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Testimony: 

Before the Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans and Wildlife, 
Committee on Natural Resources, House of Representatives: 

United States Government Accountability Office: 
GAO: 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 3:00 p.m. EST:
May 18, 2010: 

Commonwealth Of The Northern Mariana Islands: 

DHS Needs to Conclude Negotiations and Finalize Regulations to 
Implement Federal Immigration Law: 

Statement of David Gootnick, Director: 
International Affairs and Trade: 

GAO-10-671T: 

[End of section] 

Madame Chairwoman and Members of the Subcommittee: 

Thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work on the status of 
efforts to establish federal border control in the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and implement the Consolidated Natural 
Resources Act of 2008 (CNRA)[Footnote 1] with regard to foreign 
workers, visitors, and investors in the CNMI. 

In May 2008, the United States enacted CNRA, amending the U.S.-CNMI 
Covenant[Footnote 2] to establish federal control of CNMI immigration. 
[Footnote 3] CNRA contains several CNMI-specific provisions affecting 
foreign workers and investors during a transition period that began in 
November 2009 and ends in 2014.[Footnote 4] In addition, CNRA amends 
existing U.S. immigration law to establish a joint visa waiver program 
for the CNMI and Guam by replacing an existing visa waiver program for 
Guam visitors. During the transition period, the U.S. Secretary of 
Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretaries of the 
Interior, Labor, and State and the U.S. Attorney General, has the 
responsibility to establish, administer, and enforce a transition 
program to regulate immigration in the CNMI. CNRA requires that we 
report on the implementation of federal immigration law in the CNMI. 

My remarks today will summarize findings from our recent report 
[Footnote 5] regarding (1) steps that the Department of Homeland 
Security (DHS) has taken to establish federal border control in the 
CNMI; (2) actions that DHS has taken to implement programs for 
workers, visitors, and investors; and (3) unresolved operational 
challenges that DHS has encountered.[Footnote 6] We conducted this 
performance audit from September 2009 to May 2010 in accordance with 
generally accepted government auditing standards.[Footnote 7] 

Summary: 

DHS and its components have taken a number of steps to secure the 
border in the CNMI and to implement CNRA-required programs for foreign 
workers, visitors, and foreign investors. However, the components face 
certain operational challenges that they have been unable to resolve 
with the CNMI government. 

Steps taken to establish border control. DHS and its components have 
taken the following steps, among others, to establish federal border 
control in the CNMI. 

* Customs and Border Protection (CBP).[Footnote 8] Since November 
2009, CBP has inspected arriving travelers in Saipan and Rota. 

* Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).[Footnote 9] Also since 
November 2009, ICE has identified individuals who may be in violation 
of U.S. immigration laws and has begun processing some aliens for 
removal. 

* U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).[Footnote 10] In 
March 2009, USCIS opened an application support center. For calendar 
year 2009, USCIS processed 515 CNMI applications for permanent 
residency and 50 CNMI applications for naturalization or citizenship. 

* DHS. DHS has taken several department-level actions to facilitate 
implementation of CNRA but has not finalized an interdepartmental 
agreement regarding implementation of CNRA and has not yet specified 
its resource requirements for this effort as directed by Congress. 
[Footnote 11] 

Actions taken to implement worker, visitor, and investor programs. DHS 
has begun to implement CNRA-required programs for foreign workers, 
visitors, and foreign investors but has not yet finalized key 
regulations. As a result, certain transition programs remain 
unavailable. (See appendix I for CNRA's key provisions for foreign 
workers, visitors, and foreign investors.) 

* Foreign workers. On October 27, 2009, DHS issued an interim rule to 
implement a CNMI-only work permit program required by CNRA for foreign 
workers not otherwise admissible under federal law. However, a 
November 2009 U.S. District Court ruling, responding to an amended 
lawsuit by the CNMI government, prohibited implementation of the 
interim rule, stating that DHS must consider public comments before 
issuing a final rule. As a result, CNMI-only work permits are not 
currently available. 

