Rep. Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan) remains hopeful that officials in Washington, D.C. would carefully study the 902 report that was submitted to Congress and respect the recommendations made by both panels that finalized it.
Demapan, who was part of the CNMI panel in last year’s 902 talks, said that not all federal policies that’s being crafted and implemented in Washington, D.C. are applicable here.
“Sometimes, in federal policy, what’s good for D.C. and the U.S. mainland is not good for the CNMI. …But that’s just the way things work. This is how things work with our remote location. We’re not attached to the mainland and that makes it more challenging for our economy to thrive. We need to look at creative and innovative solutions, and part of that is the parole and visa waiver program,” he said.
Demapan used to chair the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs in the 19th Legislature, where he had the chance to join Gov. Ralph DLG Torres and other CNMI leaders in several meetings with Washington, D.C. officials, especially during the administration of former President Barack Obama.
“If there’s any part of those recommendations that would move forward, it would require congressional action and that would need legislation by Congress. When it gets to that stage, it is going to be our job to make that we push again and make them understand why those recommendations are in there,” he said.
He said the Trump administration’s strict guidelines on immigration pose a big concern for the CNMI. “We understand that their view on immigration is generated and based on the issues that are happening in mainland,” he said. “We’re hopeful that they understand our views, because our views…are based on our need to capture visitor arrivals and the source market that have been coming here.”
Demapan added that unlike in the mainland, where there are other industries that fuel their economy, tourism is the CNMI’s primary economic drive. “And if we lose this because of immigration reform or policy, then what will happen to our economy?”
He said CNMI officials should also be mindful on the CNMI’s infrastructures if it has the capacity to host bigger number of visitors.