Sablan Introduces Immigration Bill

April 21, 2011

Photo by W. L. Doromal ©2010
U.S. Congressional Delegate Gregorio (Kilili) Sablan introduced H.R. 1466 on April 8, 2011. The bill appears to have good intentions in that it seeks to provide some stability for certain foreigners during the transition period of federalization of immigration laws.  Still, I have several serious reservations about the legislation.

The bill only recognizes four specific groups as qualifying for upgraded status:
(I) was born in the Northern Mariana Islands between January 1, 1974, and January 9, 1978;
(II) was, on May 8, 2008, a permanent resident as that term is defined in section 4303 of Title 3 of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code in effect on May 8, 2008;
(III) is the spouse or child, as defined in section 101(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(1)), of an alien described in subclauses (I) or (II); or
(IV) was, on May 8, 2008, an immediate relative, as that term is defined in section 4303 of Title 3 of the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code in effect on May 8, 2008, of a United States citizen, not withstanding the age of the United States citizen, and continues to be such an immediate relative on the date of the application described under subparagraph (A).
Any immigration bill related to the long-term nonresident workers in the CNMI should address ALL of the long-term foreigner workers, not just selected groups. I agree with the upgrading of status for the CNMI permanent residents and those born in the CNMI January 1, 1974, and January 9, 1978, but object to the restrictions and selectiveness in the category of long-term foreign workers. Omitting certain categories of equally qualifying workers because of their marital status or reproductive status is discriminatory and perhaps unconstitutional. Is the delegate saying that people who are married or people who have U.S. citizen children are in some way more qualified to work and live permanently in the CNMI than foreigners who have lived and worked there the same length of time or longer and are single, or have foreign children or no children? I find that disturbing and unjust.

The legislation allows those selected-only nonresidents who resided in the CNMI as of November 28, 2009 to qualify for the improved status. If the legislation passes it would mean that even an alien who was in the CNMI even for a limited time would receive improved status and a person who has legally lived and worked in the CNMI for 30 years, but has no U.S. citizen spouse or children will be overlooked. That is plain wrong.

Another concern I have is the CNMI-only provision.  I interpret the CNRA as attempting to align the CNMI with U.S. immigration laws.  I believe it is unwise to provide special classification for certain territories and states and view this as a step backwards that conflicts with the intent of the law.

The proposed legislation would allow selected-only long-term workers to remain in the CNMI under a CNMI-residency status, but would prohibit travel to the United States.  It is as if the long-term workers will be bound to the islands to benefit the CNMI, in that the needed workforce will be ensured, but the workers will remain under a restricted status that would not apply in another place on U.S. soil.  The law recognizes that this status would cease if and when the alien's status is adjusted to permanent U.S. residency (green card) under the U.S. immigration laws.

I am certain that some will also note that some classes of nonresidents listed in this bill (those married to an IR and those with U.S. citizen children) would eventually qualify to become permanent residents.  Those married to IRs qualify to get green cards by completing the application process if they meet the income and other requirements. Because the CNMI has low minimum wage the fees should be waived.

I will submit a statement to the committee regarding my concerns and making recommendations for revisions.


Anonymous said...

They seem to be preparing for non-NMD voters. Note that while limiting land ownership to NMD is legal, limiting voting (on any public issue) to NMD is illegal.

House Bill 17-57 which was introduced by Vice Speaker Felicidad T. Ogumoro, Covenant-Saipan, is now Public Law 17-40.

It establishes a Northern Marianas Descent Registry within the Commonwealth Election Commission. This is to maintain official listings and records of persons of Northern Marianas descent and others as may be allowed or required pursuant to the Act.

Anonymous said...

I believe this proposed bill also allows for "B" visa applications for those affected to be able to travel to the US. It is good that maybe finally the "stateless" people will get something concrete.
I also read that it is highly unlikely that anything will be addressed on any immigration issue anytime soon or in the foreseeable future.
This may be a stop gap intervention for some.
But the big question still remains, what is going to happen to the current workers at the end of Nov?
Will they have to leave? Or will it be business as usual with low unpaid wages and those without jobs complaining about the CW taking away what little jobs there are?

the teacher said...

I imagine the GOP house will have questions as well. Will fees be waived for the CNMI only PR? Will CNMI only PRs be allowed food stamps and other aid? If the bill does prove to be unconstitutional, would they be more likely to include everyone or scrap everyone? What about those with US citizen children living abroad and the parents live here, would that unite families or split more...meaning many will still work here and take care of their child as cheaply as possible...and thats the third world. What about the hundreds or thousands of tourists who came here 7 months pregnant with intent to deliver here so they could get their child a free college education…does this mean the new CNMI PR can petition other relatives to move here? What happens to the hundreds of “2 family” families that reside here…meaning guy and girl both have kids and families abroad but have one child with their “CNMI only” spouse? Will fees be waived for any groups and if so wouldn’t that offend thousands or millions that follow the long and expensive road? If girl has US citizen child and is CNMI only PR, can she then bring her PI family here and can her baby’s CNMI only father bring his biological family here also? What happens if an alien girl has a child here and her NMI only husband isn’t the father, should the CNMI only husband adopt to become PR?

This will be alot of immigration work for attorneys for years to come.

Anonymous said...

I don't like it, Kilili probably doesn't really like it, but it's probably what he thinks he can get passed, to actually help out many of these guys. Ideally we'd hope anyone over 5 years here would get a permanent residense. Simple. I think we realize that's not going to happen.

Wendy said...

