NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS LONG-TERM LEGAL RESIDENTS RELIEF ACT; Congressional Record Vol. 165, No. 92
(House of Representatives - June 03, 2019)

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[Pages H4201-H4203]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




     NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS LONG-TERM LEGAL RESIDENTS RELIEF ACT

  Mr. CASE. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill 
(H.R. 559) to amend section 6 of the Joint Resolution entitled ``A 
Joint Resolution to approve the Covenant To Establish a Commonwealth of 
the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States 
of America, and for other purposes'', as amended.
  The Clerk read the title of the bill.
  The text of the bill is as follows:

                                H.R. 559

       Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of 
     the United States of America in Congress assembled,

     SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

       This Act may be cited as the ``Northern Mariana Islands 
     Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act''.

     SEC. 2. LONG-TERM LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE 
                   NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS.

       Section 6(e) of the Joint Resolution entitled ``A Joint 
     Resolution to approve the Covenant To Establish a 
     Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political 
     Union with the United States of America, and for other 
     purposes'', approved March 24, 1976 (48 U.S.C. 1806), is 
     amended by adding at the end the following:

[[Page H4202]]

       ``(6) Special provision regarding long-term residents of 
     the commonwealth.--
       ``(A) CNMI resident status.--An alien described in 
     subparagraph (B) may, upon the application of the alien, be 
     admitted in CNMI Resident status to the Commonwealth subject 
     to the following rules:
       ``(i) The alien shall be treated as an alien lawfully 
     admitted to the Commonwealth only, including permitting entry 
     to and exit from the Commonwealth, until the earlier of the 
     date on which--

       ``(I) the alien ceases to reside in the Commonwealth; or
       ``(II) the alien's status is adjusted under section 245 of 
     the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1255) to that 
     of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in 
     accordance with all applicable eligibility requirements.

       ``(ii) The Secretary of Homeland Security--

       ``(I) shall establish a process for such alien to apply for 
     CNMI Resident status during the 180-day period beginning on a 
     date determined by the Secretary but not later than the first 
     day of the sixth month after the date of the enactment of 
     this paragraph; and
       ``(II) may, in the Secretary's discretion, authorize 
     deferred action or parole, as appropriate, with work 
     authorization, for such alien beginning on the date of the 
     enactment of this paragraph and continuing through the end of 
     such 180-day period or the date of adjudication of the 
     alien's application for CNMI Resident status, whichever is 
     later.

       ``(iii) Nothing in this subparagraph may be construed to 
     provide any alien granted status under this subparagraph with 
     public assistance to which the alien is not otherwise 
     entitled.
       ``(iv) An alien granted status under this paragraph--

       ``(I) is subject to all grounds of deportability under 
     section 237 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1227);
       ``(II) is subject to all grounds of inadmissibility under 
     section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1182) if seeking admission to the United States at a port of 
     entry in the Commonwealth;
       ``(III) is inadmissible to the United States at any port of 
     entry outside the Commonwealth, except that the Secretary of 
     Homeland Security may in the Secretary's discretion authorize 
     admission of such alien at a port of entry in Guam for the 
     purpose of direct transit to the Commonwealth, which 
     admission shall be considered an admission to the 
     Commonwealth;
       ``(IV) automatically shall lose such status if the alien 
     travels from the Commonwealth to any other place in the 
     United States, except that the Secretary of Homeland Security 
     may in the Secretary's discretion establish procedures for 
     the advance approval on a case-by-case basis of such travel 
     for a temporary and legitimate purpose, and the Secretary may 
     in the Secretary's discretion authorize the direct transit of 
     aliens with CNMI Resident status through Guam to a foreign 
     place;
       ``(V) shall be authorized to work in the Commonwealth 
     incident to status; and
       ``(VI) shall be issued appropriate travel documentation and 
     evidence of work authorization by the Secretary.

       ``(B) Aliens described.--An alien is described in this 
     subparagraph if the alien--
       ``(i) was lawfully present on the date of the enactment of 
     this paragraph or on December 31, 2018, in the Commonwealth 
     under the immigration laws of the United States, including 
     pursuant to a grant of parole under section 212(d)(5) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)) or 
     deferred action;
       ``(ii) is admissible as an immigrant to the United States 
     under the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101 et 
     seq.), except that no immigrant visa is required;
       ``(iii) resided continuously and lawfully in the 
     Commonwealth from November 28, 2009, through the date of the 
     enactment of this paragraph;
       ``(iv) is not a citizen of the Republic of the Marshall 
     Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, or the Republic 
     of Palau; and
       ``(v) in addition--

       ``(I) was born in the Northern Mariana Islands between 
     January 1, 1974, and January 9, 1978;
       ``(II) was, on November 27, 2009, a permanent resident of 
     the Commonwealth (as defined in section 4303 of title 3 of 
     the Northern Mariana Islands Commonwealth Code, in effect on 
     May 8, 2008);
       ``(III) is the spouse or child (as defined in section 
     101(b)(1) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 
     1101(b)(1))) of an alien described in subclause (I) or (II);
       ``(IV) was, on November 27, 2011, a spouse, child, or 
     parent of a United States citizen, notwithstanding the age of 
     the United States citizen, and continues to have such family 
     relationship with the citizen on the date of the application 
     described in subparagraph (A); or
       ``(V) had a grant of parole under section 212(d)(5) of the 
     Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(d)(5)) on 
     December 31, 2018, under the former parole program for 
     certain in-home caregivers administered by U.S. Citizenship 
     and Immigration Services.

