Below is a copy of the press release from Rep. Kilili's office in DC regarding the implementation of federalized immigration and labor in the CNMI:
NMI Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Richard Barth, and Madeleine Z. Bordallo, Chairwoman of the House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife met today in Bordallo’s office on Capitol Hill. Barth delivered the notification from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano that she had granted a 180-day delay in the commencement of federal immigration control in the Northern Marianas. Barth said the Department had listened to many people on the issue of the delay and that the decision was in many ways collaborative. “It’s the right thing to for you… It’s the right thing to do for us,” Barth told the two Members of Congress.
Kilili and Bordallo receive notification
Kilili sets out goals for regulations DHS must now write
Washington, D.C. – Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has decided to delay commencement of federal immigration in the Northern Marianas by 180 days. Assistant Secretary Richard Barth delivered Napolitano’s decision to Capitol Hill today, presenting a copy of the notification to Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo and NMI Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan.
The decision came just a few days after the powerful Congressional Hispanic Caucus, of which Sablan is a member, weighed in on the issue, writing to Napolitano and supporting Sablan’s request for the 180-day delay.
“I am glad to finally have the Secretary’s decision,” said Sablan. “We now know with certainty that the transition to federal immigration will begin on November 28, 2009.”
U.S. Public Law 110-229, which extends federal immigration control to the Northern Marianas, set June 1, 2009 as the date for the transition to begin. But the law also gave the Secretary the power to delay the date by 180 days, if needed.
“As I have said before, this is not delay for the sake of delay,” Sablan said. “The reason to push back the date is so that the Department of Homeland Security has enough time to do it right.
“For that reason I have written a new letter to Secretary Napolitano, thanking her for her decision and pledging to work in Congress to make sure there is sufficient money for Homeland Security to stand up its border operations in the Marianas.
“I have also set out a number of proposals regarding the regulations that now need to be written.”
Sablan gave the 9-page letter to Barth at their meeting at Bordallo’s office. Bordallo chairs the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife.
Sablan’s letter identifies 5 different groups of people, who now are legal residents of the Northern Marianas, who may be hurt, if regulations are not carefully written. Sablan said he is particularly concerned about keeping families together. But he also emphasized the requirements of the law, including “as much flexibility as possible in maintaining existing business and other revenue sources, and developing new economic opportunities.”
One concern that applies to several of the groups is whether people will be able to leave the Northern Marianas—for medical emergencies or other reasons—and then be able to get back in. Sablan wants regulations to be written that will allow any legal resident to leave and re-enter without the need for a new US visa.
Sablan is also concerned that families that have both US citizen and non-US citizen members may not be able to afford the cost of getting US visas for the non-US citizen family members. Visas applications are expensive and they require that families earn at least 125% of the federal poverty level.
He has proposed that Secretary Napolitano use her authority to make it more affordable for families to get US visas for spouses, parents, or children.
“I am hopeful that now that the new Obama Administration is settling in we will be able to get down to the nitty-gritty of writing these regulations,” Sablan said. “It’s been almost a year since the law was enacted. It’s time that we start clearing away all the uncertainty that exists without clear regulations.”