House okays parolees bill

Jun 10, 2019

Legislation giving permanent status in the Marianas to over a thousand people passed the House. They have been living in the islands under humanitarian parole granted by the Obama administration, but the Trump administration ended the parole program in January and gave parolees until June 29 to adjust immigration status or leave the Marianas. I introduced the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act in response and the Trump administration did back my effort to give the parolees permanent status in law. My bill, H.R. 559, covers five categories of people, all of whom have lived in the Marianas since before federal immigration was extended to our islands a decade ago. I introduced a similar status bill in 2009, my first year in Congress; and in 2011 had a bill set to pass the House, until then-Governor Benigno Fitial effectively lobbied fellow Republicans to vote it down. Fortunately, the Obama administration offered the parole status in 2011, which worked until the Trump administration ended that help. If the Senate now passes H.R. 559, it will be the result of a decade of work for me and a decade of uncertainty for many Marianas families.