       ``(C) Authority of attorney general.--Beginning on the 
     first day of the 180-day period established by the Secretary 
     of Homeland Security under subparagraph (A)(ii)(I), the 
     Attorney General may accept and adjudicate an application for 
     CNMI Resident status under this paragraph by an alien who is 
     in removal proceedings before the Attorney General if the 
     alien--
       ``(i) makes an initial application to the Attorney General 
     within such 180-day period; or
       ``(ii) applied to the Secretary of Homeland Security during 
     such 180-period and before being placed in removal 
     proceedings, and the Secretary denied the application.
       ``(D) Judicial review.--Notwithstanding any other law, no 
     court shall have jurisdiction to review any decision of the 
     Secretary of Homeland Security or the Attorney General on an 
     application under this paragraph or any other action or 
     determination of the Secretary of Homeland Security or the 
     Attorney General to implement, administer, or enforce this 
     paragraph.
       ``(E) Procedure.--The requirements of chapter 5 of title 5, 
     United States Code (commonly referred to as the 
     Administrative Procedure Act), or any other law relating to 
     rulemaking, information collection or publication in the 
     Federal Register shall not apply to any action to implement, 
     administer or enforce this paragraph.''.

     SEC. 3. DETERMINATION OF BUDGETARY EFFECTS.

       The budgetary effects of this Act, for the purpose of 
     complying with the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act of 2010, shall 
     be determined by reference to the latest statement titled 
     ``Budgetary Effects of PAYGO Legislation'' for this Act, 
     submitted for printing in the Congressional Record by the 
     Chairman of the House Budget Committee, provided that such 
     statement has been submitted prior to the vote on passage.

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentleman from 
Hawaii (Mr. Case) and the gentleman from Oklahoma (Mr. Kevin Hern) each 
will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Hawaii.


                             General Leave

  Mr. CASE. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may 
have 5 legislative days in which to revise and extend their remarks and 
include extraneous material on the measure under consideration.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Hawaii?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. CASE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 559 would provide relief to a small group of long-
term Northern Mariana Islands legal residents who will otherwise be 
forced to leave the Commonwealth by June 29 of this year if this 
legislation is not passed.
  This legislation is similar to legislation introduced back in 2011, 
which was ultimately included in bipartisan, comprehensive immigration 
legislation which passed the Senate in 2012 and to legislation which 
has extended their status previously.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield as much time as he may consume to the gentleman 
from the Northern Mariana Islands (Mr. Sablan), the sponsor of the 
bill.
  Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time.
  Mr. Speaker, 12 years ago, Congress enacted legislation extending 
U.S. immigration law to my district, the Northern Mariana Islands; and 
for my 11 years here in Congress, I have worked to make the resulting 
transition as least difficult as possible.
  Because there were unforeseen consequences, there were people who 
fell through the cracks. Today we have the chance to help some of those 
people. Their circumstances were not taken into account when Federal 
immigration was extended to our islands.

                              {time}  1600

  During the Obama administration, they were granted humanitarian 
parole that allowed them to stay. But President Trump decided that was 
an improper use of parole.
  The President's executive order of January 25, 2017, directed that 
parole be granted only on a case-by-case basis not to categories of 
people, as had been done in the Marianas.
  As a result, 1,039 long-term residents of my island lost their parole 
status last December. They were given until June 29 to adjust status or 
leave.
  I have no argument with the President's thinking. In fact, I have 
worked to provide permanent status in law for these long-term 
residents. But immigration legislation is difficult. I have not been 
successful.
  I hope today that will change because even though the Trump 
administration ended parole, at the same time, the administration also 
recognized that these long-term residents should be allowed to stay in 
the Marianas. The administration drafted legislation giving these

[[Page H4203]]

people permanent status in the Marianas, and just in the Marianas, so 
they could continue to live and work as they have for years as part of 
our community.
  I introduced that legislation, H.R. 559, and the administration 
submitted a statement for the hearing record to the Natural Resources 
Committee supporting passage, which I include in the Record.