* Visitors. DHS has established the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program. 
However, the program does not include China and Russia, two countries 
that provide significant economic benefit to the CNMI. Currently, DHS 
allows nationals from these two countries into the CNMI for up to 45 
days without a visa under the Secretary of Homeland Security's parole 
authority. DHS is reconsidering whether to include these countries in 
the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program. 

* Foreign investors. DHS has proposed a rule to allow a large 
proportion of investors holding CNMI foreign investor permits to 
obtain U.S. CNMI-only nonimmigrant treaty investor status during the 
transition period. In comments on the proposed rule, the CNMI 
government stated that it would exclude many current CNMI investors 
from qualifying for CNMI-only nonimmigrant treaty investor status. DHS 
plans to issue a final rule in July 2010; until then, the program is 
not available.[Footnote 12] 

Unresolved operational challenges. DHS components and the CNMI 
government have not yet negotiated solutions to operational challenges 
regarding access to CNMI airport space, detention facilities, and 
databases. 

* Airport space. Lacking long-term occupancy agreements and adequate 
space at CNMI airports, the agency is operating in facilities that do 
not meet its standards for holding cells and secondary inspections. 

* Detention facilities. Lacking an agreement with the CNMI government 
regarding detention space, ICE has released a number of aliens with 
criminal records into the community under orders of supervision and 
has paid to transport several detainees to Guam and Hawaii. 

* Databases. Lacking direct access to the CNMI's immigration and 
border control databases,[Footnote 13] ICE officials have instead 
directed data requests to a single CNMI point of contact, limiting 
their ability to quickly verify the status of aliens and potentially 
compromising the security of ongoing operations. 

In our May 2010 report, we recommended that the Secretary of Homeland 
Security work with the heads of CBP, ICE, and USCIS to establish 
strategic approaches and time frames for concluding negotiations with 
the CNMI government regarding access to CNMI airport space, detention 
facilities, and information about the status of aliens. DHS agreed 
with our recommendation. The Guam government made several observations 
regarding the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program, whereas the CNMI 
government raised concerns about the scope of our report and its 
support for several findings. In responding to the CNMI's concerns, 
and after considering technical comments from DHS and DOL, we modified 
our report as appropriate.[Footnote 14] 

DHS Has Begun Implementing Border Control: 

Customs and Border Protection. From November 28, 2009, to March 1, 
2010, CBP officers working at the Saipan and Rota airports processed 
103,565 arriving travelers, granting 11,760 (11 percent) parole. 
[Footnote 15] During this period, more than 80 percent of arriving 
travelers came from Japan or South Korea. Of arriving travelers from 
China and Russia, 86 percent (10,398 of 12,131) and 90 percent (1,027 
of 1,146), respectively, were paroled into the CNMI only, under DHS 
authority. In addition, CBP signed right-of-entry agreements with the 
CNMI government that gave the agency access to the airports to prepare 
for implementation of federal border control. 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Since November 28, 2009, 10 ICE 
officials detailed to Saipan have identified aliens in violation of 
U.S. immigration laws and have processed or detained aliens for 
removal proceedings. From December 7, 2009, to March 1, 2010, ICE 
identified approximately 264 aliens subject to possible removal from 
the CNMI--including approximately 214 referrals from the CNMI Attorney 
General's office with pending CNMI deportation orders[Footnote 16] and 
49 referrals from the ICE Office of Investigations and the community--
and requested immigration status information about these individuals 
from the CNMI Department of Labor. As of March 1, 2010, ICE officials 
had processed 72 of the 264 aliens for removal proceedings. As of 
March 26, 2010, ICE officials told us they had not deported any of the 
72 aliens being processed for removal but that 31 were scheduled for 
immigration hearings by the end of March 2010 and 9 had agreed to 
waive their right to a hearing and to be deported after completing 
their criminal sentences. 

