‘Draft letter asks GAO about parole termination’

Mar 6, 2018

Saipan Tribune - A bipartisan letter is being drafted to ask the Government Accountability Office to study the effects of a possible termination of the Marianas parole authority, according to Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP).

Sablan told Saipan Tribune in a press conference last week that there is a “bipartisan, bicameral letter” to request GAO to prepare a study on the effect of terminating the parole authority in the Marianas.

Sablan, who is on the alert for the possible termination of the parole authority, also said in the same press conference that he would be sending a letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security requesting to have the parole authority continued, while looking at draft legislation to introduce, if not find a way to insert it in other legislations, for the continuation of the parole authority.

He reportedly met with members of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Washington, D.C., Hawaii, and the CNMI, who have voiced concerns regarding the enforcement of the parole program.

“[U.S. President Donald J. Trump] only cares about protecting the borders. I care about protecting our borders too and addressing issues that our law enforcement authorities have found in implementing the Marianas parole system,” he said.

“I think it’s possible to clip the system so that there is more accountability, more vetting, and more resources for enforcement without harming our tourism economy,” he added.

The Marianas parole authority allows the CNMI to individually vet tourists who are from both Russia and China. While tourists from both countries require a U.S. visa to enter the U.S. territory, both countries’ nationals may enter the CNMI as tourists because of this program.

Should the program be terminated, it would cost the CNMI a little less than half of its total tourist arrivals in fiscal year 2017.

While noting that the termination of the parole authority is completely the discretion of the U.S. executive branch, Sablan said he will use his position in the U.S. Congress to “reinstate a system” that addresses problems while maintaining access to Chinese tourists.

Sablan did not elaborate.

According to Sablan, the Marianas parole authority may be in jeopardy as he noted that reports from CBP, HSI, and USCIS point toward the difficulty in enforcing the parole authority without abuse. He added that overstaying tourists, working tourists, on-the-job deaths of workers who are believed to be tourists, minimum wage violations, birth tourism, and more contribute to the problematic situation.

The Marianas parole authority allows Russian and Chinese nationals to enter the CNMI as tourists after being vetted by CBP officials.