A pending bill in the U.S. Congress that proposes to provide permanent resident status to long-term foreign workers or CW workers, as well as investors, in the CNMI, is stalled at this point, according to Jason Osborne, director of the CNMI Washington Office.
Speaking at a radio news briefing Friday, Osborne said that while H.R. 559 has already been enacted, H.R. 560 is “kind of still sitting there.”
“We were hoping to get that passed. I know that [Delegate Gregorio Kilili] Sablan was working hard to try and get that passed before the end of this year,” he said.
The reality, Osborne said, is that Congress really isn’t doing much right now in terms of passing standalone bills. He said Congress’ focus has been on a second round of stimulus funding and trying to finalize appropriation bills.
Osborne said now the Senate’s focus is on a Supreme Court nomination.
“I anticipate that, unless a deal can be reached on the stimulus within the next week, which it doesn’t sound like it will, we’re not going to have any further legislation be voted or passed by election day,” he said.
Last February, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 560, or the Northern Mariana Islands Residents Relief Act which was introduced by Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP). Sablan said H.R. 560 would give stability to a small group of investors who were in the CNMI even before federal immigration, as well as foreign workers who have been calling the islands home for decades.
Before that, in June 2019, President Donald J. Trump signed H.R. 559 into law, a legislation introduced by Sablan that gives improved immigration status to more than 1,000 individuals that are under the categorical parole program.