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In March 2009, USCIS opened 
an Application Support Center in Saipan and stationed two full-time 
employees at the center to provide information services, interview 
residents currently eligible to apply for lawful permanent resident 
status or citizenship, and process requests requiring biometric 
services such as fingerprints or photographs. For calendar year 2009, 
USCIS processed 515 CNMI applications for permanent residency and 50 
CNMI applications for naturalization or citizenship, more than 
doubling the number of interviews conducted for applications for 
residency or citizenship from calendar year 2008, according to data 
provided by USCIS officials. By March 17, 2010, USCIS had also 
received 1,353 advance parole requests and approved 1,123 of them. 
[Footnote 17] USCIS also granted parole-in-place status to 705 
individuals for domestic travel and granted 24 group paroles. 

Department of Homeland Security. To facilitate implementation of CNRA 
in the CNMI, DHS led meetings with the other departments charged with 
implementing CNRA; reported to Congress on the budget and personnel 
needed by the DHS components; and initiated outreach to the CNMI 
government. However, DHS has not finalized an interdepartmental 
agreement with other U.S. departments regarding implementation of CNRA 
and has not specified changes in its resource requirements as directed 
by Congress. 

U.S. Agencies' Implementation of CNRA Programs for Workers, Visitors, 
and Investors Is Incomplete: 

DHS Has Taken Steps to Create CNMI-Only Work Permit Program, but 
Program Is Not Yet Available: 

DHS issued an interim rule for the CNMI-only work permit program on 
October 27, 2009, but a court injunction has prevented implementation 
of the rule.[Footnote 18] The interim rule establishes (1) the number 
of permits to be issued, (2) the way the permits will be distributed, 
(3) the terms and conditions for the permits, and (4) the fees for the 
permits. In issuing the interim rule, which was scheduled to take 
effect on November 27, 2009, DHS announced that it would accept 
comments in the development of the final rule but was not following 
notice-and-comment rulemaking procedures, asserting that it had good 
cause not to do so. 

In its November 2, 2009, amendment to its ongoing lawsuit to overturn 
portions of CNRA, the CNMI filed a motion for a preliminary injunction 
to prevent the operation of the DHS interim rule.[Footnote 19] The 
CNMI argued in part that DHS had violated procedural requirements of 
the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires notice and the 
opportunity for public comment before regulations can go into effect. 

On November 25, 2009, the federal District Court for the District of 
Columbia issued an order prohibiting implementation of the interim 
rule, stating that DHS must consider public comments before issuing a 
final rule.[Footnote 20] In response to this preliminary injunction, 
DHS reopened the comment period from December 9, 2009, until January 
8, 2010. As of May 18, 2010, DHS had not yet issued a final rule, and 
as a result, CNMI-only work permits are not available. 

DHS received numerous comments on the interim rule from the CNMI 
government, a private sector group, and interested businesses and 
individuals.[Footnote 21] The CNMI government commented that the rule 
was incomplete and would damage CNMI workers, employers, and 
community. In addition, the Saipan Chamber of Commerce raised concerns 
regarding the economic impact of the regulations and made a proposal 
to make it easier for workers with the CNMI-only work permit to return 
from travel outside the commonwealth. 

DHS plans to issue a final rule for the CNMI-only work permit program 
in September 2010. 

DHS Has Implemented the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program but Is 
Reconsidering Inclusion of China and Russia: 

On January 16, 2009, DHS issued an interim final rule for the Guam-
CNMI joint visa waiver program, which went into effect November 28, 
2009. The program is intended to allow visitors for business or 
pleasure to enter the CNMI and Guam without obtaining a nonimmigrant 
visa for a stay of no longer than 45 days. DHS's rule designates 12 
countries or geographic areas, including Japan and South Korea, 
[Footnote 22] as eligible for participation in the program.[Footnote 
23] DHS considered designating Russia and China as eligible for 
participation, because visitors from those countries provide 
significant economic benefits to the CNMI. However, because of 
political, security, and law enforcement concerns, including high 
nonimmigrant visa refusal rates, DHS deemed China and Russia as not 
eligible to participate in the program. 

