Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (D-MP) said an executive order signed by President Donald Trump involving the parole authority is a huge concern for the CNMI, most especially for the islands’ growing Chinese tourism market.
In 2009, the Obama administration entered into a parole system with Chinese and Russian visitors where they could enter the CNMI visa free. Tourists from Japan and Korea also enjoy visa-free travel to the CNMI but under the visa waiver program.
Chinese visitors account for more than 30 percent of the CNMI’s tourism market well within the goal set by Commonwealth officials. Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, in his State of the Commonwealth Address last month, said their goal is to have a 30 percent share each from the Chinese, Japanese, and Korean markets.
Sablan supported Torres saying that the growing Chinese tourism market is important to the CNMI’s economy. “But President Trump’s [EO] directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to review the legality of the parole used by the previous administration.”
Trump signed an EO to improve immigration enforcement and border security on Jan. 25, 2017, and Sablan believes this could hurt the CNMI’s tourism industry.
Sablan said he thanked Torres for informing Trump of the CNMI’s current situation. Torres met with Trump on April 4. “Gov. Torres made the economic case for continuing parole directly with President Trump—the first time, I believe, a Marianas governor has met a President in the Oval Office.”
“Afterwards, the governor called and I congratulated his success at raising this issue to the highest level.”
Sablan added that he also met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly to also inform him on what Torres raised to Trump.
“Also about the importance of Chinese tourism to the Marianas, and about the misuse of CW permits, which the governor and I raised in our letter of March 16. I look forward to continuing to work together with the Governor on these important issues.”
The growing concern on the China parole authority is also brought about on the issue of more than 1,000 Chinese tourists who entered the CNMI but worked illegally. Rep. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) has introduced House Bill 20-57 in the CNMI Legislature that seeks to penalize companies that bring in foreign workers illegally.
MD: Trump executive order concern for NMI