Moment of truth for CNMI parolees as H.R. 559 passes Senate and awaits Trump signature

The immigration fate of some 1,039 CNMI parolees will be decided soon.

The immigration fate of some 1,039 CNMI parolees is now in the hands of President Trump.

Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan announced that his legislation providing permanent status for as many as 1,039 individuals, living in the Marianas under humanitarian parole, passed the Senate on Thursday afternoon.

The bill, H.R. 559, now goes to the White House for the President’s signature. If the President signs Sablan’s legislation before June 29, parolees, who have lived lawfully in the Marianas since 2009, will be able to continue to live and work in the islands.

Otherwise, the parolees, including parents and spouses of U.S. citizens, will be forced to leave.

Sablan introduced the legislation on January 15, shortly after the Trump administration announced it was ending humanitarian parole for five groups of people in the Marianas.

The Obama administration set up parole programs in 2009 and 2011, covering persons who had been born in the Marianas, but were not covered by citizenship provisions of the Marianas Covenant of Political Union with the United States.

Persons granted permanent resident status under Commonwealth law in the early 1980s were also covered by the Obama policy, as were certain in-home caregivers and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

“The Trump administration did not agree with use of executive authority to allow these long-term, legal residents to stay in the Marianas,” Sablan said in a news release. “However, the Trump administration did agree that these 1,039 individuals should stay, if Congress provided a basis in law. The Trump administration drafted what became H.R. 559 and supported passage, when I held a hearing on the issue in February.”

Because of the Trump administration support, Sablan said ihe is hopeful that the President will sign his Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act, H.R. 559, before the June 29 deadline.