In developing the Guam-CNMI visa waiver program, DHS officials 
consulted with representatives of the CNMI and Guam governments, both 
of which sought the inclusion of China and Russia in the program. In 
May 2009, DHS officials informed Congress that the department is 
reconsidering whether to include China and Russia in the Guam-CNMI 
visa waiver program. 

On October 21, 2009, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced to 
Congress and the Governors of the CNMI and Guam the decision to parole 
tourists from China and Russia into the CNMI on a case-by-case basis 
for a maximum of 45 days, in recognition of their significant economic 
benefit to the commonwealth. 

Public comments on the regulations from the Guam and CNMI governments 
and private sectors emphasized the economic significance of including 
China and Russia in the program. Guam officials argued that tourist 
arrivals in Guam from traditional markets were declining and that 
access to the China tourism market presented an important economic 
benefit. CNMI officials noted that the CNMI economy would be seriously 
damaged unless the CNMI retained access to the China and Russia 
tourism markets. 

The regulations became effective on November 28, 2009. DHS plans to 
issue a final rule for the program in November 2010. 

Proposed DHS Rule to Provide CNMI-Treaty Investor Status to Foreign 
Investors Is Not Yet Final: 

In September 2009, DHS proposed a rule to allow a large proportion of 
CNMI foreign investor permit holders to obtain U.S. CNMI-only 
nonimmigrant investor treaty status during the transition period. 
[Footnote 24] According to the proposed rule, eligibility criteria for 
this status during the transition period include, among others, having 
been physically present in the CNMI for at least half the time since 
obtaining CNMI investor status. Additionally, investors must provide 
evidence of maintaining financial investments in the CNMI, with long-
term business investors showing an investment of at least $150,000. 

In commenting on the proposed rule, the CNMI government stated that 
about 85 of 514 long-term business entry permit holders could not 
qualify if an investment level of $150,000 is required. The CNMI also 
reported that 251 of the 514 permit holders were granted at a $50,000 
required investment level and were "grandfathered" in 1997, when the 
minimum investment requirement was increased. The CNMI projected that 
after the end of the transition period, only 42 of 514 long-term 
business entry permit holders may be able to meet the minimum 
investment level to qualify for federal investor status. 

DHS accepted comments on the proposed rule until October 14, 2009, and 
intends to issue a final rule in July 2010. 

DHS Components Have Been Unable to Negotiate Solutions to Certain 
Operational Challenges with the CNMI Government: 

Long-Term Occupancy Agreements for Airport Space: 

CBP and the CNMI government have not yet signed long-term occupancy 
agreements that would allow CBP to reconfigure space that the CNMI 
government has provided in CNMI airports.[Footnote 25] As a result, 
the agency is operating in facilities that do not meet its standards 
for holding cells and secondary inspections.[Footnote 26] 

The current configuration of CBP's space at the Saipan airport does 
not include holding cells that meet federal standards.[Footnote 27] As 
a result, CBP lacks space to temporarily detain individuals who may 
present a risk to public safety and to its officers. In addition, 
owing to a lack of adequate space for secondary inspections, CBP 
officers process parole applications at the airport in primary 
inspection booths, resulting in increased wait times for arriving 
visitors who are not applying for parole.[Footnote 28] 

U.S. law requires international airports to provide, without charge, 
adequate space to the U.S. government to perform its duties.[Footnote 
29] However, the CNMI government stated that the port authority is not 
in a financial position to provide space to CBP without charge. In 
commenting on a draft of our report, the CNMI stated that the 
commonwealth is not prepared to enter into negotiations with CBP 
unless it is assured that the request for space has been cleared at 
least at the assistant secretary level at DHS and that the department 
has received the necessary assurance from Congress that the funds 
necessary to fulfill CBP's space needs will be available. 

