MONDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2011 12:00AM BY EMMANUEL T. EREDIANO - REPORTER FROM MARIANAS VARIETY
THE federalization of local immigration has made it worse for nonresidents especially the jobless who have now become “overstayers,”Gov. Benigno R. Fitial said on Friday.
“You and I know what is really happening. A lot of nonresidents are not working because they don’t have jobs,” he told reporters. “They are here because they still believe that there is still hope at the end of the tunnel,” he added referring to the nonresidents’ plea for improved status.
He said his administration has tried to tell nonresidents from the very beginning that it’s not going to happen.
“But nobody wants to believe me,” he added. “They are stubborn because they believe in someone. They should believe in something that is right, not in someone.” He did not say who that “someone” is.
The U.S. Congress, where lawmakers are “fighting over 12 million [illegal aliens] in the states, “is not stupid to entertain a few thousand [aliens in the CNMI],” he added.
“But I don’t blame them. Now, we have a lot of not only illegal overstayers but also unemployed overstayers,” he said.
He said his administration has the “numbers,” but these do not include those who came here pregnant.
“A lot of these people came in pregnant, just to deliver babies and become immediate relatives — we don’t know them. But we know they exist because they produce babies,” he added.
The governor said he continues to urge U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to start going after overstayers in the CNMI.
He said he asked ICE, “what is this policy that you cannot enforce on overstayers?”
Asked if he agrees with Lt. Gov. Eloy S. Inos who wants to give jobless aliens a 60-day grace period after the expiration of their umbrella permits on Nov. 27, Fitial said a lot of them have already been going home or preparing to go home because “they themselves know that they can’t have it.”
Visiting U.S. Interior Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta said beyond the report they were mandated by the federalization law to submit, they have sent no other communication to the U.S. Congress regarding the nonresidents in the CNMI.
Interior recommended improved status for qualified nonresidents, but no such bill has been introduced in the U.S. Congress.
Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan introduced H.R. 1466, but it grants CNMI-status only to certain nonresidents.
In related news, Fitial said his administration will come up this month with a directive that will allow U.S. citizens to continue hiring their caregivers.
He said the federal government has agreed to such an idea to address “one of those Johnny-come-lately issues” that was raised prior to the release of the transitional worker rule.
The governor said he has asked the Legislature for other suggestions regarding his proposed directive.
Fitial admitted he is also affected by the issue because he needs caregivers.
“I used to have two but now, I only have one,” he added.