Washington D.C. – On a vote of 68-32, the U.S. Senate has passed an historic immigration reform bill that gives new hope to thousands of legal foreign workers and others in the CNMI who will have a pathway to U.S. citizenship, if the House approves.
Senate passage came after three weeks of debate, a bi-partisan blueprint by the so-called ‘Gang of Eight’, and months of negotiations. The vote was taken on Thursday in Washington, a full day earlier than expected.
HEAR Matt Kaye’s report HERE>>>06-28 senpassesimmigbill.mp3
It was a magic moment for Congressman Greg “Kilili” Sablan who’s waged a seemingly endless battle to give hope to some 12-thousand legal foreign workers, those with U.S. citizen children and others, who will be allowed to stay in the Northern Marianas and pursue the dream of U.S. citizenship, if the measure eventually clears the House. They are people whom Sablan calls, “our neighbors.”
SABLAN: “Individuals who have become our neighbors, our friends, our family members, live under a cloud of uncertainty about whether they can continue to live in the Northern Mariana Islands and in America.”
But today, that cloud has begun to clear, said Sablan.
SABLAN: “Today, the senate voted to end that uncertainty and accept those individuals into our American community. and, in doing so, the senate accepted the principal that we are all better off, when we remove the barriers that divide us.”
Sablan congratulated those he called “the brave gang of eight” that gave life and a must-have win for his CNMI status reforms, that face an uncertain future in the House, and may survive only for their inclusion by the Senate.
Speaker John Boehner insists any bill must have a majority of GOP support. Others say serious reform may take a ‘back seat’ to funding the government and raising the federal borrowing limit.
Sablan was asked what his message would be to the House leadership.
SABLAN: “I’m disappointed. We have the momentum on fixing our broken immigration system. But I still remain cautiously optimistic that my colleagues in the House, including my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, will look at this, and see that this is an opportunity.”
Sablan says the opportunity includes many “good things” for immigration reform.
America, Sablan concludes, is a “nation of immigrants”, including the thousands of human beings who have become family, in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.