Governor asks Sen. Murkowski to support Kilili bill

GOVERNOR Ralph DLG Torres is requesting U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski to support H.R. 559, the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act.

Authored by U.S. Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, the bill would provide CNMI-only permanent status to about 1,000 long-term foreign residents of the Commonwealth.

Lisa Murkowski

The bill was passed by the U.S. House on June 4.

In his letter to Murkowski, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the governor said “since the December 2018 decision of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to terminate the parole status of a number of long-term foreign residents present in the CNMI, these 1,039 individuals in the terminated categories have been in a state of uncertainty over their ability to continue their lives in these islands.”

The governor added, “Currently, the employment authorization for these individuals and their ability to remain in the CNMI under a transitional parole status expires on June 29, 2019.”

Torres said H.R. 559 would “provide a legal remedy for these individuals, their families, and the community that they continue to contribute to by granting them CNMI resident status within the Commonwealth.”

The governor said he has been in communication “with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on this issue and this path was recommended by them to provide greater legal status for these individuals to remain in the CNMI.”

Torres said he is asking Murkowski’s “support in the passage of this legislation and I humbly request your understanding for the urgency of its enactment. I thank you for your partnership, understanding and cooperation on these issues of supreme importance to the CNMI.”