As of April 2010, CBP continued to seek access to approximately 7,200 
additional square feet of space at the Saipan airport, and the two 
parties had not concluded negotiations regarding long-term occupancy 
agreements for space at the Saipan and Rota airports. Key differences 
related to cost have not yet been resolved. 

Detention Space in CNMI Correctional Facility: 

ICE has been unable to conclude negotiations with the CNMI government 
for access to detention space in the CNMI correctional facility. In 
March 2010, ICE estimated that it required 50 detention beds for its 
CNMI operations. Under a 2007 agreement between the U.S. Marshals 
Service and the CNMI Department of Corrections, the CNMI adult 
correctional facility in Saipan provided the U.S. government 25 
detention beds at $77 per bed per day.[Footnote 30] As of September 
2008, less than 30 percent of the facility's beds (134 of 513) were 
filled. 

To obtain needed detention space, ICE proposed to either amend the 
2007 U.S. Marshals Service agreement before it expired on April 1, 
2010, or establish a new agreement with the CNMI government. As of 
March 2010, after a year of negotiation, ICE had not finalized an 
agreement with the CNMI government owing to unresolved cost 
documentation issues, according to a senior ICE official. 

Since January 2010, negotiations between ICE and the CNMI regarding 
detention space have been on hold. Given the current lack of needed 
detention space, ICE has identified three alternatives regarding 
detainees it seeks to remove from the CNMI while removal proceedings 
are under way: (1) release detainees into the CNMI community, under 
orders of supervision; (2) transport detainees to other U.S. 
locations; or (3) pay the CNMI's daily rate for each detainee, if the 
CNMI provides appropriate documentation justifying its proposed rate. 
According to ICE officials, because of flight risk and danger to the 
community, ICE prefers to detain aliens with prior criminal records 
while they await their immigration removal hearings. However, since 
November 2009, ICE has released 43 detainees into the CNMI community 
under orders of supervision, including 27 with prior criminal records. 
According to ICE officials, orders of supervision are appropriate for 
detainees who do not present a danger to the community or a possible 
flight risk. In addition, as of March 2010, ICE had paid a total of 
approximately $5,000 to transport two detainees to Guam and one to 
Honolulu. 

Since January 2010, negotiations between ICE and the CNMI government 
regarding access to detention space have been at an impasse. 

Direct Access to CNMI Immigration and Border Control Data: 

As of March 1, 2010, DHS components lacked direct access to CNMI 
immigration and border control data contained in two CNMI databases, 
the Labor Information Data System (LIDS) and the Border Management 
System (BMS).[Footnote 31] The CNMI government assigned a single point 
of contact in the CNMI Department of Labor to respond to CBP, ICE, and 
USCIS queries from the database, most commonly for verification of an 
individual's immigration status. DHS component officials have 
expressed concerns about the reliance on a single CNMI point of 
contact. 

ICE officials expressed the following concerns, among others: 

* Relying on one CNMI point of contact to verify immigration status 
for individuals subject to ICE investigations could compromise 
security for ongoing operations. 

* Because the CNMI point of contact is an indirect source, basing ICE 
detention and removal decisions on data provided by the point of 
contact could lead to those decisions' eventual reversal in court. 

USCIS officials' concerns included the following: 

* Direct access to LIDS would allow USCIS to verify information 
provided by applicants for immigration benefits such as advance parole. 

* Direct access to the data would facilitate the processing of 
applications for CNMI-only work permits and for CNMI-only nonimmigrant 
treaty investor status. 

In February 2010, CNMI officials reported that the point of contact 
assigned to work with the U.S. government had promptly supplied 
information on individual cases to U.S. officials from immigration and 
border control databases. A senior CNMI official also stated that if 
the point of contact is unable to respond to future DHS inquiries in a 
timely manner, CNMI officials would be willing to engage in additional 
discussions regarding more direct access to LIDS and BMS. However, 
according to ICE officials, the CNMI responses to ICE inquiries have 
not been timely and have not always provided sufficient information. 
We examined ICE records of 68 inquiries and found that CNMI response 
times ranged from 16 minutes to around 23 hours, averaging roughly 4-
and-a-half hours. ICE officials reported that the responses contained 
first and last names and LIDS numbers but rarely included biographical 
or other identifying information. 

