U.S. CONGRESSMAN RAISES CNMI SECURITY CONCERN

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, June 9) – The Northern Marianas' control over its borders and that local authority's potential to become exploited by terrorists seeking a back door to America is a concern that California Rep. George Miller wants federal authorities to pay attention to.

"The Marianas' local control of immigration ... poses a potential security threat to the rest of the United States," according to a written statement from Miller yesterday as he and two of his Democratic sponsored legislation that would apply U.S. immigration and wage laws in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

The security concern was initially raised in a federal Justice Department report in 2001, according to Miller.

"The Department of Justice wrote its own report in 2001 at the request of the acting U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Commonwealth that found that the lack of U.S. immigration controls 'produces critical security obstacles' to U.S. interests and that 'aggressive and immediate steps' are required to address these vulnerabilities,'" according to Miller.

But lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Miller stated, "used his influence over then Attorney General Ashcroft and others in the Bush Administration to quash its publication."

Aides to the former attorney general previously denied those charges, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The 34-page report warned of similar security risks in Guam, according to the L.A. Times.

Unlike the Northern Marianas, however, U.S. immigration law applies on Guam, so visitors to Guam go through a stringent visa screening process unless they're from visa-waiver countries such as Japan and South Korea.

The report mentions the possibility of a terrorist attack on military personnel and assets on the islands, according to the L.A. Times.

The L.A. Times further states that Miller said Abramoff wanted the 2001 report suppressed because its release would have been against the interest of his clients, the Saipan garment factories that benefited from the Northern Marianas' exemption from U.S. immigration.

As part of Miller's bill that would apply U.S. immigration law in the Commonwealth, the congressman in a press release asked the Department of the Interior as well as Homeland Security to study "security and immigration vulnerabilities in the Commonwealth -- including an evaluation of ports and critical infrastructure.

A window of opportunity for reform is opening, according to Miller, because a Commonwealth ally in opposing reform, Rep. Tom DeLay, is resigning from Congress tomorrow.

And Abramoff will be in prison beginning on June 29, according to Miller

In e-mails made public last year, Abramoff bragged about his ties to DeLay and how they were working to block the Commonwealth bill, according to the L.A. Times.

Abramoff pleaded guilty this year to fraud, tax evasion and conspiring to bribe members of Congress, it reported.

"I believe that finally there just might be an opening for Congress to properly consider this issue that has been callously pushed aside for so long," according to Miller.

June 9, 2006

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

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