Lawmakers want to meet with ICE, USCIS

MEMBERS of the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs are hoping to meet with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to discuss immigration issues, including illegal aliens.

The committee headed by Rep. Gregorio Sablan Jr. met on Tuesday morning to deliberate on House Resolution 20-9 which requests that the governor “recognize and support the need to change the time period of authorized stay under the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program,” and to “encourage the governor to petition the consideration and approval of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

The resolution, which was introduced by Rep. Ivan Blanco, calls for limiting the stay of Chinese and Russian visitors from 45 days to 15 days to prevent overstaying in the CNMI.

But some committee members said the proposal may seem “discriminatory.”

The Marianas Visitors Authority opposes the resolution, saying its purpose is unclear, adding that shortening the period of authorized stay will have a detrimental effect on tourism, the CNMI’s primary industry.

MVA said the enforcement of the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program lies within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which should aggressively enforce U.S. laws to prevent any visa or parole violations.

MVA said the blame should not fall on the CNMI government as immigration is now under the jurisdiction of the federal government.

The Saipan Chamber of Commerce also opposes the resolution, saying it may cause distress to the tourism industry. The proposal is not in the best interests of the business community or the CNMI as a whole, the chamber added.

Rep. Larry Deleon Guerrero wants to know what USCIS and the ICE agents are doing to go after overstaying foreigner in the CNMI. He also wants to know if USCIS and the ICE have statistics on overstaying foreigners.

Rep. Vinnie Sablan said they should seek an audience with USCIS and ICE to get “hard facts.”

Some committee members are also concerned that 3,000 nonresident workers could become overstaying aliens due to the reduction in the CW cap by the same number.

In an interview, Rep. Vinnie Sablan said, “Our concern is that we have immigration issues at hand right now and we want answers and information on what’s going on with overstayers, birth tourism, the parole program and the 3,000 CW cut. We have questions that we can’t answer. The answers to these questions have to come from USCIS and ICE. We will ask them to give us statistics. I understand that we don’t have jurisdiction over USCIS and ICE, but the issues at hand are happening here on our islands and we will simply request information from the federal authorities. These are enforcement issues, and we don’t have jurisdiction over immigration which is now under the federal government.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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