CNMI OFFICIAL DISPUTES ILLEGAL ALIEN TALLY

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By John Ravelo

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 6) - Reacting to a media statement by resigned Immigration director Martin Manglona, Attorney General Pamela Brown said there has been no recent census to actually count the number of aliens illegally staying in the Commonwealth.

When he was to resign, Manglona reportedly said that the number of these aliens run to "a couple of thousands."

In a press statement, the AGO said it was uncertain as to how Manglona came up with his estimate; thus it could not confirm the estimate's accuracy.

"It is unclear whether that estimate includes the large number of individuals who until recently were allowed to remain in the Commonwealth because they were litigants in the garment class action that was settled some months ago," the AGO's media release said.

"Such aliens would have no formal Commonwealth immigration status, but would not necessarily be considered 'illegal' if their presence in the lawsuit gave them a right to remain," it added.

Sometime last year, former Senate vice president Jose M. Dela Cruz introduced a legislative proposal that seeks to grant a 90-day period of limited immunity to illegal aliens, during which they would not be prosecuted or deported. A report quoted Dela Cruz as saying that the number of illegal aliens has broken the 5,000-mark.

Brown's office also refuted other reported statements by Manglona before the latter stepped down from his Immigration post, which is subordinate to the AGO.

Manglona reportedly said that the government spent at least $3,000 for each of the illegal aliens deported last year, which allegedly reached 112.

"Although we do not have a hard line 'average' number to show how much a deportation costs, we do not believe it approaches the sum of $3,000," the AGO said.

It said that most aliens do not spend much time in detention pending deportation, since they could be released to the custody of friends or relatives during the hearing.

"When an alien is deported, immigration officials will attempt to collect money for their airline ticket from the last employer of record, from the alien [himself], or from a sponsor if one exists. Only when those resources are unavailable will Immigration look to the Commonwealth 'Deportation Fund' to pay for the ticket," the AGO said.

The AGO effectively rebutted Manglona's alleged clamor for the need of a law to allow for the release of arrested aliens, saying that current laws already address this. The AGO said most aliens facing deportation proceedings are not being housed or fed by the CNMI's immigration funds.

Manglona reportedly claimed that the lack of Immigration personnel has led to increased government expenditure on overtime pay, with the AGO's alleged refusal to hire additional manpower. According to earlier reports, Manglona resigned from his post and cited alleged interference by higher-ups in his management as reason for his decision. Brown said she does not discuss personnel matters with the press.

January 6, 2004

Saipan Tribune: www.saipantribune.com

 

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