DHS has communicated, at the department and component levels, with the 
CNMI government regarding access to CNMI immigration data. 

* During a September 2009 meeting between the Governor of the CNMI and 
the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Governor proposed providing 
restricted access to information contained in LIDS and BMS, for a fee 
and in exchange for airline flight entry data. 

* On February 18, 2010, the Governor sent a letter to CBP reiterating 
the CNMI's request that DHS share advance passenger information 
provided by the airlines. 

* On March 31, 2010, CBP responded to the CNMI letter, stating that 
the CNMI's intended use of the advance passenger information did not 
justify the data's release to CNMI authorities. 

As of March 2010, DHS and the CNMI government were at an impasse 
regarding any exchange of passenger information for CNMI immigration 
and border control data. 

Concluding Remarks and Prior Recommendation: 

DHS components have taken a number of steps since November 28, 2009, 
to ensure effective border control procedures in the CNMI. 
Additionally, DHS and other agencies have taken steps to implement 
CNRA provisions for workers, visitors, and investors, although the 
programs for workers and investors are not yet available to eligible 
individuals in the CNMI. Despite the DHS components' progress, 
however, their inability to conclude negotiations with the CNMI 
government regarding access to airport space, detention facilities, 
and CNMI databases has resulted in continuing operational challenges. 
Although the DHS components have made continued efforts to overcome 
these challenges without department-level intervention, in each case, 
their efforts have encountered obstacles. Negotiations with the CNMI 
government for long-term access to the CNMI airports have not been 
concluded, and key differences remain unresolved; meanwhile, 
negotiations for access to CNMI detention facilities and databases 
have reached impasse. Without department-level leadership as well as 
strategic approaches and timeframes for concluding its components' 
negotiations with the CNMI, DHS's prospects for resolving these issues 
is uncertain. 

To enable DHS to carry out its statutory obligation to implement 
federal border control and immigration in the CNMI, we recommended 
that the Secretary of Homeland Security work with the heads of CBP, 
ICE, and USCIS to establish strategic approaches and timeframes for 
concluding negotiations with the CNMI government to resolve the 
operational challenges related to access to CNMI airport space, 
detention facilities, and information about the status of aliens. DHS 
agreed with our recommendation. 

Madame Chairwoman, this completes my prepared statement. I would be 
happy to respond to any questions you or other Members of the 
Subcommittee may have at this time. 

[End of section] 

Appendix I: Key Provisions for Foreign Workers, Visitors, and Foreign 
Investors in Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 and Other U.S. 
Immigration Provisions: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Enactment of legislation: May 8, 2008. 

Transition period start date: November 28, 2009. 

End of initial transition period: December 31, 2014. 

Foreign workers: 

CNMI-only work permit program: 
Begins with transition period start date and ends December 31, 2014, 
under P.L. 110-229, enacted May 8, 2008. May be extended indefinitely 
for up to 5 years at a time by the U.S. Secretary of Labor. 

Exemptions from certain visa caps for nonimmigrant workers: 
Begins with transition period start date and ends December 31, 2014, 
under P.L. 110-229, enacted May 8, 2008. 

Nonimmigrant worker visas generally available under U.S. law: Begins 
with transition period start date and ends December 31, 2014, under 
P.L. 110-229, enacted May 8, 2008. 

Employment-based permanent immigration status generally available 
under U.S. law: Begins with transition period start date and continues 
permanently. 

Visitors: 

Joint Guam-CNMI visa waiver program: 
Begins with transition period start date and continues permanently. 

Visa Waiver Program: 
Begins with transition period start date and continues permanently. 

U.S. visitor visas for business or pleasure generally available under 
U.S. law: 
Begins with transition period start date and continues permanently. 

