Washington D.C. – The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee has approved, by unanimous consent, Congressman Greg “Kilili” Sablan’s bill to give 4 groups of people “CNMI-only resident status.” But the bill still needs a second panel’s OK before it goes to the House floor.
HEAR Matt Kaye’s report HERE>>>10-05 mk sai-imm.mp3
The House Resources Committee approved Sablan’s bill , H.R. 1466, in a block of non-controversial measures.
Sablan did not try to amend his bill to cover long-stay foreign workers, in the belief workers can be covered under the ongoing federalization. And that broadening 1466 could dim its chances.
The Congressman said in August even if resources reported out his bill, he’d still have to accept an amendment by Judiciary Chair Lamar Smith for the bill to proceed to the floor.
Judiciary has jurisdiction over immigration.
Sablan says there may also be other amendments, including one by CSIS, and possibly Governor Fitial.
Local worker and human rights groups argue the Congressman’s measure will be a big help to U.S. citizen children and their foreign parents, especially those who lost jobs.
“CNMI-only resident status” would allow them to stay in the Commonwealth legally after the November 27th transition date.
But advocates have also sought coverage for foreign workers who’ve labored for at least five-years, as of May 2008, regardless of whether they have children.
Rabbi Sayed of the United workers Movement is visiting New York and Washington this week and next to publicize the plight of NMI foreign workers and seek relief for them.
The Dekada Movement and Marianas Advocates for Humanitarian Affairs have also backed Sablan’s bill, which also covers permanent residents, those born in the NMI in the mid-to late seventies, and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, regardless of the citizen’s age.
Governor Fitial earlier opposed 1466 and told the House Resources Insular Affairs Subcommittee in July that the Bill is a “large scale amnesty.”
“It provides a direct route to U.S. citizenship that would create an estimated 11-thousand new U.S. citizens in the CNMI, during the next decade, virtually all of whom would be voters.”
Congress’s investigative arm, the GAO, disputed that figure, putting the actual number closer to 3 or 4-thousand.
Still, Fitial complained Sablan’s Bill would cover a wide-range of parents of U.S. citizen children, including non-custodial and unemployed parents.