H.R. 1466: To resolve the status of certain persons legally residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the immigration laws of the United States

H.R. 1466

To resolve the status of certain persons legally residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands under the immigration laws of the United States

Sponsor
Rep. Gregorio Sablan

Date
December 14, 2011 (112th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Wednesday, December 14, 2011, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1466 under a suspension of the rules requiring a two-thirds majority vote for approval.  H.R. 1466 was introduced by Del. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-MP) on April 8, 2011, and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the bill on October 5, 2011, by unanimous consent.

Bill Summary

H.R. 1466 would permit certain aliens residing within the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for permanent residence and be admitted as an immigrant to the CNMI under certain circumstances. The bill would only permit entry to and from the CNMI and would prohibit such aliens from traveling to, or residing in, any part of the United States other than the Commonwealth. The bill would require the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a process for such aliens to apply for CNMI-only permanent resident status during the 90-day period beginning on the first day of the sixth month after the date of the enactment of this legislation.

The bill would authorize the admission of an alien as an immigrant to the Commonwealth of the CNMI if they are otherwise admissible to the United States, if they resided in the Commonwealth on November 28, 2009, if they continue to so reside on the date of enactment of this Act, and if such alien met any one of the following requirements:

1) Was born in the Commonwealth between January 1, 1974, and January 9, 1978;

2) Was, on May 8, 2008, a Commonwealth permanent resident;

3) Is the spouse or child of an alien described in clause 1 or clause 2 above; or

4) Was on May 8, 2008, and continues to be, an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (not withstanding the citizen's age).

 

H.R. 1466 would permit certain persons currently residing in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) to apply for permanent residence in CNMI within eight months of the bill’s enactment and would permit some of those persons to apply for permanent U.S. residence in calendar year 2015. Under the bill’s provisions, any visas issued to CNMI residents in 2015 would be offset by a reduction in the number of visas available for certain other immigrants in that year.

 

Background

The Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in Political Union with the United States of America (PL 94-241) was enacted in 1976 and the following year, the CNMI government adopted a constitution.  In 1986, United States citizenship was conferred on legally qualified CNMI residents by presidential proclamation.  According to House Report 112-319, the original Covenant exempted the CNMI from most of the provisions of U.S. immigration laws and allowed the CNMI to control its own immigration. Under local immigration authority, the CNMI could allow aliens to enter the territory for travel purposes and the local government could issue permits to aliens for work opportunities. Aliens with passports could also travel from the CNMI to the U.S., if they had the necessary travel documents.

In 2009, the Congress approved and the president signed the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (PL 110-229), which applied U.S. immigration laws to the CNMI after a two year transition period.  The two year transition period ends on November 27, 2011. During the two year transition period, aliens working under CNMI-issued umbrella permits had legal status. The application of federal immigration laws to the CNMI has created a situation where aliens legally residing in the CNMI under local laws would be without legal status under federal laws and could face deportation. This legisltaion would authorize the admission of an alien as an immigrant to the CNMI as long as the alien meets the requirements to be admitted to the United States.  According to the Natural Resources committee, H.R. 1466 would affect roughly 5,000-7,300 aliens legally residing in the CNMI.

Cost

According to CBO, “H.R. 1466 would have no significant net cost to the federal government.” CBO does estimate that the bill would increase the amount of money received by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from permanent residency application fees. However, DHS is authorized to spend those fees without further appropriation; therefore, the net effect on the budget in any year would not be significant, CBO estimates.