Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) said the temporary appointments to key positions are what is keeping many departments such as U.S. Department of Homeland Security from getting work done.
Sablan noted in an interview Tuesday that the rules and regulations governing the implementation of Public Law 116-24, or the NMI Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act, and Public Law 115-218, known as the NMI Workforce Act of 2018, are being delayed because of acting heads for key positions at DHS.
“…We cannot run a department like [Homeland Security] with everybody at the helm in an acting position—acting department head, acting division head. They are all acting, so it is difficult to get the work done,” he said when asked for updates on the rules and regulations for both laws.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under the DHS has yet to release rules and regulations on how both laws will be implemented.
P.L. 116-24 allows eligible parolees to apply for permanent resident status exclusive to the CNMI, while P.L. 115-218 extended the CW visa program for the CNMI for an additional 10 years, including an option to apply for a CW permit that is valid for three years instead of a permit that is valid for only one year.
USCIS is currently led by acting director Ken Cuccinelli after former USCIS director Lee Cissna stepped down from the post on June 1, 2019, while DHS as a whole is led by acting secretary Kevin McAleenan, who was appointed to the role in April 2019 after former secretary Kirstjen Nielsen resigned.
“The rules for [P.L. 116-24] should have already been issued. The rules for the NMI Workforce Act should have already been issued so that many of those that qualify will get three-year visas—[but] it’s not,” Sablan noted.
“That is where we are at. It’s unfortunate. We continue to push and ask people who are beneficiaries or who will be beneficiaries to be patient, but to please make sure they don’t fall out of status,” he added.