Time ticks for those about to lose immigration status

Posted on Apr 04 2019

Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) continues to work on having the two bills that he introduced pass the Democratic Party-led U.S. House of Representatives so it could solve the current predicament of CNMI workers under the parole program who could lose legal immigration status by June 30, 2019.

The two bills—H.R. 559 and 560—hope to address the status of workers under the humanitarian parole program and employment authorization document, as well as long-term workers and foreign investors.

H.R. 559 would save the immigration status of more than 1,000 individuals who were either given humanitarian parole or those who are holding employment authorization document. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services discontinued the program last December, but gave these workers 180 days—until June 30, 2019—to secure other immigration statuses.

Those affected by USCIS’ decision are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and other stateless individuals, CNMI permanent residents and their IRs, IRs of citizens of Freely Associated States (the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau), caregivers of CNMI residents.

“Rather than expediting passage in the House, as Democrats are willing to do, Republicans have insisted that all formal procedural steps be followed,” Sablan, who is still in Washington, D.C. told Saipan Tribune. “This puts the 1,039 individuals, who will lose their parole status because of the administration of President [Donald J.] Trump decision in December, at risk of having to leave the Marianas in June.

USCIS gave a 180-day transition window to those affected by the termination of the parole program. A legislative fix could give them legal status or allow them to transition to other U.S. eligible visas. Otherwise, they would need to leave the CNMI for good.

Sablan again asked Gov. Ralph DLG Torres’ help to find a solution to the predicament of these workers.

“I continue to hope that Gov. Torres will use his influence with the President to have that decision reversed, so that Marianas families are not separated. At the same time, we continue to work hard to get Congress to pass H.R. 559 as close as possible to the June 30, 2019, timeline established by the Trump administration.”

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