Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) is expecting action on his legislation that proposes to give residency status to foreign workers in the Commonwealth who are considered long term.
Sablan told Saipan Tribune in an email late Saturday evening that his legislation, H.R. 560, is set for a markup at the U.S. Congress Natural Resources Committee, which he vice chairs, this week.
To markup a bill indicates the start of discussions on possible actions or inactions on a specific legislation.
Sablan did not immediately comment when asked about his outlook on the bill.
In an email blast through his weekly newsletter, Sablan said there are about 2,875 workers and 56 investors that would benefit from the bill. The numbers are according to testimony from the Government Accountability Office at the hearing held on the bill last February.
Originally, H.R. 560 also covered immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other groups, who had been granted humanitarian parole by the Obama administration. The Trump administration ended that program last year, but Sablan 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,” he said in the e-newsletter.
In a previous statement, Sablan told Saipan Tribune that the legislation at the time lacked support from the Trump administration. He did not state whether this stance has changed and the bill would be supported by the Trump administration if it comes out of the committee level and on to the U.S. House floor.
Section 2 (Long-term legal residents of the CNMI) subsection B (Aliens Described), paragraph v (in addition), subparagraphs I to VI states 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 November 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 Commonwealth-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).”
A permanent resident can freely enter and remain in the CNMI. However, remaining outside of the U.S.—or the CNMI in the legislation’s case—for more than 12 months may result in losing permanent residency status.