Marianas Variety

Last updateFri, 20 Sep 2019 12am







    Wednesday, September 18, 2019-6:25:27A.M.






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Humanitarian parolees brace for worst

THE 180-day transition period for the termination of the humanitarian parole program ends on June 29 and there is still no quick relief in sight for the affected individuals.

The parolees consist of over 1,000 individuals with children who are U.S. citizens. They represent about 10 percent of the CNMI workforce, the administration said.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said the crisis “requires U.S. congressional action and understanding from federal partners.”

But according to U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, “The simple solution to this humanitarian crisis is for the Trump administration to change its mind and allow families in the Marianas to stay together.”

On Sunday, over 100 humanitarian parolees who hold employment authorization documents or EAD, met in the parking lot of Marianas Business Plaza to discuss the impending loss of their legal immigration status.

Itos Feliciano, an EAD holder who works as reverse osmosis technician at Imperial Pacific International, said he has two U.S. citizen children and is the only breadwinner of the family.

He said other parolees have U.S. citizen children with disabilities.

Feliciano said they talked about their possible courses of action, and will meet again on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the same venue. He expects the attendance of more parolees.

In an email to Variety, Kilili said: “The Trump administration’s decision to end humanitarian parole for over 1,000 individuals in our community is a tragedy,” adding that there was no reason for the Trump administration to take this action.

“Almost all of these individuals are spouses or parents of U.S. citizens. They pose no threat to the security of our country. They are law-abiding, long-time residents of the Marianas,” he added.

Kilili said he knows that the governor is currently engaged in 902 talks with the Trump administration.

“I asked the governor at a [U.S. congressional] hearing in February to use his influence on President Trump to get this terrible decision reversed. The governor said he would try. I hope he is successful,” Kilili added.

“In the meantime, I am working to reverse the Trump administration’s decision in Congress. It is very hard to get immigration legislation passed. The U.S. Workforce Act took almost two years to enact. The simple solution to this humanitarian crisis is for the Trump administration to change its mind and allow families in the Marianas to stay together.”

For his part, Bautista said the administration is being proactive in dealing with the issue, pleading with federal partners to ensure that an extension of the humanitarian parole is granted.

On Dec. 27, 2018 the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced its decision to terminate the humanitarian parole program and set a 180-transition period during which those on parole could apply for an EAD.

Members of the CNMI House Judiciary and Governmental Operations Committee discussed the issue during a meeting on Monday.

Rep. Ivan Blanco said many of the families that will be affected include his constituents in Precinct 3. Some of them, he added, own small businesses on island, “so we will be losing a bunch of small businesses.”

Rep. Luis John Castro, who chairs the House Committee on Federal and Foreign Affairs, said they can raise the issue to the U.S. Congress by sending letters to its key members.