Mother’s court battle to be with 2 kids continues


Amalia Abo Guanlao, a Filipino mother who has been fighting a legal battle since 2013 just to be with her two minor U.S. children, is bringing her case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Guanlao, through counsel Rosemond B. Santos, has notified the U.S. District Court for the NMI Tuesday of her appeal to the Ninth Circuit.

According to Santos, Guanlao is specifically appealing to reverse the District Court’s ruling issued last June 19 that dismissed Guanlao’s petition for habeas corpus.

In her petition for a writ of habeas corpus, Guanlao seeks to appeal the immigration judge’s removal order.

No other details were provided in Guanlao’s notice of appeal.

In her June 19 order that granted U.S. Homeland Security officials’ motion to dismiss, U.S. District Court for the NMI designated Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood said since Guanlao failed to exhaust administrative remedies of her claims, she would generally be required to return to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) to pursue them.

However, Tydingco-Gatewood said, the 30-day window for filing a motion to reopen the case has lapsed, and the District Court lacks jurisdiction to order the window reopened.

Thus, the judge said, Guanlao cannot prevail on her due process claim in the District Court, before the BIA, or before the Ninth Circuit.

The U.S. government recently asked the federal court to dissolve its 2016 order staying an immigration judge’s ruling for Guanlao’s removal.

Following the U.S. government’s motion to dissolve, Tydingco-Gatewood ordered Guanlao to file a response by July 9.

Department of Justice Office of immigration litigation trial attorney Adrienne Zack, counsel for respondents U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials, said while their motion is not listed as a non-hearing motion per se, it is essentially requesting clarification of the court’s intent in dismissing the case.

Zack said if the court determines that a hearing is not necessary, the respondents do not request one.

On June 23, 2016, U.S. District Court for the NMI Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona issued a stay of Guanlao’s removal from the U.S.

Zack moved the court to formally lift the stay of removal because this case has been resolved.

According to court records, Guanlao’s court battle began on Sept. 10, 2013 when an immigration judge found that Guanlao was removable as an alien present without a valid immigrant visa or entry document and ordered her removed to the Philippines.

Guanlao, who herself has a medical condition, has been residing on Saipan for over 24 years now.

Aside from naming then-U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson as respondent, Guanlao also sued several U.S. immigration officials.

Guanlao said her husband has been working in Saipan since 1989.

The couple’s two minor children were born on Saipan.

“They are the reason why I want to live longer and to be with them for the rest of my life,” Guanlao said.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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