ICE looking at securing additional holding cells


A representative of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the House of Representatives last Friday that his division wants to secure more holding cells for illegal aliens in the CNMI.

In a meet-and-greet with members of the Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, Patrick McCallion, a member of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said his division is seeking to secure funding for this purpose.

While not permitted to speak to reporters, McCallion told committee members led by Rep. Gregorio M. Sablan Jr. (R-Saipan) that an agreement has already been reached between his division and CNMI court marshals. All that is left is to secure the funds.

The setup is that illegal aliens would either be removed or detained in Guam.

“We have been removing people [from the CNMI] on a weekly basis,” he told the committee.

He assured the committee that the additional holding quarters should be secured in the second quarter of 2018.

Sablan described the meeting with ICE as “very beneficial.”

“[The representative] has been very informative on what ICE is trying to do to prevent overstaying aliens in the CNMI,” he said.

The meeting arose out of Rep. Ivan A. Blanco’s (R-Saipan) House Resolution 20-09, which encourages Gov. Ralph DLG Torres to support shortening the length of stay of to tourists who enter the CNMI through the Guam-CNMI visa-waiver program. Countries under this program include Russia and China.

H.R. 20-09 pushes reducing the 45-day window for Russian and Chinese tourists to about 10 to 15 days.

“We look forward to not only get information on what is being done to lessen the number of overstaying aliens but at the same time know what kind of assistance we could offer,” said Sablan. He added that it was the position of the committee to support and cooperate with ICE in order to lessen the number of overstaying aliens.

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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