FINDING good cause, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona of the District Court for the NMI has granted the request of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for a 90-day extension in resolving a lawsuit filed over rejected applications for long-term CNMI legal residency.

Judge Manglona gave the defendants until Aug. 2, 2021 to respond to the complaint of the plaintiffs.

DHS/USCIS, represented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Districts of Guam and the NMI, on Wednesday stated that the parties had negotiated a possible resolution of the case as of April 23, 2021, but they needed more time to carry out the proposal.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the plaintiffs will refile their applications under the Northern Mariana Islands Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act, and DHS-USCIS will process the refiling.

Twelve individuals have sued DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and USCIS Director Tracy Renaud over the rejection of the plaintiffs’ CNMI long-term legal residency applications.

The original nine plaintiffs are Christine C. Pramis, Christopher R. Manalo, Cesar G. Lopez, Aliilua Panapa Peteru, Veisinia Tilisa Peteru, Pacifico C. Rivera, Ferdinand D. Arago, Anthony M. Alegre and Nimfa T. Tan.

Represented by attorney Steven Pixley, they filed a petition for a writ of mandamus on Feb. 24, 2021.

A couple, Samarn Chaikhamjan and Kraisorn Chaijaroen, through attorney Joseph Horey, have also filed a motion to intervene as plaintiffs in the civil complaint.

On Wednesday, Maria Gloria Balila, through attorney Joe W. McDoulett,  filed a motion to intervene in the original lawsuit.

Pixley said the plaintiffs are not asking the court to adjudicate their eligibility for the long-term residency status.

Rather, he said, “they respectfully seek…an order from the court mandating that [DHS-USCIS] process their applications which were wrongfully rejected.”

On June 25, 2019, then-President Donald Trump signed into law the NMI Long-Term Legal Residents Relief Act, which allows certain aliens who have resided continuously and lawfully in the CNMI since Nov. 28, 2009 to remain in the Commonwealth.

Reporter

Bryan Manabat studied criminal justice at Northern Marianas College. He covers the community, tourism, business, police and court beats.

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