit pricey.

“We pay for the EAD and when the regulations come out, we would then have to pay for the residency fees. We’d have to pay more than we need to,” he said.

According to Feliciano, he had to pay $498 for an EAD.

“That is our permission to work. If the new residency regulations come out and the EAD is still valid for several months, then it’s a waste of money,” he added.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.

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