Interior Dep't Recommends US Citizenship for Foreign Workers in Marianas

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The U.S. Department of Interior submitted to Congress a report recommending, among others, that those long-term alien workers be conferred U.S. citizenship, or permanent residency status leading to citizenship, according to a report filed by Saipan Tribune.

“Consistent with the goals of comprehensive immigration reform, we recommend that the Congress consider permitting alien workers who have lawfully resided in the CNMI for a minimum period of five years to apply for long-term status under the immigration and nationality laws of the United States," Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta said, in the report.

Should U.S. Congress act on the Interior department’s initiative, some 15,816 aliens residing in the CNMI for five years or more would be covered, along with those who have been in the territory for three to five years, the report said.

There were 20,859 foreigners in the CNMI as of January 2010, with 16,304 classified as workers.

Data from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed there were over 14,000 Filipinos in the CNMI as of December 2008, with about 13,000 classified as temporary residents and 500 irregulars. The rest are considered permanent residents.