CNMI Delegate: GOP Candidates’ Immigration Policies A ‘Disaster’

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Sablan: Tourism, labor would be hard hit by Trump, Cruz Presidency

By Dennis B. Chan

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, March 25, 2016) – Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) warned yesterday against the "disastrous" immigration policies touted by Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, saying that neither of them would likely change their positions to accommodate the Northern Marianas if elected to the White House.

Trump and Cruz this week called for an end to the U.S. visa waiver program in the wake of terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium that left 31 dead and 250 wounded.

Trump, who also has earned the personal endorsement of Gov. Ralph DLG Torres, has called for temporary ban on all Muslins into the U.S. after the Paris attacks in last November and again after attacks in San Bernardino, California in December. He also wants to build a security wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

"These terrorist attacks [in Brussels] are horrific," Sablan told Saipan Tribune yesterday. "We pray for the victims and their families, and for the swift apprehension of all those who were involved in the planning and execution of these monstrous acts."

"But shutting down our borders is not the answer," he added. "And what these Republican presidential frontrunners have proposed to do in terms of immigration policy would be disastrous for the Northern Marianas—for tourism as well as labor" and would "also adversely affect our nation’s relationships with countries that are our friends and allies."

Sablan also pointed out that the CNMI’s Chinese and Russian visitors are admitted to the Northern Marianas—not through the visa waiver program—but through the parole authority of the Secretary of Homeland Security.

"Which is completely at the discretion of the secretary and can be revoked at any time," Sablan added.

"If Mr. Trump or Senator Cruz is elected President neither would be likely to alter his national immigration agenda just to accommodate the Northern Marianas," Sablan said.

"Secretary [Hilary] Clinton, on the other hand, is both very well-informed about the issues in our region and committed to continuing the immigration policies established under the Obama administration, if she is elected president."

Sablan has publicly endorsed former secretary of state Clinton to be next president of the U.S.

Torres endorsed Trump earlier this month with the local Republican party following suit, casting 343 votes for Trump in the winner-take-all local GOP caucus last March 15, to help Trump overwhelmingly claim the CNMI’s nine delegates.

Fox News reported Trump’s and Cruz’s renewed call to end the visa waiver program on Tuesday.

In 2009, the secretary of Homeland Security exercised discretionary authority to parole into the CNMI visitors for business or pleasure who are nationals of the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China.

The Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2009 tasked Homeland Security to create a list of any countries from which the CNMI had received a "significant economic benefit" from the number of visitors for pleasure within the year preceding enactment of the law.

The department determined that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Russia meet this economic threshold.

Parole is authorized on a case-by-case basis only for entry into the CNMI and does not extend to other areas of the United States.

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