1 May 2008

CNMI immigration to be federalised

2:19 pm on 1 May 2008

A bill federalising the immigration system in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas is now only one step away from being law.

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Senate bill 2739, which includes a provision to federalise immigration controls in the Northern Marianas.

It also grants the CNMI a delegate with limited voting powers in the U.S. House.

The measure now heads to the White House.

Once the bill is received from Congress, President George W. Bush has ten days to sign into law.

Our correspondent in Saipan, Mark Rabago, says there is a sense of urgency for the President to sign the legislation.

"There are 20,000 US Marines and military servicemen who will be deployed in Guam which is just a 30 minute 45 minute plane ride, so it does not make sense if a US Territory of Guam has a sizable military presence and then next door the CNMI is not controlled by the immigration, then it opens their borders to infiltration to terrorists and all that, so it's a security measure."

Mark Rabago says the federalisation bill could be in effect within the next three weeks.