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By John Ravelo

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 5) – The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands "stateless persons" gained another ally in the U.S. Congress, with U.S. Sen. E. Benjamin Nelson of Nebraska promising to monitor legislation related to the Northern Marianas.

Nelson made the assurance recently in response to a letter from a Nebraska student, Taylor Gage, who had expressed his support for the cause of the stateless group.

Nelson had researched on the history of the lawsuit filed by stateless persons against the State Department, and assured of his support if the matter comes before the Senate.

Randy Mendoza, who serves as spokesman for the stateless group, welcomed this, expressing hope that, in the event that the group is denied American citizenship by the Supreme Court, federal legislation may win its members U.S. citizenship.

Mendoza, along with other stateless persons, claim that they could not join the military and pursue higher education in the U.S. mainland due to their uncertain immigration status.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has favored American citizenship for the stateless persons but the State Department may still appeal this, which could bring the issue all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Stateless children are those who were born to non-U.S citizens in the CNMI between Jan. 9, 1978 -- the time when the Covenant between the CNMI and the United States was adopted--and Nov. 3, 1986 -- when the Covenant was ratified. Being born within that period, they failed to obtain U.S. citizenship.

January 5, 2005

Saipan Tribune

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