US govt settles former Chinese legislator’s lawsuit


The U.S. government has come to a settlement with a former Chinese legislator who had sued U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials for allegedly not acting on her requests for biometrics that she needs in her court battle to remain in the CNMI.

The U.S. government and Heqian Ma, through their lawyers, told the U.S. District Court for the NMI on Thursday about their settlement.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mikel W. Schwab, counsel for USCIS officials and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and attorney Samuel I. Mok, counsel for Ma, disclosed that Ma’s biometrics were taken on Aug. 25, 2015, and USCIS signed off on quality assurance the following day.

As part of the settlement, the U.S. government agreed to pay Ma $400, equivalent to the court filing fee. In return, Ma agreed to release her claims in her petition for writ of mandamus.

Ma claims that she fled to Saipan after certain Chinese government officials severely beat, threatened, and detained her due to her political opinions.

Ma has a pending application before the Saipan Immigration Court to prevent her removal from the CNMI as she fears being persecuted by the Chinese government.

Ma was convicted in March 2012 of fraud in foreign labor contracting for engaging in a fraudulent scheme to invite Chinese nationals to come to the CNMI for non-existing jobs. She was sentenced to six months in prison.

In Ma’s petition in federal court, Mok disclosed that the Immigration Court had tentatively granted Ma’s withholding of removal at a hearing on June 16 last year on the condition that she complete her biometrics by Sept. 1, 2015.

According to Mok, Ma has already made three separate requests beginning in February 2015 for USCIS to take her biometrics but nothing has come out of those requests.

That prompted Ma to file a lawsuit in federal court on Monday against USCIS and Homeland Security officials, and U.S. Attorney General Lynch.

Mok stated that if Ma’s biometrics are not completed by Sept. 1, 2015, the Immigration Court has indicated it will dismiss and/or deny her application for withholding of removal on the basis of “abandonment.”

Mok said the dismissal and/or denial of Ma’s application for withholding of removal will result in her deportation to China where the Immigration Court has already found during a prior hearing that it was more likely than not she would suffer persecution by the Chinese government on account of her political beliefs.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a senior reporter of Saipan Tribune. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and has covered all news beats in the CNMI. He is a recipient of the CNMI Supreme Court Justice Award. Contact him at

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