After months of engaging with humanitarian parolees, their families, the White House, Congress and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Gov. Ralph Torres announced Wednesday that President Donald Trump has signed into law H.R. 559, the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act.
Torres said he received notification from White House officials Wednesday morning.
"I thank President Trump for signing H.R. 559 into law. My office through our Washington Director Jason Osborne and I have been closely working with the White House for an expedient approval of the bill since Congress passed it a week ago," he said.
"This provides a legal remedy for the 1,039 long-term humanitarian parolees and their families by granting them CNMI resident status within the commonwealth," he added, reiterating the bill's intent.
CNMI Del. Gregorio Sablan thanked the president in a separate statement.
"This was the final step in a long, long process that began with introduction on Jan. 15. So many people here in the House and the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, have helped to get us here. People at the Department of Homeland Security and at the White House have helped. Commonwealth officials have supported us. I am so grateful to them all."
As of Dec. 14, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Sablan there were 1,039 individuals living in the Northern Marianas under humanitarian parole, who could qualify for the new permanent status. These include more than 800 spouses and parents of U.S. citizens, 50 in-home caregivers, people born in the Marianas before the Covenant citizenship provisions went into effect and those who had been given permanent resident status under commonwealth law in the early 1980s. All would have been forced to leave the NMI on June 29 if Sablan's bill had not been signed into law.