28 Nov 2009

CNMI's immigration is now under US law

12:17 pm on 28 November 2009

The United States will today take over control of immigration in the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas despite protests about the impact on the Pacific territory's economy.

The AFP news agency reports that a US federal court ruling this week threw out a late bid by the CNMI government to stop the move.

Federalisation means the Northern Marianas will become subject to the same immigration laws as the US and administration of the system will be taken over by the US Department of Homeland Security.

CNMI's incumbent Governor, Benigno Fitial, says Washington's move to take over immigration runs counter to the agreement under which the territory - officially a commonwealth in political union with the US -- is self-governed.

He has repeatedly said federalisation would restrict access to foreign labour and tourists who the CNMI's economy is heavily reliant on.

Under US federal control, new visitors from most countries will have to obtain US visas to enter the Northern Marianas.