Foreign investors: 

Current CNMI foreign investors to convert to U.S. CNMI-only 
nonimmigrant treaty investors: Begins with transition period start 
date and ends December 31, 2014, under P.L. 110-229, enacted May 8, 
2008. 

Nonimmigrant treaty investor status generally available under U.S. law: 
Begins with transition period start date and continues permanently. 

U.S. immigrant foreign investor status generally available under U.S. 
law: 
Begins with transition period start date and continues permanently. 

Source: GAO analysis of P.L. 110-229 and current U.S. immigration law. 

[End of figure] 

[End of section] 

Appendix II: GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

GAO Contact: 

David Gootnick, (202) 512-3149 or gootnickd@gao.gov: 

Staff Acknowledgments: 

In addition to the person named above, Emil Friberg, Assistant 
Director; Michael P.Dino, Assistant Director; Julia A. Roberts, 
Analyst-in-Charge; Gifford Howland, Senior Analyst; Ashley Alley, 
Senior Attorney; and Reid Lowe, Senior Communications Analyst, made 
key contributions to this report. Technical assistance was provided by 
Martin De Alteriis, Ben Bolitzer, Etana Finkler, Marissa Jones, and 
Eddie Uyekawa. 

[End of section] 

Footnotes: 

[1] Pub. L. No. 110-229, Title VII, 122 Stat. 754, 853 (May 8, 2008). 
48 U.S.C.§ 1806 note. 

[2] Covenant to Establish a Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana 
Islands in Political Union with the United States of America (Pub. L. 
No. 94-241, § 1, 90 Stat. 263 (Mar. 24, 1976), 48 U.S.C. § 1801, as 
amended). 

[3] From 1978 to 2009, the CNMI administered its own immigration 
systems. 

[4] CNRA authorizes a CNMI-only transitional worker program that may 
be extended indefinitely past 2014 at the discretion of the Secretary 
of Labor. 

[5] GAO, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: DHS Should 
Conclude Negotiations and Finalize Regulations to Implement Federal 
Immigration Law, [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-553] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 7, 2010). 

[6] CNRA additionally requires that we report on the impact of 
implementation of CNRA on the CNMI economy, among other topics. As 
agreed with your offices, we will issue a subsequent report addressing 
these topics. 

[7] See [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-553] for a full 
description of our report's scope and methodology and a list of 
related products. 

[8] CBP is the lead federal agency charged with keeping terrorists, 
criminals, and inadmissible aliens out of the country while 
facilitating the flow of legitimate travel and commerce at the 
nation's borders. 

[9] ICE is responsible for enforcing immigration laws within the 
United States, including, but not limited to, identifying, 
apprehending, detaining, and removing aliens who commit crimes and 
aliens who are unlawfully present in the United States. 

[10] USCIS processes applications for immigration benefits--that is, 
the ability of aliens to live, and in some cases to work, in the 
United States permanently or temporarily or to apply for citizenship. 

[11] H.R. Rep. No. 111-298, at 59 (2009) (Conf. Rep). 

[12] CNRA establishes that current CNMI foreign investors who meet 
certain requirements can convert from a CNMI long-term investor to a 
U.S. CNMI-only nonimmigrant treaty investor status during the 
transition period. 

[13] In February 2010, we reported on the status, during the 
transition of CNMI immigration to federal control, of several 
databases that the commonwealth has used to record the permit status 
of certain aliens and to track the arrivals and departures of 
travelers. For more information , see GAO, Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands: Immigration and Border Control Databases, 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-345R] (Washington, 
D.C.: Feb. 16, 2010). 

[14] See [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-553] for a 
fuller description of DHS's and the CNMI's written comments and our 
response. 

