Guam – The Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver program and interim paroling of Chinese and Russian visitors is expected to come up in talks with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today [Friday].
Governor Camacho and other GovGuam officials have already said that they will ask Secretary Clinton why State continues to object to paroling Chinese and Russian visitors to Guam, despite an apparent lack of problems earlier, and when DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano approved parole for the same visitors to the CNMI a year ago.
There was a ray of hope last month when House Insular Affairs Chair and Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo brought up the issue with Interior Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta: “Are you saying that DHS is currently examining the possibility of using its discretionary parole authority for visitors to Guam? Yes Madame Chair, that’s correct.”
That was September 16th. Now, almost November, DHS has still failed to provide answers on expanding parole authority. And the agency still hasn’t published a final rule on the joint Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program.
Bordallo is frustrated: “Would you say, Mr. Babauta, it’s going to be a long time or short time…are we going to wait months, or years? I would hope that it’s not years.”
Bordallo urged Babauta to press DHS on Visa Waiver Parole Authority, calling it an “urgent matter” and met personally, with DHS officials in her office a week ago.
But the matter’s been caught up in possible foreign policy issues…and security concerns about Russians and Chinese sneaking into the mainland-U.S.—concerns dismissed by the Guam Visitor’s Bureau.
Bordallo asked Babauta how DHS Parole Authority is working in the CNMI. “The feedback that we have is that it’s been largely successful.”
But continued uncertainty over parole use and final visa waiver rules DHS planned to issue next month—now expected to be delayed—is widely thought to be hurting tourism and airline-investment in both Guam and the CNMI.
The State Department has released the following, short, Public Schedule for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s brief stop over on Guam.
2:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Governor of Guam Felix Camacho, in Guam.
(MEDIA TO BE DETERMINED BY GUAM)
2:45 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with U.S. Armed Forces, in Guam.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)