Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Feds tighten NMI border security

Feds tighten NMI border security

Thursday, 03 December 2009 00:00 By Gemma Q. Casas - Reporter

THE U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the largest investigative agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is tightening the border security of the Northern Marianas, particularly on Saipan, now that federal immigration law applies here.

ICE said immigration document and benefit fraud poses a serious threat to national security and public safety because they create vulnerabilities that may enable criminals and even terrorists to enter the U.S.

Wayne Wills, special agent-in-charge of ICE Office of Investigations, Honolulu, Hawaii, said uniformed ICE agents will be roaming Garapan, the center of business activities on Saipan.

His office is responsible for pursuing criminal offenses such as human smuggling and human trafficking, money laundering, narcotics, weapons trafficking, financial crimes, commercial fraud, child exploitation and violations related to intellectual property rights.

Wills said their focus here are human smuggling and human trafficking.

“[Our] agents will be very visible,” Wills said in a press conference on Tuesday at their new office in Puerto Rico.

He said it would be best for foreign nationals to posses their CNMI immigration documents.

“My suggestion would be to carry whatever proper immigration documents that show they are legally admitted to the CNMI,” he added.

Securing the islands’ maritime area with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard is also another focus of his office.

Wills said ICE’s primary mission is to enforce the law. It may be sometimes uncomfortable to the community but the law must be enforced, he added.

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