[15] On October 21, 2009, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced 
to Congress and the Governors of the CNMI and Guam that she will 
exercise her discretionary authority to parole into the CNMI visitors 
for business or pleasure who are nationals of the Russian Federation 
and the Peoples Republic of China. Parole is determined on a case-by- 
case basis and all applicants for admission are subject to inspection 
and removal if determined to be inadmissible for reasons other than 
lack of visa. See [hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-553] 
for a summary of arrivals processed by CBP officers at the Saipan and 
Rota airports from November 28, 2009 to March 1, 2010, including those 
admitted from primary and secondary screening areas, granted parole, 
and refused entry from the secondary screening area. 

[16] With the implementation of the INA, the CNMI courts no longer 
have the authority to issue deportation orders. 

[17] A grant of parole is official permission for an otherwise 
inadmissible alien to be physically present in the United States 
temporarily. USCIS can issue advance parole to aliens in the United 
States who need to travel abroad and return and whose conditions of 
stay do not otherwise allow for readmission if they depart. 

[18] The interim rule comprises regulations to implement the CNMI-only 
work permit program, established in CNRA, for foreign workers not 
otherwise admissible under federal law. DHS created a new transitional 
worker classification to implement the CNMI-only worker permit 
provision of the legislation. Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands 
Transitional Worker Classification, 74 Fed. Reg. 55094 (Oct. 27, 2009). 

[19] This court order only addresses the specific transitional worker 
program that was the subject of the interim rule, and does not enjoin 
any provision of CNRA or other related regulations from taking effect. 

[20] Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands v. United States, 
No. 08-1572 § 2009 WL 4070877 (D.D.C. Nov. 25, 2009). 

[21] In addition, the CNMI government proposed text for the rule that 
would implement the commonwealth's comments. 

[22] Japan and Korea are the two largest tourism markets for the CNMI 
and Guam. 

[23] DHS included Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, 
Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Singapore, 
Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. 

[24] E-2 Nonimmigrant Status for Aliens in the Commonwealth of the 
Northern Mariana Islands with Long-Term Investor Status. 74 Fed. Reg. 
46,938 (Sep. 14, 2009). 

[25] In technical comments on a draft of this report, CBP noted that 
although its right-of-entry agreements with the CNMI give the agency 
access to the airports, CBP must negotiate and finalize a long term 
lease, or similar legal document, with the CNMI government before 
proceeding with facility configurations. 

[26] The CBP Airport Technical Design Standards describe basic CBP 
facility requirements for international airports and reflect U.S. 
policy, procedures, and minimum development standards for design and 
construction of CBP facilities at airports. These standards specify 
space requirements for CBP operations based on the size of the airport 
and the number of passengers processed per hour. 

[27] CBP facility standards require separate holding cells for men, 
women, and juveniles. 

[28] At other U.S. airports, applications for parole are generally 
completed in the secondary inspection area because the parole process 
may require additional questions, verification in databases not 
immediately available in the primary inspection area, and manager 
approval. After our visit to the CNMI, CBP officials told us that they 
were considering establishing a separate line in the primary screening 
area at the Saipan airport for visitors applying for parole. 

[29] 8 C.F.R. § 234.4. Moreover, designation as an international 
airport may be withdrawn if proper facilities are not provided or 
maintained by the airport. International airports are also required to 
provide, without cost to the federal government, proper office and 
other space for the sole use of federal officials working at the 
airport. 19 C.F.R. § 122.11. 

[30] The agreement allows ICE and the Department of Justice's U.S. 
Marshals Service and Bureau of Prisons to house federal detainees with 
the CNMI Department of Corrections. ICE officials reported that as of 
March 1, 2010, the 25 beds provided for in the contract were filled, 
in part with the aliens that ICE arrested during their attempt to 
enter Guam on January 5, 2010. 

[31] The LIDS database is used to record the permit status of certain 
aliens who are required to have current work or equivalent permits in 
order to remain in the CNMI. BMS, an automated arrivals and departures 
database, contains data from passports, visas, alerts, and permissions 
(extensions of stay, changes of status, or other modifications of 
entry conditions) as applicable for all persons entering the CNMI. See 
[hyperlink, http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-10-345R]. 

[End of section] 

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