Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, Imperial Pacific International (CNMI) LLC, and an IPI executive have denied any hanky-panky related to an old photo with a federal detainee, after a photo of the three circulated in social media yesterday.
Federal detainee Sen Sun, also known as Sam Sun, is seen with Torres and IPI executive director of Corporate Social Responsibility Geri Dela Cruz posing for a photo at what appears to be an Asian-themed restaurant. Also with the three is an unnamed man of Asian descent, said to be a potential investor.
Sun has been indicted on charges of harboring illegal aliens, unlawfully employing aliens, and money laundering. According to the indictment, he is a tourist whose entry visa has expired and is not authorized to open a business here. He allegedly had an illegal trip package business for pregnant Chinese women who sought to give birth here (and thereby earn U.S. citizenship for the newborn children).
According to a statement from press secretary Kevin Bautista, the photo was taken a year ago, in August 2017—“a considerable amount of time before the Nov. 6, 2017 indictment of [Sun].”
The meeting with Torres and Dela Cruz, Bautista said, was a “presentation of a certain proposal”—“one of many proposals the governor, in his official capacity, is presented with on a constant basis.”
“This was also the first and only time that the governor met this individual. The governor did not eat lunch with this individual; he merely attended his presentation. During the meeting, the governor agreed to have his photo taken, something he almost always does with potential investors and other people he has meetings with. Upon learning of the indictment of the aforementioned individual earlier this week, the governor directly ordered a stop in any discussions of the proposal,” Bautista added.
According to him, the governor was unaware of Sun’s immigration status.
Having entered the CNMI back in January 2014 under the visa-waiver program, Sun has yet to return to his home country since then and allegedly started his illegal business this January 2017, according to the indictment filed against him.
“The governor was unaware of the individual’s immigration status. It is not the practice for the governor to vet the immigration status of potential investors, especially for what are often mere courtesy calls. This practice is in line with the governor’s policy of making himself available to the public, whether that be a potential investor, an elected official, or more importantly, a constituent,” Bautista said.
“Gov. Torres has stated on the record multiple times and so states again here, the practice of birth tourism is unacceptable and condemns its practice in the CNMI. He is committed to pursuing all options to prevent illegal immigration practices in order to ensure the safety of our borders and the integrity of our island community.”
A statement from Dela Cruz said she was merely attending the presentation “in her personal capacity and on her own time.”
The IPI statement yesterday added: “At no time was Ms. Dela Cruz representing Imperial Pacific International (CNMI), LLC,” adding that Dela Cruz’s meeting with Sun was the first and that Sun happened to be the translator of the investor.
IPI pointed out that Dela Cruz and Sun’s meeting “had nothing to do with IPI.”
“[Dela Cruz] was present during her off-duty hours in her personal capacity. IPI has never had any dealing with the indicted individual [Sun] in any way,” the statement said, adding that IPI expects its employees to “perform their responsibilities” during work hours and that IPI had “no control” over what employees do in their personal time.