                                                U.S. Department of


                                            Homeland Security,

                                Washington, DC, February 21, 2019.
     Hon. Raul M. Grijalva,
     Chairman, Committee on Natural Resources,
     House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
       Dear Representative Grijalva: This letter sets forth 
     Department of Homeland Security (DHS) views with regard to 
     H.R. 559, the ``Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal 
     Residents Relief Act.''
       Thank you for seeking the Department's input on this new 
     legislation. We appreciate the opportunity to review H.R. 559 
     as the Committee begins the legislative process in the 1st 
     session of the 116th Congress.
       As you are aware, H.R. 559 would provide for the admission 
     of certain aliens who are currently present in the 
     Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and who 
     had been parolees as CNMI residents. In doing so, the bill 
     would establish an alternative regime to the now-terminated 
     categorical parole program for the CNMI. DHS believes that 
     the bill would address the discrete needs of this alien group 
     in an equitable and lawful manner--more so than any other 
     bill that is now pending Congressional consideration.
       In light of the aforementioned, DHS supports H.R. 559. DHS 
     would respectfully urge the Committee to consider the bill 
     favorably. Further, it is the Department's hope that the full 
     House of Representatives will take up and pass the measure 
     expeditiously.
       The Department is pleased to inform you that the Office of 
     Management and Budget has no objection to the presentation of 
     this letter to Congress. Nonetheless, I appreciate your 
     interest in the Administration's concerns on this matter. 
     Fortunately, there are none.
       Again, thank you for the opportunity to review and share 
     the Department's position on H.R. 559. An identical letter 
     has been sent to Representatives Sablan and Bishop.
           Respectfully,
                                             Christine M. Ciccone,
                      Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs.

  Mr. SABLAN. Mr. Speaker, let me read from the administration's 
letter. ``H.R. 559 would provide for the admission of certain aliens 
who are currently present in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands, CNMI, and who had been parolees. . . . In doing so, the bill 
would establish an alternative regime to the now-terminated categorical 
parole program for the CNMI. DHS believes that the bill would address 
the discrete needs of this alien group in an equitable and lawful 
manner. . . . It is the Department's hope that the full House of 
Representatives will take up and pass the measure expeditiously.'' 
Signed: Christine M. Ciccone, Assistant Secretary for Legislative 
Affairs, Department of Homeland Security.
  To be completely transparent, the bill before us has been altered 
slightly from the original. The bill now includes an administrative 
appeal procedure if an applicant believes an error was made in 
processing their petition for permanent status. But that new language 
was also drafted, at my request, by the administration. So the bill 
remains 100 percent as drafted by the administration.
  Again, the bill provides permanent status in the Marianas only, with 
no right of entry to any other part of the United States and no right 
to any public assistance, to a small group of people who have lived and 
worked in the Marianas, always lawfully present, since before U.S. 
immigration law was ever extended to our islands.
  The Trump administration agrees. These individuals should be allowed 
to stay, but not by administrative fiat. They should be allowed to stay 
under the rule of law.
  Today, I ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass that 
law. Do as the administration advises. Vote ``yes'' on H.R. 559.
  Mr. KEVIN HERN of Oklahoma. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as 
I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, as has been documented, the Commonwealth of the Northern 
Mariana Islands' workforce has historically been comprised of U.S. 
citizens as well as a nonimmigrant, temporary foreign population.
  Until 2009, the CNMI controlled its own immigration policy for the 
foreign workforce. Today, the Department of Homeland Security manages 
the applications and eventual permits for any foreign people entering 
the Commonwealth for work. Since 2009, the transitional worker program 
was forward-looking, which left a certain portion of the existing 
foreign workforce that has resided and worked in the Commonwealth for 
many years in a gray area.
  H.R. 559 is an approach to resolve any uncertainty for these long-
term foreign workers. I thank the Governor of the Commonwealth, Ralph 
Torres, for his help and Mr. Sablan.
  While the policy contained in this measure is fair for long-term 
foreign workers in the Mariana Islands, I am deeply disappointed that 
the majority did not consider this bill through regular order. Neither 
the Natural Resources Committee nor the Judiciary Committee, which 
received an additional referral of this bill, have acted on this 
measure--no hearings, no markups. It is my hope that the majority truly 
believes in following their rules that are supposed to provide for an 
open and transparent process because this bill did not meet that test.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. CASE. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself the balance of my time.
  I commend my colleague from the Northern Mariana Islands for so ably 
representing his people. As the Representative proudly representing 
Hawaii, I recognize him and his constituents as members of our Pacific 
Islands ohana, and I commend him also for working very closely with the 
administration to get this bill right from both sides' perspectives. It 
is a truly bipartisan bill.
  It is a necessary bill, and I urge my colleagues to support the 
legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the 
gentleman from Hawaii (Mr. Case) that the House suspend the rules and 
pass the bill, H.R. 559, as amended.
  The question was taken; and (two-thirds being in the affirmative) the 
rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

                          ____________________