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By Ferdie Dela Torre

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Jan. 3) – More than a dozen citizens of the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of Palau are going to be slapped soon with deportation cases [from Saipan in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands].

These citizens from FSM and Palau have been convicted of felonies and at least two misdemeanor charges on Saipan, sources at the Division of Immigration and the Attorney General's Office disclosed to the Saipan Tribune.

Sources said the government is hoping that the filing of the deportation cases on Friday against Douglas Amaichy Phillip, a Chuukese, and Regis Iyekar, a Palauan, would establish "an important precedent."

If the court rules in favor of deporting these two, the government is expected to immediately go after those on the list of law breakers, sources said.

The sources, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said it was the late Immigration investigator Tom Barcinas who successfully obtained a court order for the deportation of Steve Ramon Anson, an FSM citizen, in October 1999.

Anson had been convicted of two or more misdemeanor charges.

The AGO has been discussing for many months now the issue of deporting FSM and Palau citizens who are convicted in the CNMI, but it was last month's fatal Gualo Rai shooting that really prompted the government to pursue the plan, other sources said.

A check with court records indicate that in February 2005, Judge David A. Wiseman ruled that the court has the authority to deport FSM citizens who are convicted of felony. Wiseman said he believes the court can make such deportation pursuant to the Compact of Free Association.

Wiseman made such statement in sentencing Oncho A. Alafonso, a 22-year-old citizen of Chuuk State, for burglary and violating his probation.

Felony is a serious crime usually defined as one punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year.

In signing a plea agreement with the government, Alafonso acknowledged that as a non-immigrant-being a citizen of Chuuk State-a guilty plea and conviction for a felony (burglary) shall result in adverse immigration consequences that would include his detention by immigration authorities and an order of deportation.

The Compact of Free Association between FSM and the United States provides for U.S. economic assistance (including eligibility for certain U.S. federal programs), defense of the FSM, and other benefits in exchange for U.S. defense and certain other operating rights in the FSM, denial of access to FSM territory by other nations, and other agreements.

The Compact was approved by the citizens of the FSM in a plebiscite held in 1983.

The AGO recently filed felony charges against Alafonso for allegedly assaulting Ernie S. Rangamar and his father Ralph Rangamar with a 2" x 4" lumber in Gualo Rai on Dec. 11, 2005.

Alafonso's companion, Donnald Sewel, a Chuukese, was shot dead by Police Officer 1 Andrew Santos when he reportedly tried to attack the officer.

January 3, 2006

Saipan Tribune

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