Stateless people should have been given green cards YEARS ago. Not some token. not some sub-status. Why some only, why selected people based on procreation and marital status? Why EXCLUDE an entire segment that is also legal and may even have been in the CNMI working and providing their skills and services even LONGER than those who are married to an IR or have US citizen children? As Desmond Tutu said, "I am not interested in picking up crumbs of compassion thrown from the table of someone who considers himself my master. I want the full menu of rights."

Anonymous 1:40: No one that is elected should submit what they "think will pass", they should introduce quality legislation that will produce the best results for all affected. I don't think this will pass because it excludes a group of legal, long-term workers and it doesn't even offer green cards or US status. It proposes some restrictive sub-class. Is this what was intended by the CNRA? I don't think so.

We need to discuss reparations now. Enough jive from the CNMI; enough from the US. These legal long-term workers, most who have been cheated on U.S. soil must be made whole.

Anonymous said...

This is an incredible piece of legislation and Kilili actually had a number of co-sponsors for the bill. I wish we had actual figures on how many non-residents were affected. I think that it would affect close to 10,000.

I'm afraid that a payback call to Reince Preibus from the CNMI Republicans is comming soon, and the last part about U.S. permanent residency and a pathway to citizenship will be removed.

Anonymous said...

Wendy, I think you are aware, and probably know many spouse that are married to a local for many years. It seems that all of my friends that are in this situation have not for all of these years wanted to get a green card for their spouse.My neighbor has been married for more than 25 years and his children are grown already. Many more with that many years and more, many had worked for the Govt and would meet the minimum requirements.
When asked over the years almost all said they would not get the spouse a "Greene Cards" because they were scared they would leave them and go off to the mainland once they received them.
Many more have also had that happen in the past and remarried and refused to go that route again.
NOW with the Fed take over they have no choice, but mow fall into a non qualifying category because of the income. So what is the solution to keep the families together in the interum?

Wendy said...

Anonymous 9:43

What is a family? A family can be two married Bangladeshis,one Bangladeshi child and one US citizen child; a family can be two men or two women with a commitment to each other; a family can be one Filipina or Filipino married to a Filipino with no children; a family can be a Chinese married to US citizen with a US citizen child; a family can be a Chinese married to a Chinese with two US citizen children and 1 Chinese child; a family can be two unmarried adults committed to each other with no children; two unmarried adults committed to each other with one non US citizen child. All of these examples are real situations in the CNMI. What gives the US Congress the right to say that certain "family" units are more important than others? That some family units should not be separated or exiled, but others should be? I say it is discriminatory, un-American and probably unconstitutional. It is certainly misguided at the least. Why in the world should permanent residency be based on family relationships? That sets a very bad precedent.

Your example of spouses not applying for green cards is sad. Imagine being married to a person who has so little trust that they wouldn't apply for status for their spouse. That sounds like a very shaky relationship.

stop the lies said...

The excuse that Kilili uses that he is keeping families together is a crock. He's trying to please both the locals and the OCWs.He should let the real Democratic immigration supporters enter a bill that doesn't make a mockery of the U.S.A.'s immigration laws. Then he won't have to take the heat. It seems he's afraid he won't get elected if he supports green cards for all legal OCWs over 5 years. It's a lie a bill that includes all of the legal OCWs won't pass the Congress. No one in the US gives a damn about 18,000 people in the CNMI getting a green card when there are millions of illegals in the US!

Anonymous said...

Sham marriages run rampant in the CNMI. It's almost always about getting the coveted Green Card. Take a look at the thirty year old Bangladeshi taxi driver who marries the sixty year old Carolinian woman. Was it true love that brought them together? Probably more like five or ten thousand cash. This happens all the time. DHS is worried that maybe just one Pakistani national with ties to Al Q will get a Green Card and a free pass to the United States mainland. Don't seem so surprised that K Sablan introduced this legislation and that it will likely go through. This is our Federal government at work here.

Anonymous said...

Kilili always say he represents for all the people of CNMI.He knows the long term workers are the main concern, but he intentionally picks them out from his bills.What's this representative's strategy? motive? Maybe I misunderstand the definition of "the people of CNMI" in which only the voters belong to, not including the long term workers.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is this. Sablan's trying to please everyone and will please noone. He's trying to please the workers by tossing crumbs and trying to please the locals by giving them a status that won't allow them to vote. Just more political games. Don't you love it?

Anonymous said...

No I don't love it. I won't qualify under this. Who wants to be a CNMI permanent resident? It's to keep all OCWs from voting in the CNMI.I'm not fooled. Kilili sold out.Shame on him for all his promises.

Anonymous said...

Political strategy for higher office of our beloved congressman. Voters are regarded in this island. Non-Voters - Sorry bla bla

Wendy said...

Disenfranchisement is undemocratic, un-American and extremely poisonous and harmful to a community.

Anonymous said...

The income requirement is for a very good reason: You can't show up in DC with $500.00 in your pocket and expect to survive. You can submit statements and recommendations all you like, the United States government and President Obama are completely focused on securing jobs for current American Citizens.

TAGLISH said...

Anon 9:41 AM

“VOTERs are regarded in this island. Oh yes!!! They are absolutely and highly regarded but only during election time….sorry blah blah!!
We, non-voters are in total dismay on how you perform, how you choose your leader. So pitiful, miserable!! We are truly laughing behind you.
This is the only reason why these politicians don’t want any non-voters to be voters on this island. Non-voters would be smart enough to choose the best, certainly not by blood or affiliations but by qualifications. Now voters, you don’t have much choice, so live with it!